Who’s conducting Vienna on New Year 2021?

Who’s conducting Vienna on New Year 2021?


norman lebrecht

January 01, 2020

Him, again (the one on the left).

It will be the sixth time Riccardo Muti has conducted New Year’s Day in Vienna.

They say: ‘Riccardo Muti holds an exceptional position in the history of the Vienna Philharmonic and has been an Honorary Member of the orchestra since 2011. As an expression of this close artistic relationship, we have asked him to conduct the New Year’s Concert on January 1, 2021, for the sixth time’.

Happy for Riccardo, but haven’t they just run out of ideas?


  • Muti is very good for this kind of things. But I would like to see other faces the first of January in Vienna franckly : Fischer, Chung (in Venise he’s perfect) Jordan or Chailly. It’s strange that he’s coming back, the last time it was not a long time along…. Maybe someone refused first

  • Gustavo says:

    They may wish to ask Neeme Järvi.

    He is great with Strauß et al.

    • You are wiright! Jarvi Father was fantastic in Waldbhune 2006. But I don’t know if he ever player with the Winer.

      • Gustavo says:

        He’s been to the Musikverein with the Gothenburg and Estonian orchestras, but somehow nobody has considered him for the Wieners.


        He has an extensive discography that includes Suppé, the Strauß family, Offenbach, Fucik any many more composers of “light music”.

  • R. Brite says:

    With Marin Alsop having been named chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the chairman of the Philharmonic saying recently that it was considering women conductors, dare we hope that sometime in this decade that big step will be taken … ?

    • Alsop would be a very good choice. I confirm. But I would prefere first Elim Chan she did a fantastic opening night this year at Amsterdam.

    • Novagerio says:

      Marin Alsop? Are you kidding?? This divinely elegant music with a conductor/conductress with two right arms, both in plaster casts? As if it wasn’t bad enough with the latest conductor!…

  • Greg Bottini says:

    I saw a televised Waldbuhne concert conducted by Ion Marin (Berlin Phil) a few years back which was marvelous.
    If he’s still active and available, I think he would be an excellent choice.

  • erich says:

    A rather boring choice. He’s always been a high class bandmaster in that repertoire. It’s probably an early 80th birthday present from the VPO. Why not Jiggy, to shake them up, if they’re after prominent ‘ancients’. It might be too early to try one of the really talented newcomers – Shani or Viotti come to mind – but why the hell not? Or Mirga? The oldies in the hall might choke on their Sachertorten, but it could make way for the next generation to acquire seats!

  • Henry Rosen says:

    Wonder when the first woman to conduct will be? Surely Mirga or Karina Canellakis would do it rather well..let’s keep hoping..
    Happy New Year Norm. Thanks for keeping us all up to date.

    • Carlos says:

      What about Speranza Scappucci ? She has conducted the orchestra several times at the opera and has conducted symphonic concerts with Vienna Symphony in that rep too. Splendid presence at the Opera Ball in 2017…

  • Caio says:

    How about Manfred Honeck? He is a former viola player in VPO

  • Harold Wilkin says:

    Manfred Honeck or Simon Rattle would be interesting.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      I can’t imagine Rattle would enjoy it much. That style of music really isn’t his thing, as even he admits.

  • Tim says:

    On today’s evidence it’s utterly dead. They had the most inspirational of conductors today and ignored him completely – so telling how they simply never look up at him. It’s just so so so stale and simply came across as crude commercialism – an empty advertisement for the Austrian tourist board and nothing more.

    Rip the whole tawdry concept up and let Mirga have a go – they’re desperately in need of an inspired female at the helm.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Carlos Kleiber complained that orchestras never looked at him either. And that went way beyond the Wiener Philharmoniker.

      • Tim says:

        It’s very different to the UK orchestras I’ve worked with. As just one example – compare and contrast with the John Wilson Orchestra concert shown on New Year’s Eve on BBC 4 – absolutely every last eye glued to the stick so there was a chance of live, spontaneous music making.

        Not for the first time, I was surprised by the disrespect shown to a great conductor by VPO musicians.

        Strauss can still come alive – in the right hands and with an orchestra who are up for following…

    • Windsor Terrace Gremlin says:

      They are not in need of anyone at the helm. They could play the program without a conductor, which is apparently what they do anyway by ignoring whoever is on the podium. The role of the conductor in this is purely for marketing purposes.

    • Peter says:

      Those waltzes and polkas are rather tricky to play with all the repeats, dal segnos, first exits, second exits, fines, codas etc. Watch the conductor too much and you find yourself in the wrong part of the piece. You better see the conductor with your perioheral music while focusing on the intricate structure of the piece therefore, and the good conductor knows that very well.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    They could have Philippe Jordan the following year.

  • Tian says:


  • sam says:

    In an interview Muti complained it was exhausting to do the NYE concert, because it’s not just the televised concert, it’s a series of evening and matinée concerts with a tight rehearsal schedule.

