Vienna's New Year's concert now heard even in ... Mongolia

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The Independent Culture

Vienna's traditional New Year's concert, led once again by the dynamic French conductor Georges Pretre, will reach out to an even wider audience this year, broadcasting to 72 countries around the globe.

Broadcast for the first time in Mongolia, Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Trinidad, the Vienna Philharmonic's 2010 "Neujahrskonzert" will reach an estimated audience of 50 million, organisers said.

"It is an opportunity, via radio and television, to deliver a message of love and peace to the world," the 85-year-old Pretre told journalists in Vienna.

"For two hours, everyone can forget their worries," added the conductor with the elegant charm and easy smile.

For two hours indeed, the audience seated in Vienna's golden Musikverein or in front of their television, will be treated to a spectacle of classical music and dance, with an added touch of glamour from fashion designer Valentino.

The retired Italian couturier created the costumes for the Vienna Opera's dancers this year - in his signature red - fulfilling a lifelong dream and marking another first in the concert's history.

The dancers, along with Paris Opera stars Eleonora Abbagnato and Nicolas Le Riche, will perform choreographies by Renato Zanella in pre-taped interludes broadcast during the concert.

A tribute to the waltz and to the Strauss dynasty of composers, the concert - which is always notoriously sold out a year in advance - will be broadcast for the first time in high-definition (HDTV) and on the Internet at http:/

Pretre, who first conducted the New Year's concert in 2008, was invited back by the Philharmonic after his first foray proved a great success.

He now belongs to an elite group of "Neujahrskonzert" conductors - from the legendary Herbert von Karajan and Zubin Mehta to Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Lorin Maazel, Riccardo Muti and Seiji Ozawa.

Alongside the usual Strauss waltzes, Pretre has added pieces by Jacques Offenbach, Philharmonic founder Otto Nicolai and Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye to the 2010 programme.

More than a cultural event, the New Year concert has now turned into a major business, with CDs and DVDs always produced in record times and selling like hot cakes.

The 2010 CD edition is already scheduled to appear on the market on January 7 and the DVD on January 14.