Those who are looking to dance the waltz on New Year’s Eve are best served doing it in the self-proclaimed world capital of the genre – Vienna. When the “Pummerin” – the largest bell in St.Stephen’s Cathedral – rings out, the Blue Danube starts playing from the streets and the stars above engage in a twinkling competition with the fireworks, distinguished men and women of the world know that they are in the right place at the right time.
At the turn of the year, Vienna is a city full of possibilities. Obviously, the classics aren’t only metaphorically significant but doubly relevant when it’s here where they came from – the classical music of Austria. Snagging a ticket for the New Year’s Concert is an exceptionally lucky break. Every year, this prestigious event is broadcast to over 90 countries – with 50 million mesmerized (or still slightly tipsy) viewers sat in front of their screens, allowing the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to captivate them. That makes it all the more special to be one of the chosen few to witness these notes played live in the perfect acoustic environment. But getting tickets is not that easy – because they are so highly sought after, one must take part in a raffle on their website in order to gain access to the halls of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
Our dear Mr. Strauss and his Blue Danube Waltz
Australia has its ostriches. Austria has Strauss. While they may sound similar, they are very different. When we talk about New Year’s Eve, we are definitely talking about Mr. Johann Strauss, no relation to the bird. One thing they do have in common are their songs, Mr. Strauss arguably had a lot more and managed to write one that is known to every Austrian: the world’s most famous waltz, bearing the title “The Blue Danube”. Nobody really knows precisely why, but this piece of music is synonymous with the turn of the year and an honourable dance is just as customary as a sparkling glass of champagne or a peck on the cheek. And so, the old year makes its swinging exit in three-four time as the first few minutes of the new one commenced. At no other time of the year are the hearts of Austrians beating more in unison. It is a piece of culture that also finds its reprise at the New Year’s Concert, as an encore to the main programme.