Vienna Opera adopts weird Scottish practice

Or, as the Chinese say, it’s the Year of the Florez.

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      • Yes, it’s sung at the end of The Last Night of the Proms (at which Florez, as soloist, was a huge success) with the audience all linking arms. It was also sung at the Millennium celebrations, with even the Queen joining in.

      • It’s an Edinburgh saying which wishes long life to the other person. Lang means long, lum is a dialect word for chimney and reek, of course, is smell. Edinburgh chimneys used to be famously smelly – hence the nickname Auld Reekie for the city. As long as there was smoke coming from your chimney you were still alive and thriving. So Lang may yer lum reek to all!

        • Thank you. I thought it might allude to the reek of something distinctly more unpleasant than a chimney. I really must remember this expression for next time we have guests for dinner.

  • Auld Lang Syne is usually a shambles at any public or private occasion because for most people it’s merely a folk memory and memories are naturally unreliable. At the Last Night of the Proms it has been vastly improved since, in the last couple of years, the BBC has used an orchestration by Cedric Thorpe Davie (1913-1983). Davie studied with Vaughan Williams, Gordon Jacob and Kodaly; he was a prolific composer and arranger, who in 1945 made his artistic and teaching home at the University of St Andrews. Davie composed a number of arrangements of Auld Lang Syne: an orchestral version was performed at the final concert of the Edinburgh Festival in 1953, with the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Bruno Walter; the BBC uses a version they commissioned in 1979 for the LNOTP conducted by James Loughran. In my view, wider use of Davie’s engaging, everything-but-the-kitchen sink orchestration could help to rehabilitate Auld Lang Syne. However, it isn’t ever likely to replace the Radetzky March as the closer at the Musikverein on 1 January, especially not since Brexit…

  • PS: The precise origin of the tune of Auld Lang Syne is unclear, but it almost certainly derives from an old folk melody; the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote the words – some of them collected from earlier sources and the rest original – in 1788.

  • Nothing ‘weird’ about it, just a benevolent tradition. And certainly not as weird as the ROHCG production of Fledermaus that opened on New Year’s Eve back in 1977 with everyone singing in their native tongues, such as Kiri in Maori.

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