Well, there's another reason. As is our New Year's tradition here at Casa Jaquandor, we watched the Great Performances PBS telecast of the annual New Year's From Vienna concert on New Year's night, as we've done for years. (I actually started watching this concert while I was in high school.) The concert -- performed by the Vienna Philharmonic under a different guest conductor each year -- is always accompanied by wonderful photography and dance in and around various locations in Vienna, relating to the history of that great city and of Austria during the time of the Strauss family. It's always been a gorgeous thing to watch, but this year was the first time we got to watch the concert in HD, and it was more than gorgeous: it was revelatory. Details from the Musikverein and the other locales just burst from the screen. The telecast was just amazingly beautiful, in a way I'd never appreciated before in the more than twenty years I've been watching this concert every year.
The musical part of the performance, by the way, was first rate in every way. The conductor was Frenchman Georges Pretre, and he made the effervescent elegance of the Strauss music shine forth so amazingly that the notes themselves seemed to sparkle. How I wish I could attend this concert in person, just one time! Here are two of the numbers from that concert, the most famous final two encores. I was unable to find a video of the first that includes the wonderful tradition in which the first notes are interrupted by applause, prompting the conductor to address the audience with a brief New Year's message, but the music itself is the thing. Here is On the Beautiful Blue Danube, accompanied this year not by ballet dancers but with a photographic journey along the Danube from its source to its mouth at the Black Sea:
And here's the final encore, by tradition the final piece played every year. Also traditional is the rhythmic clapping, directed to loudness or softness by the conductor. The Radetzky March:
Just wonderful music making.