The New Year's Concert in Vienna has been a glorious tradition year on year for over six decades. A best-selling classical event year on year, the concert has unique global appeal. It is broadcast on TV and radio to over 50 countries, and is viewed by tens of millions of people all over the world.
The 2008 New Year's Day Concert will be conducted by the eminent conductor Georges Prêtre for the first time. Prêtre is the first French conductor to receive this honour. The concert programme for 1st January 2008 will be the customary collection of Strauss delights, but this time with a French theme.
The concert will open with Napoleon March op.156 by Johann Strauss II, performed for the first time in a New Year's Concert. Other French novelties include the waltz Paris by the elder Johann Strauss, composed in 1838 for his Paris concerts, and the Versailles Galop. Also performed for the first time are the Orpheus Quadrille, which was greeted with thunderous applause at its first performance in April 1860, and the Laxenburg Polka by Josef Strauss.
The traditional encores the Blue Danube Waltz and Radetzky March, will be joined by the Sport Polka, as a nod to the European Football Championship in Vienna in 2008. The year's second great sporting event, the Summer Olympics in Beijing, is saluted by the orchestra earlier in the programme with an early work of the elder Johann Strauss, his exotically coloured Chinese Galop.
George Prêtre has a special association with the Wiener Philharmoniker dating back to 1966. He is one of the few French Artists to have received the highest decorations both in France and abroad: Commander of the French Légion d'honneur and the Austrian Cross for Services Rendered to Science and the Arts. He also became Honorary Member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna - the highest decoration an artist can obtain in Vienna.