|No. 350 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast350|
This week's montage, our first for 2021 is an extended podcast - exceeding our self-imposed 90 minute limit by over 13 minutes.
New Year’s Eve is known as Silvester in Austria. It’s the Roman Catholic feast day of the same-named pope and saint, who died on December 31st, AD 335. None of which has any relevance, though, to how Vienna celebrates the turn of the year.
At midnight, the giant Pummerin bell of Vienna’s St Stephen’s cathedral rings in the New Year with the chimes broadcast across TV and radio. Once the last echoes of the Pummerin fade away, all hell breaks loose as fireworks across the city burst into action.
Broadcasters then switch to the Blue Danube waltz and everyone dances in the New Year as lights explode across the night sky.
All of the works featured today carry Vienna in their title - most of them by Austrian composers, including members of the \Strauss family. The lone exception is the final work - Ravel\s masterpiece La valse,
The idea of La valse began first with the title "Vienne", then Wien (French and German for "Vienna", respectively) as early as 1906, where Ravel intended to orchestrate a piece in tribute to the waltz form and to Johann Strauss II. After his service in the French Army, Ravel returned to his original idea of the symphonic poem Wien, choosing to retile the work as anything German-sounding after the Great War had lost favour with audiences.
As Ravel would later put it, "Whether or not it was intended as a metaphor for the predicament of European civilization in the aftermath of the Great War, its one-movement design plots the birth, decay and destruction of a musical genre: the waltz."
I think you will love this music too.