Gustavo Dudamel is the youngest conductor to be given the New Year’s honors in Vienna.
  • Gustavo Dudamel is the youngest conductor to be given the New Year’s honors in Vienna.
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Video:

Carlos Kleiber

"Die Fledermaus" — J. Strauss — New Year's Concert 1989

"Die Fledermaus" — J. Strauss — New Year's Concert 1989

The Viennese Waltz has become the official anthem of New Year’s, at least in classical circles. On each New Year’s day the Vienna Philharmonic gives a concert of music predominantly by the Strauss dynasty.

Since 1986 the philharmonic has chosen a different guest conductor each year for this tradition that started in the darkest days of 1941. This year the guest is Gustavo Dudamel. Dudamel is the artistic and musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and is the youngest conductor to be given the New Year’s honors.

Video:

Herbert Von Karajan

Strauss' "Fledermaus Overture" — Vienna Philharmonic — New Year's concert 1987

Strauss' "Fledermaus Overture" — Vienna Philharmonic — New Year's concert 1987

There have been legendary New Year’s concerts in the past, and Dudamel is the latest in a line of giants who have rung in the Viennese New Year. Herbert von Karajan’s 1987 concert was the standard until Carlos Kleiber’s in 1989 and 1992.

Other notable conductors for this concert are Lorin Maazel (1986, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2005), Riccardo Muti (Riccardo Muti (1993, 1997, 2000, 2004), and Zubin Mehta (1990, 1995, 1998, 2007, 2015).

As renowned as those conductors are, Kleiber and von Karajan remain the gold standard for the New Year. Time will tell where Dudamel falls in this pantheon. Rest assured this won’t be the last time he conducts on New Year’s in Vienna.

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