The 2021 Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert

With Daniel Harding and Igor Levit

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Program notes

Every year, as the days grow longer, Austria gets ready for one of the classical calendar’s highlights: the Vienna Philharmonic’s Summer Night Concert. This event, inaugurated in 2004, brings the prestigious ensemble together with some of the world’s most illustrious soloists—in front of an audience that regularly numbers more than 100,000—in the gardens of Vienna’s world-famous Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In 2021 the Vienna Philharmonic invited Daniel Harding to be the first British conductor to lead the Summer Night Concert, centered around the idea of Fernweh. From the German for "far" and "pain," the word signifies something like the opposite of homesickness—an aching for faraway places—and each work in the program represents a different country (Verdi for Italy, Sibelius for Finland, Debussy for France, Elgar for England...). The inimitable Igor Levit takes us to Russia with the monumental Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and we also make a stop in America with Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, shoot into outer space with Holst's Jupiter (from The Planets) and finally return to Earth, and to Austria, with Johann Strauss, Jr.'s Wiener Blut.

Photo © Julia Wesely

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