New Year's Quote from Riccardo Muti

Zhong Ruoyu

We are playing this New Year’s Concert in a very unusual situation. We know that we are playing for many millions of people around the world – practically more than 90 different countries – but it’s very strange for us to play in such a beautiful, historical hall completely empty. But the orchestra played wonderfully, not only because they wanted to convey to you the message of music, but because all of us, the Wiener Philharmoniker, are surrounded by the spirits of Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, that, in this hall, along with many other composers and interpreters in this hall, made history.

A few words just about the fact that, of course, we all had a very, very difficult year – actually, an annus horribilis, as in Latin I would say. But we are still here, believing in the message of music. Musicians have, in their weapons, flowers. Not things that kill. We bring joy, hope, peace, brotherhood, Love with a capital “L”. So music is important, not because it’s entertainment… Many times we see music considered as entertainment. Music is not only a profession, but is a mission! That is why we do this work. So a mission for what? To make the society better. To think about the new generation, that in one complete year has been deprived of deep thinking, thinking all the time about health. Health is the foremost important thing; but also the health of the mind. And music helps. So my message to the governors, and presidents, and prime ministers everywhere in every part of the world – consider culture, always, as one of the primary – primario – elements, to have a better society in the future.

With this message, we will play now the famous “Blue Danube”, and I hope that on the waves of this beautiful music full of joy and sadness, life and death, we can hope for a better year. This is why I would like to ask all my colleagues here to say “Happy New Year” in their wonderful language. So, I would say: Die Wiener Philharmoniker und Ich wünschen ihnen Prosit Neujahr!

Grazie.

(Speech by Maestro Riccardo Muti during the Neujahrskonzert 2021)