One of my longstanding New Year’s traditions is watching the annual New Year’s concert from the Vienna Musikverein (where I finally had a chance to attend a concert [though not the New Year’s concert] during my two-day trip to Vienna in 2010). Here in Alabammy my local PBS station doesn’t carry the concert; but that’s what the internet is for:
Clapping along to the Radetzky March (at 1:21:50) is a little less fun when you realise the piece is celebrating the defeat of Italian forces fighting for independence from the Austrian Empire (the bad one, not this blog). But then a lot of great art is devoted to the celebration of bad stuff. (I’m not sure the Radetzky March is great art, but it’s pleasant art.)
Another New Year’s tradition, one I celebrate somewhat more irregularly, is watching Die Fledermaus, an operetta I’ve loved ever since I was very young. I didn’t watch it this year (too busy writing up pieces I owe various publishers – with no daylight in sight as yet!), but I made sure to listen to the overture at least, as it features many of my favourite themes from the larger work:
My history with Die Fledermaus is a bit odd. When I was nine or so, I came across the book Merry Go Round in Oz, which was written by the grandmother of someone who would eventually become a good friend of mine in grad school. One of the characters in the book was a winged mouse (not a bat, he would insist) called a Flittermouse, which is why, in a San Diego used bookstore one day, a dusty libretto of Die Fledermaus caught my eye. I must be one of the few people to have become a fan of Die Fledermaus through the libretto first. But then a few years later I caught the operetta on tv and became, properly, a still greater fan of the music.