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Posts Tagged ‘Austria

In the entire world, New Year’s Eve as well as New Year’s Day are the occasion for magnificent fireworks and grand parties. Each country, each city, has its own traditions. One of the key events for all the music lovers of the world takes place in Vienna: the New Year’s Concert, Neujahrskonzert in German. This concert is performed by the Vienna Philharmonic in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein, which is adorned with thousands of flowers from Sanremo.

The origins of the New Year’s Concert

Strangely enough, the first New Year’s Concert took place on New Year’s Eve 1939, one year and a half after the Anschluss and barely a few month after the beginning of World War II. An “extraordinary concert” was performed for the Red Cross project Kriegswinterhilfswerk, inaugurated by Adolphe Hitler in order to help wounded soldiers. During the rest of the war, a concert was performed each year on January 1st under the conduction of Clemens Krauss, who was later suspended by the Allies due to investigations. In 1947, he took back the helm of the Vienna Philharmonic. He remained conductor of the New Year’s Concert until his death in 1954. The New Year’s Concert was then completely cut off from its war origins and was led by fifteen different conductors, among which Willi Boskovsky, who conducted it for 25 years, and Lorin Maazel, who was the first American to lead the New Year’s Concert and who conducted it eleven times.

Which compositions are played during the New Year’s Concert ?

Although the programme changes every year, the musical works of the Strauss family (Johann I, Johann II, Eduard and Josef) always have the pride of place during the New Year’s Concert. However, the compositions of some musicians, mainly Austrians, have also been heard on January 1st within the walls of the Golden Hall.

It should be noted that two works – two encores – traditionally bring the concert to a close. The Blue Danube, certainly one of the most famous waltz, is always interrupted by a round of applause from the audience as soon as the first notes are played, allowing the conductor and his orchestra to wish the members of the audience a happy new year before resuming playing. In the end comes the characteristic drum roll heralding the last encore. Radetzky March, named after the Marshall Josef Radetzky, a war hero who enabled Franz Joseph I to ascend the throne, has a particular importance in the heart of the audience. Indeed, it is possible for the members of audience to take part in the execution of the musical work by clapping their hands in rhythm. The conductor leads then both the orchestra and the audience in a harmony and synchrony which you would swear they have been rehearsed for a long time, and yet…

The New Year’s Concert 2012

This year, the New Year’s Concert will, as usual, take place on December 30th, December 31st and January 1st. The Vienna Philharmonic will be conducted by Mariss Jansons. The Latvian conductor had already successfully taken on this prestigious role in 2006. New Year’s Concert 2012 will be broadcast in 72 countries on the five continents with about fifty million people watching. As a result, Austria will have an international exposure, legacy of the Habsburg empire’s greatness. Furthermore, the New Year’s Concert is so popular that people had to register in January 2011 in order to attend it.

In a few days, you will be able to register for one the three concerts of the Vienna Philharmonic: the Preview Performance, New Year’s Eve Concert and New Year’s Concert 2013. Please, note that this is only a registration and not a booking. The officials, in the interest of equity, have indeed decided to implement a drawing to designate the future members of the audience. Therefore, unless you know high-ranking people, you can only count on your lucky star to satisfy your love for music.

Links:

Official website of the New Year’s Concert

Register for the drawing

For more information on the Vienna Philharmonic

New Year’s Eve in Vienna

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In France, folk costumes seem a little old-fashioned, or even completely out-of-date. It is hard to imagine a woman in Strasbourg wearing the famous Alsatian bow. However, it is not the same in German-speaking countries which has a strong attachment to its traditions. Therefore, in some areas, you can notice some women in Dirndl.

Dirndl (photo from Florian Schott)

The Dirndl is a traditional costume worn by women in Bavaria, in Tyrol, in the basin of Salzburg and in Liechtenstein.  The top of the Dirndl traditionally consists of a white, generally low-cut, blouse with puffed sleeves covered by a bodice while the bottom consists of a long gathered cotton skirt and an apron. The entire costume is made of hand-printed colourful fabrics. It should be noted that the placement of the knot is an indicator of the woman’s marital status, like the Tahitian Gardenia in Polynesia.

Dirndl is a word from the Austrian and Bavarian dialect, equivalent to the German word Dirn, referring to both a young woman and a servant in the countryside. The costume she wore was called the Dirndlgewand (literally the “gown of the maid”) which was later reduced to Dirndl. Nowadays this form is more used to refer to the alpine costume than to the woman wearing it.

Contrary to what you may think, the Dirndl was not originally worn in rural areas but in urban ones by burghers. In the upper classes, the Dirndl became more and more popular during the second half of the 19th century. At the time, it was considered as country garments and, as a result, upper-class women wore it during their stay out of the cities.

In the interwar years, during the economic crisis, the Dirndl was a great success mainly because of its attractive price, especially since other female garments were particularly expensive at the time. According to the tradition, the Dirndl should be worn on Sundays or during the celebrations in honour of the parish or the patron of the town. However, this costume has only been present in since the 1990’s. Therefore, during the Oktoberfest in Munich, a lot of women are seen wearing a Dirndl.

Nowadays, it is frequent to notice Austrian or Bavarian women wearing a Dirndl in their everyday life, regardless of their ages. It is only natural that the Dirndl should evolve with fashion. Consequently, it is now possible to find Dirndl in various lengths, different shades and different materials. However, since the 2000s, Dirndl have been even “part” of fashion for the great designers have put them in their collections, like Karl Lagerfeld and Oscar de la Renta in 2010 for instance.

Dirndl

 
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