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December 31: The Complex History Behind a Vienna Philharmonic Tradition

Oliver Rathkolb

A global event today, the orchestra’s annual New Year’s Concert took shape during dark days in Austrian history.

If the Vienna Philharmonic’s annual New Year’s Concert is a global success, its legacy and reach rest on five pillars: a marvelous orchestra; internationally renowned conductors; a timeless repertoire, by the Strauss family and other composers of the 19th century; a splendid location, the gilded Musikverein; and TV broadcasts watched most recently by some 1.2 million people in 92 countries on five continents. (Full text)

Oliver Rathkolbs article in the New York Times

Rehearsal for the 2023 New Year´s Concert, 29.12.2022.
Copyright: Wiener Philharmoniker / Dieter Nagl

German full text

30. December: The Strauss Brothers and the Music Society

Otto Biba

After the city walls of Vienna were torn down and the surrounding moat filled in, a magnificent boulevard was to be built in its place. The Society of Friends of Music (Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde) then received a plot of land from Emperor Franz Joseph I for the construction of a new Music Society (Musikverein) building, since they had grown out of the previous one on Tuchlauben, one of the most distinguished streets of the inner city. (English full text)

December 29: Birthplace of the waltz king Strauss son

Isabella Sommer

In the noble district of Hietzing, at least according to its name, a coffee house today reminds of a once famous establishment: in “Dommayers Casino” the great composers played in the 19th century – but above all, Johann Strauss junior made his debut as a conductor there at the age of not quite 19, celebrated by the whole of Vienna, and from then on rivaled his famous father. (Full text on ORF Topos)


28 December: This is how a successful music piece works in 2023.

Gerald Heidegger

If a waltz in the 19th century sometimes wanted to be a symphony in the short space of eight minutes, in the present day the challenges to a song are no less great. Today, one has between 2.10 and 2.40 minutes to bring one’s own composition to the audience, says musician and former song contest participant Cesar Sampson in a Straussmania interview. (Full text on ORF Topos)


27 December: When Vienna became a lagoon city

Christian Glanz

In the last third of the 19th century, entertainment in Vienna increasingly focused on sensation. In its most spectacular form, it offered its own worlds of experience that allowed the public to immerse itself in a different reality. This form of escapism, including the more or less authentic flair of the city that gave it its name, was offered, for example, in “Venice in Vienna. (Full text on ORF Topos)


Gabor Steiner (ehemals im Besitz von), Fritz Luckhardt (Fotograf), Ansicht aus dem Vergnügungspark “Venedig in Wien” im Prater , 1895, Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. 49616/12, CC0 (https://sammlung.wienmuseum.at/objekt/423688/)

December 26: Strauss music on tour in Europe

Norbert Rubey

Extensive concert tours of the family dynasty carry the fame of the Viennese waltz and especially of the Strauss family throughout Europe in the 19th century. All the Strausses go on tour abroad, the family business flourishes. Eduard Strauss is particularly restless. Last but not least, the third-born Strauss son receives more recognition far from home. (Full text on ORF Topos)


25 December: Sophiensäle: From steam bath to dance floor

Isabella Sommer

In the Biedermeier era, Vienna’s first Russian steam bath was built, but its resourceful owner soon converted part of the location into a “multi-purpose hall. This was later expanded, and the Sophienbad eventually became the Sophiensäle. The dancing Viennese are thrilled and spin here at balls of all kinds. Musically only the best is offered, also all “Sträusse”; play on. (Full text on ORF Topos)

24th December: Eduard Strauss I. and Eduard Strauss II. in America

Eduard Strauss I – Two Tours of America with the Strauss Orchestra

Norbert Rubey

During a concert tour of Germany Eduard Strauss got to know the American concert agent David
Blakely. After lengthy negotiations a contract was signed at the end of February 1890: concerts and
matinees were to be given in more than 70 towns and cities in the north-east of the USA and Canada
with the Strauss Orchestra (42 musicians and three assistants) between May and December 1890. In
particular, regular events were to be held on the newly opened Madison Square Garden in New York. (English full text)

German full text on ORF Topos: https://topos.orf.at/straussmania-eduard-strauss-usa100

Eduard Strauss II –
Another Viennese Kapellmeister in America and even in Japan

Eduard Strauss

Eduard Strauss I. (1835 – 1916) disbanded the Strauss Chapel, founded by his father in 1827, on the following day, February 13, 1901, after giving his last concert in New York on February 12, 1901. Eduard Strauss I was 65 years old at the time and retired to his apartment at Reichsratsstraße 9 (1010 Vienna). Some 65 years later, in the fall of 1966, his grandson, the conductor Eduard Strauss II (1910 – 1969), embarked on an extensive tour of the USA and Canada with the specially founded Vienna Johann Strauss Orchestra. (German full text)

Eduard Strauss II. in Japan 1962; c. Familienarchiv Prof. Dr. Eduard Strauss
Eduard Strauss II. at “Theater an der Wien” 1963 c. Familienarchiv Prof. Dr. Eduard Strauss

23 December: Contemporary History Sketches of the Ball of the City of Vienna

Oliver Rathkolb

It was to take nineteen years before the distinguished “Citizens’ Ball”, which premiered in 1872in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph, moved from the Redoutensaal of the Vienna Hofburgto the newly built City Hall as the “Ball of the City of Vienna”. Quite deliberately, theincreasingly self-confident bourgeoisie symbolically stood up to the “court balls” and theparticularly exclusive aristocratic “court balls”. Joining this progressive trend at the openingon February 1, 1890 were Carl Michael Zierer, who composed the Viennese Citizen (WienerBürger) waltz (op. 419), and Johann Strauss with his City Hall Ball Dances (Rathaus-Ball-Tänzen) (op. 439). (Fulltext)

22 December: “Colossal” dancing pleasure in Brigittenau

Cornelia Szabó-Knotik

In the Biedermeier era, many of Vienna’s suburbs offered the pleasure-seeking city dwellers their own dance establishment. A special feature here was the “Colosseum” in the suburban town of Brigittenau. The attraction that gave it its name was a gigantic elephant made of papier-mâché with a volcano model in its giant skull. If contemporary reports are to be believed, the dancing and partying of the masses was pretty much the order of the day. (Full text on ORF Topos)