Themed evenings have been a feature of Proms history. From the very first season of the Promenade Concerts in 1895, through the lifespan of the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts to the BBC Proms over a century later, there have been Wagner nights, Beethoven nights and, since 1947, Viennese nights on a regular basis. In post-war Britain these proved to be immensely popular, with conductors such as Malcolm Sargent, John Barbirolli, John Pritchard and Vilém Tausky (sadly, not preserved on film) turning Viennese Night at the Proms into light-hearted musical events whose spirit and atmosphere rivalled those of the traditional Last Night of the Proms in tems of the audience's uninhibited and vociferous participative enjoyment of 'typical' Viennese music – the waltzes, marches and polkas of the Strauss dynasty, Lehár and von Suppé, among others.
In this programme, you'll experience the spirit of a uniquely British music festival, with tracks taken over a vintage span in its history, the six years from 1974 to 1979, when James Loughran and Walter Susskind shared the conducting honours and János Fürst (included here on a bonus track) added an idiomatic Hungarian flavour to the proceedings. Other countries and cultures have their popular 'let-your-hair-down' concerts too, but none has an audience that quite rivals the Prommers in their (Johann) Straussian element, swaying in time to the music, humming along, or taking partners and dancing in the Proms Arena, as the mood takes them. Audience participation occasionally becomes a little intrusive, but Prommers have always been remarkably quick and responsive to a 'shhh', and when the music-making is of real quality, the sound of Proms silence is remarkable! Total silence cannot be guaranteed throughout every track selected here, but the programme has a Viennese lilt all of its own and some favourite numbers are guaranteed. The so-called 'waltz-king' Johann Strauss II dominates the programme, as he clearly has done at Viennese nights at the Proms over many years.
BBC Proms, 1981
Introduction, Rehearsal, and Performance