Vienna Philharmonic faces New Year’s concert without an audience

Vienna Philharmonic faces New Year’s concert without an audience


norman lebrecht

November 25, 2020

The orchestra’s chairman Daniel Froschauer has talked for the first time of plans to stage the New Year curtain-raiser in an empty hall.

Riccardo Muti is the scheduled conductor.

It’s a wait-and-see Covid situation. At the moment, Vienna’s in total lockdown.


  • pianoguy says:

    an empty hall might not be a problem given that it will still be televised – lots of conductor / orchestra close-ups and fade-outs to locked-down Vienna. piped-in applause? or just silence?

  • Gustavo says:

    I wonder how they’ll handle the silence inbetween without sounding like John Cage.

  • Better than nothing like for the 7th of December at La Scala

  • Karl says:

    How can they play the Radetzky March without the audience to keep them on beat?

    • Maybe there will be 10 or 20 members of the staff of the VPO in the concert hall and they will make a little bit of noise… We have seen that for few concerts of the Concertgebouw. Important also to know if the flowers from San Remo will be there I hope so! And of course it will be important that someone like every year stop by a clapping the first attempt to start the An der schönen blauen Donau! and that Muti says “PROSIT NEUJAHR”

  • Daniel A. says:

    I don’t see the problem here. After all, von Karajan had cardboard cut out audience members for some of his films. You can do the same thing for NYE 🙂

    • You are absolutely right. Karajan’s elaborately staged video productions were a fraud. The BPO was “lip-synching” to recordings they had already made in a studio.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Is that right??!!!

        • Petros Linardos says:

          Absolutely. These are well known facts. Moreover, in video only sessions Karajan sometimes substituted bearded guys with clean shaved ones.

        • Balding Commenter says:

          It’s even worse: some balding members of the orchestra were required to wear wigs in order to meet HvK’s idea of how the orchestra should look on film. Search on YouTube, I think there are a couple of documentaries about his film work.

    • Gustavo says:

      How fitting that Riccardo Muti is featuring – the Maestro with the fake Severus-Snape-style hairdo.

      • Marfisa says:

        Is it now OK to comment on the hair of female conductors, like Mirga (in the post on the recent CBSO concert)?

      • Tom Varley says:

        I recall leaving the hall at the Academy of Music for intermission of a Philadelphia Orchestra concert conducted by Muti in the 1970s. I was walking behind two elderly women, one of whom said, “Isn’t he wonderful!” Her companion replied, “Yes! No matter what he does his hair always falls back in place.”

  • Melisande says:

    Wouldn’t it be litterally and physically healthier to just refrain from this event? It might be an opportunity to think about a new concept which will be more suited to nowsadays tastes.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Vienna’s New Year’s Day concert has a huge worldwide following. Although recent concerts are nowhere as good as Kleiber’s or Karajan’s, not to speak of Boskovsky or Krauss, the level is still very high, about as high and idiomatic as it gets these days. If people want to listen to Viennese stylized dance music, this is by far their best chance. This music suffers from poor performances elsewhere.

      Conductors still have the chance to put together a thoughtful program that combines staples with lesser known works.

  • John P Leopold says:

    The consummate start of a new year. Let’s all clap at home and hop e for brighter days ahead,

  • Tristan says:

    since Carlos Kleiber it hasn’t been anything special and no problem if we have a break and just play the two Kleiber did instead as it will be never like this again…..

    • henry williams says:

      tristan. i do agree kleiber cannot be replaced

    • Manu says:

      Most of the people who think only Kleiber did this right have not watched this ever since. He was good, a virtuoso of the baton, yeah, and the concerts with him were superb, but others also did nice things, ans specially the orchestra delivers usually that day. Others failed completely, yes. Others say they could only bare this concert with Harnoncourt. That’s equally unfair.

    • MezzoLover says:

      Especially the one he did in 1992:

      There should have been no more New Year’s concerts after this one – pure magic.

      • Rachelle Goldberg says:

        Thank you so much for providing the link for this New Year’s Day Concert. It was superb. I also remember it so well because it was really outstanding. It was quite nostalgic watching the performance because I knew some of the Violin section having studied with them in Vienna. What was also particularly noteworthy is that it would be the Concertmaster’s last New Year’s Day Concert. He was Gerhart Hetzel who had a tragic mountaineering accident when they were performing at the Salzburg Festival during the Summer of 1992. Other luminaries performing include the principal Clarinettist Ernst Ottenshamer, the father of Daniel and Andreas.

      • Rachelle Goldberg says:

        I should add that the Violinist sitting behind Gerhart is Rainer Honeck!!!

    • pjl says:

      Pretre was nearly as good in my view

  • Riccardo Grieco says:

    Il maestro Riccardo Muti dall’Italia a Vienna, ma a tutto il mondo, porti con i Valtzer degli Strauss, una musica di luce da queste tenebre.

  • JussiB says:

    The acoustics in the Musikverein is going to be horrible without an audience.

  • Michael says:

    It would be fun if they ran a limited capacity lottery for the “privilege” of being able to pay for a live stream. Anyone who did not win it could then look for black market inflated price tickets as in the old normal.

  • fflambeau says:

    Muti will cost an arm and a leg. Without an audience, this will be cancelled for sure.

    • Simon says:

      You’re joking, right? They just made millions in Japan, the orchestra is virtually Austria’s only global asset and this concert is their biggest commercial. They could pay Muti 100K and it wouldn’t even come out of their annual funding

  • leonardo says:

    confiemos que al menos un publico en capacitad limitada, seria muy solitario no ver aplausos y demas en el concierto:(

  • Jimmy says:

    I always listen to the broadcasts live on my stereo. Then, you can be assured it’s truly live and not taped for later viewing or listening on TV. I never watch the performance on TV with all that distracting ballet filler and exteriors of buildings for the umpteenth time. Just give me the music.