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
- Possibly the most-watched classical music event on the planet
- Two public performances of the programme occur on days before the main event
- Tickets allocated through an online lottery
- The three concerts take place on Dec 30, Dec 31, and (surprise!) Jan 1
- Daniel Barenboim conducts in 2021/2022
- See also: New Year in Vienna | Classical concerts
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 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 music.
History & 2022 highlights
This 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 conductor’s baton at the event but, since 1980, the honour of conducting the orchestra changes each year. 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.
(The Radetzky March, as played at the 2016 New Year’s Concert)
In 2019, Christian Thielemann conducted the New Year’s Concert for the first time. And another first timer took up the honour in 2020: Andris Nelsons. But 2020 saw the return of an old hand at these things. This was Riccardo Muti’s sixth time at the event, having previously conducted at the 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, and 2018 concerts.
The honour of conducting the 2021/2022 New Year’s Concert goes to Daniel Barenboim, another “old hand” having conducted the event in 2009 and 2014.
Barenboim knows the orchestra well; his association with the Philharmoniker began when he played piano under Zubin Mehta’s direction at the 1965 Salzburg Festival.
The concert programme traditionally features the usual polkas, waltzes, and similar from the Strauss family and their contemporaries. A traditional encore is The Blue Danube waltz from Strauss junior and the Radetzky March from Strauss senior. More details nearer the time…
New Year’s Concert tickets & dates
(The Musikverein concert hall)
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, though you can pay much more, of course. The best seats at the main event 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 in February. 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) typically shows the New Year’s Day event live on their ORF 2 channel or you can listen in on the radio (the ORF’s Ö1 station).
You don’t even have to be in Austria to enjoy the orchestra’s work. The New Year’s Concert was broadcast live to 92 countries in 2021.
The 2021/2022 dates are:
- December 30, 2021 – the Preview Performance (11am)
- December 31, 2021 – the New Year’s Eve Concert (7.30pm)
- January 1, 2022 – the New Year’s Concert (11.15am)
If you miss out on the broadcast, then the Philharmoniker normally bring out a CD, DVD, etc. of the event remarkably quickly.
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