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Julie Andrews to Hosts FROM VIENNA on PBS, 1/1

Stage and screen legend Julie Andrews returns for the third year to host the festive annual New Year's celebration with the Vienna Philharmonic, under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst from Vienna's Musikverein.

"From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2011," featuring the much-loved melodies of the Strauss Family, will air Saturday, January 1 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). "Great Performances" is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET.ORG, one of America's most prolific and respected public media providers.

The venerable concert is the largest world-wide event in classical music reaching over a billion people annually through radio and television in 72 countries. The Vienna Philharmonic's traditional New Year's program has showcased Viennese musical culture at the highest level, and since the first television broadcast in 1959, sent the world a New Year's greeting in the spirit of hope, friendship and peace. (The telecast has been a Great Performances tradition on PBS since 1985.)

Andrews is delighted to return to Vienna for what has become for her a most pleasurable tradition. "I so look forward to coming to this magical city at holiday time, basking in the glorious sights and sounds around me, especially those enchantingly beautiful Strauss waltzes played with an authenticity that is simply irresistible."

She has been a frequent and luminous presence on Great Performances, starting with "An Evening with Alan Jay Lerner" (1989); "Julie Andrews in Concert" (1990); "Some Enchanted Evening: Celebrating Oscar Hammerstein II" (1995); "Back on Broadway" which spotlighted her return to the Great White Way in "Victor/Victoria" (1995); "Hey, Mr. Producer! The Musical World of Cameron Mackintosh" (1998); "My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies" (1999); its follow-up "My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs" (2001); and the restoration of the classic 1957 "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella" (2004). She also hosted the Emmy Award-winning series Broadway: The American Musical in 2004.

As is customary with these broadcasts, the camera will utilize several opulent locations in the Musikverein hall itself, and venture outside the hall to visit myriad picturesque Vienna landmarks, including:

  • Franz Liszt's living room on the anniversary of the composer's birth and a performance of his "Mephisto Waltz I"
  • the splendid Winter Riding School in the Hofburg Palace, home of the famed Lipizzaner Stallions, leading into the Johann Strauss' "Spanish March"
  • the former Lobkovitz Palace, and now the Austrian Theatre Museum, where Beethoven's "Eroica Symphony" was first played, for a tribute to the legendary Viennese dancer Fanny Elssler. When Elssler danced in the United States, Congress was halted in Washington during the time she was there dancing. Johann Strauss' "Cachucha Gallop" commemorates the famous Spanish dance she performed.
  • The Vienna State Opera, for an interview with Welser- Möst and a ballet set to Josef Strauss' "From Far Away Polka Mazur Dance"
  • The visionary artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser's eccentric home
  • The Vienna Technical Museum which houses the historic 1888 Marcus Car, a direct predecessor of the modern automobile from inventor Siegfried Marcus leading into Eduard Strauss' "Non Stop, Quick Polka"
  • Laudon Castle in the Vienna Woods where a ballet set to Josef Strauss' "The Course of My Life is Love and Laughter" will be performed

And, of course, no celebration of Strauss music would be complete without Johann Strauss II's "On the Beautiful Blue Danube" waltz which accompanies a ballet by young dancers in the Musikverein hall; and the elder Strauss' "Radetsky March."

Chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Clemens Hellsberg stated, "With the invitation to Franz Welser-Möst to conduct our New Year's Concert in 2011, the Vienna Philharmonic appreciates their common artistic work in both opera and concert, which has continuously grown in musical understanding and is mutually fulfilling." Franz Welser-Möst added, "It is truly a special pleasure and honor to be invited by the Vienna Philharmonic to conduct in 2011."

Franz Welser-Möst began his tenure year as Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra in 2002. Concurrently with his post in Cleveland, Mr. Welser-Möst became General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera in September. In 2011, Mr. Welser-Möst and the Orchestra launch a biennial residency at New York's Lincoln Center Festival, featuring The Cleveland Orchestra in Vienna State Opera productions.

Following his 1989 American debut and prior to his appointment in Cleveland, Mr. Welser-Möst regularly guest-conducted the orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia. Mr. Welser-Möst was also music director of the London Philharmonic from 1990 to 1996. Across his decade-long tenure with the Zurich Opera, culminating in three seasons as General Music Director (2005-08), Mr. Welser-Möst led more than 40 new productions.

Mr. Welser-Möst's recordings and videos have won the Gramophone Award, Diapason d'Or, Japanese Record Academy Award, and two Grammy nominations. Mr. Welser-Möst has been recognized by the Western Law Center for Disability Rights and is an honorary member of the Vienna Singverein.

"Great Performances" is funded by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, the Irene Diamond Fund, Vivian Milstein, the Starr Foundation, Vera von Kuffner Eberstadt, public television viewers, and PBS.
From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration is directed by Brian Large, with John Walker as producer/writer. For Great Performances, John Walker and Cara Cosentino are producers; Bill O'Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.

Visit Great Performances Online at for additional information about this and other programs.

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