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New Year's Day in Vienna means one thing: the world's hottest concert ticket, the annual Vienna Philharmonic waltz fest, broadcast worldwide, live in our late morning here. How many of us have padded around our homes New Year's day in recovery, regretting the choices of the night before, while the cheery waltzes, polkas and marches of the Strausses, Junior and Senior, tootled from our radios?
The Waltz Kings have always held a grip Austrians, and that includes that most unlikely of fans, Viennese composer Arnold Schoenberg.
Yes, that Arnold Schoenberg, the musical mad scientist who decided people would enjoy theoretical sound systems more than music, the inventor of the dreaded atonal Serialism that ruined composers' futures and emptied halls for decades.
So, in honor of New Year's Day, I present my favorite version of a Strauss waltz, Schoenberg's setting of Junior's "The Emperor," scored by Schoenberg in 1925 for a small chamber ensemble, part of a set of waltz transcriptions by Schoenberg and his acolytes, Webern and Berg.
This wonderful arrangement shows off all the details of my favorite Strauss confection, and it's great fun. (Make a note of that: You may never see the words "fun" and "Schoenberg" in the same place again.)
Talk about an earworm! This one will get stuck in your head …