    So you have to understand the players’ perspective also: they want a true and tried hand so they aren’t exhausted by learning new pieces and unfamiliar conductors.

    It’s all fun and waltzes for the public, but it’s long work days for the players away from family. Do they even get holiday pay?

  • Axl says:

    I like Muti but at the same time we see same old faces again and again all the time.
    I personally want see e.g. Sir Simon Rattle and Pablo Heras-Casado in action to conduct New Year’s concert

  • Herr Doktor says:

    Having heard Muti live with the VPO in December 2018 in Munich, there is definitely a special chemistry between them. I think it’s a great choice while Muti is still in basically good health and at the peak of his creative powers.

  • fflambeau says:

    Muti is not only great at this; he’s an international star. He’s a good choice even though a safe one.

  • Marie Christine says:

    Good choice !

    Muti and Thielemann are the best living conductors.

    • Gustavo says:

      What!? You must be joking!

      I watched parts of “Land des Lächelns” with Thielemann on New Year’s Eve and couldn’t stand it.

      Never seen so many silly movements, strange facial expressions before.

      He was wearing a golden bracelet.

      Slippedisc needs to check this one out.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        What has the bracelet got to do with anything? I find his conducting very precise, but I’m not the member of an orchestra which could play this repertoire in its sleep. Exceptionally well at that.

        • Gustavo says:

          I would have expected Toni Marschall to wear a bracelet but not a German conductor.

          Despite the bracelet, why did CT step down from the podium?

          He’s a real show man, right?

      • Novagerio says:

        Gustavo you poor thing…the orchestras Thielemann conduct will disagree with you, but what to do…
        Bracelet? Celibidache had also a bracelet, and it was heavy (!) – What’s that have to do with how the orchestra responds?
        I was personally by far more distracted by Nelson’s horizontal zap-zap-zapping cramps, his complete and utter lack of elegance and refinement. That he on top of it all wore a very ill-fitting black velvet issue making him look like a gorilla didn’t make things better, but never mind that, one uses one’s ears afterall…Worse is that there was zero connection between the elegant truly velvery sound of the orchestra and the clumsy zap-zapping from the podium…
        Have you by the way ever even paused to think or consider that what the orchestra brings out and how they react overall has to be related with the signals from the podium?…No, apparently you never have.

  • Rachel says:

    Time for Marin Alsop.

  • BassOne says:

    I’m sure this orchestra would manage fine without a conductor and led by the leader. I have often found the conductor’s antics distracting.

  • mary says:

    Believe it or not, a lot of conductors would rather not spend New Years eve working.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Muti has a long history with the VPO and is fine. I’ like to see Welser-Moest again, an actual Austrian. And Clemens Krauss, if that were possible. When if ever was the last time a vocal soloist sang at these concerts?

  • Johann Strauss the 21st says:

    What I would add to the tradition is one new written walz, polka by a living composer. Just to keep the concept a bit suprising 🙂

  • Gustavo says:

    This one is fun at 2:33.


    The orchestra must love CT.

  • Vitellio Scarpia says:

    Christian Badea would be an interesting choice.

    • Novagerio says:

      Vitellio Dracula: and what relation does he have with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien? Yes, he conducted a dozen of years at the Staatsoper, but are you sure he’s a friend of the orchestra who choses its conductors for all concerts?…

  • Dennis Polkow says:

    It is curious that the announcement did not emphasize the impetus behind the invitation, which was that 2021 would be Muti’s 50th anniversary with the Vienna Philharmonic. (Below is an interview we did just over two years ago where we discussed Muti’s long history with these concerts for anyone interested.) He used to do it every four years since he was first asked in 1993 but decided to stop in 2004. He was asked to do it fourteen years later and enough time had passed that he agreed. That 2018 concert was still in 2017 rehearsals when Muti was asked to come back in 2021 for the 50th anniversary of his VIenna Philharmonic debut.

  • Novagerio says:

    Hmm, again…(The one on the right)

  • The Grumpy Queer says:

    The age of dinosaurs will be back apparently

  • Jonas says:

    Why doesn’t Vanska get asked? Much more exciting than Muti.

    • Novagerio says:

      Jonas, you just killed me of laughter…
      First of all, you need to be one of the few selected personal friends of the orchestra, and preferably with a historic record. Second you need charisma. Third you need to have the feeling for and the charm to conduct that special music, and eventually convince the musicians that your ideas are worth following.
      Any further questions?…

      • Gustavo says:

        “… and eventually convince the musicians that your ideas are worth following.”

        … because they’ve just run out of ideas.

  • Rick Bragan says:

    A Great choice of a great conductor. Good Choice.

  • Wayne Palin says:

    Looking forward to Me Muti conducting again. Disappointed that he has chosen the Emperor Waltz

  • Brian Frost says:

    Why have they not asked anybody British, coved eexcepted they never have, will they ever or are Brits not good enough?