Take an iconic orchestra, a famous venue, and a world-class conductor, then put them all together and what do you get? Probably not tickets (actually, you can get tickets with a bit of luck). No, it’s Waltz time with a capital W at the legendary New Year’s Concert in Vienna.
- Hugely popular annual concert by the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Musikverein
- Two public performances of the programme occur on days before the main event
- Tickets allocated through an online lottery early in the year
- The three concerts take place on Dec 30, Dec 31, and (surprise) Jan 1
- New Year performance typically broadcast live to over 90 countries
- Franz Welser-Möst is scheduled to conduct in 2023
- See also:
About the concert
The turn of the year sees the Musikverein concert hall decked out in huge floral arrangements and hosting a three-day residency by the “house band”, which just happens to be the Wiener Philharmoniker (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra).
The “main event” is the New Year’s Concert (German: Neujahrskonzert) on the morning of January 1st, but the orchestra performs the same programme on the two days before, giving more people the chance to enjoy this rather wonderful celebration of Viennese classics.
History & highlights
The feast of music, with its concurrent message of peace and harmony, has rather ignominious roots. The first New Year’s Concert took place in Vienna in 1939, with the proceeds going to the Nazi’s annual charity drive. How times change.
Initially, the Philharmoniker’s own concert master waved the baton at the event but, since 1980, the honour of conducting the orchestra changes each year.
As such, some of the most famous names in classical music have welcomed in the New Year in Vienna, including Herbert von Karajan, Claudio Abbado, and Zubin Mehta.
Recent conductors of the New Year’s Concert:
- 2019: Christian Thielemann (for the first time)
- 2020: Andris Nelsons (another first timer)
- 2021: Riccardo Muti’s (his sixth time at the event, having previously conducted at the 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, and 2018 concerts)
- 2022: Daniel Barenboim, another “old hand” having conducted the event in 2009 and 2014
The honour of conducting the 2023 New Year’s Concert goes to Franz Welser-Möst, who also took charge of the 2011 and 2013 events.
Welser-Möst knows the orchestra well; his association with the Philharmoniker began back in early 1998, when he first conducted them in Salzburg.
The concert typically includes polkas, waltzes, and similar from the Strauss family and their contemporaries. A traditional encore is The Blue Danube waltz from Joseph Strauss II and the Radetzky March from Joseph Strauss I. Find the 2023 programme at the Philharmoniker website, once available.
New Year’s Concert tickets & dates
Vienna has a tradition of egalitarian access to culture. So, for example, you can see opera at the State Opera House for as little as the price of a cup of coffee.
Tickets for the New Year concert performances start at €20 (for the preview concert on December 30th), though you can pay much more, of course. The best seats at the main event on January 1st cost €1200.
The good news is you have as great a chance of getting a ticket as just about anyone. The bad news is that this chance is not very high.
A simple lottery decides who can buy tickets, which you enter online at the Wiener Philharmoniker website. To do so, you must register your application at the site much earlier in the year. Full details here.
If you miss out on tickets (I once heard that over 400,000 people apply), you can always switch on the television.
Austria’s state broadcaster (ORF) shows the New Year’s Day event live on the ORF 2 channel or you can listen in on the radio (Ö1 station).
ORF famously mixes in a couple of recorded dance scenes with the broadcast. Last year, this included the Spanish Riding School (performing to Johann Strauss’s Nymphen Polka) and the Vienna State Ballet (performing to Johann Strauss II’s A Thousand and One Nights waltz in the Schönbrunn Palace complex).
You don’t even have to be in Austria to enjoy the orchestra’s work on TV and radio. The New Year’s Concert was broadcast live to 92 countries in 2022, for example.
The 2022/2023 dates are:
- December 30, 2022 – the Preview Performance (11am)
- December 31, 2022 – the New Year’s Eve Concert (7.30pm)
- January 1, 2023 – the New Year’s Concert (11.15am)
The Philharmoniker normally bring out a CD, DVD, etc. of the event remarkably quickly.
Incidentally, the open-air Rathausplatz Film Festival in summer has often included a recording of the most-recent concert as a programme point.
How to get to the Musikverein
For directions, should you be lucky enough to get tickets, see the main Musikverein article.
Address: Musikvereinsplatz 1, 1010 Vienna