Rainer Hersch’s News Year’s Eve Bash isn’t the only concert to say farewell to 2016 and hello to 2017 – it’s part of a global tradition of music making at this festive time of celebration and merriment.
When did it all start?
The tradition of concerts on New Year’s Day has been going in Vienna since 1838 – if you include the Hofburg Court Orchestra’s at the Royal Hofburg Palace. Rainer Hersch’s New Year’s Eve Bash is going to be nowhere near as sedate but it is on December 31st so it’s definitely in the zone.
Which is the most famous?
Well, probably still the one from Austria when the Vienna Philharmonic (who normally slum it as the State Opera Orchestra) don their tails and step out at the famous Golden Hall of the Musikverein concert hall. 50 million in 90 countries around the world are watching – so no pressure then.
Oh yes, there is a hell of a lot of bling. It’s like that room you see in Trump Towers but, well, tasteful. And slightly less scary. Plus, whether the people who built it knew it or not, its classic shoebox dimensions has also given it fantastic acoustics. What’s not to like?
What about Johann Strauss stuff then?
That came a bit later. The first person to put New Year together with Johann Strauss was conductor Clemens Kraus. He loved the Blue Danube and all that and developed the idea of all-Strauss concerts. Until then the Strauss Family were regarded as just a bit to plebby – a bit like the LSO playing disco hits from the 70s.
Don’t mention the war!
With his apparently unimpeachable arian credentials, the Nazis decided that Johann Strauss was their poster boy. They put Clemens’s New Year’s Day concert on the radio and unwittingly set it on the road to the global phenomenon it is today. Only one tiny problemo – Johann turned out to have had a Jewish grandparent. According to the fascists’ doctrine, he was technically a Jew. Oops.
They have been at it ever since. It has only turned massive in the last 20 years or so: Blue Danube, Radetzky March. Trish Trash Polka – charming but all very trad. Time for something new, eh? Give him another 10 years and Rainer will have Japanese tourists queueing round the block just like in Vienna.
So how about London?
Rainer Hersch’s News Year’s Eve Bash at the Cadogan Hall is the one to see! Starting at 7pm on 31 December this is perfect New Year’s Eve family treat.
“You’ll never see another show quite like this” Edinburgh Evening News
As we race towards the end of the year and the New Year’s Eve Bash with the Rainer Hersch ‘Orkestra’ at the Cadogan Hall on 31 December, Rainer recollects what must be his strangest gig ever. We caught up with Rainer to find out about why he took a crash course in Spanish…
In 2014 I got an email from a guy in Mexico asking if I had ever performed in Spain – by which he actually meant, ‘had I ever done a gig in Spanish’? I said yes to the direct question because I had done a few shows for corporate clients in Spain – but in English -and carefully ignored the implied question about Spanish – because, somehow doing a concert in Mexico sounded interesting. In any case I thought to myself ‘Well, I speak English, German and French. Spaaanish – how hard can it be?’
Anyway, I didn’t hear any more about it until a couple of months later when I suddenly got a note that I had been booked to conduct a Mexican orchestra at a festival in San Pedro, near Monterrey in Mexico. More time passed and the details were so vague that I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen – life is different in Mexico. But then listings started to pop up on-line and I realised it was on.
I had to go to New Zealand for another festival and was left with a week between coming back and Mexico. In that week I had a three-hour Spanish lesson every day and we translated my set into simple Spanish sentences. Yes, simple but still Spanish and the completed translations occupied twelve sides of A4. Then I got the Spanish teacher to record each of the phrases slowly and I set off for Heathrow repeating them carefully to myself.
I had good fun rehearsing the orchestra – a lot of whom had studied in America so spoke English (well, you know: still confusing their fanny with their bottom and such) but they could translate for the others.
Then, at last, the evening of the performance arrived. I was so nervous, I smoked three cigarettes and I don’t smoke. But finally, there was no avoiding it and I was summarily pushed out to face this entirely Mexican audience of around 1,000 people. I took a deep breath and delivered my first line:
‘Soy mitad inglés, mitad alemán. No es una buena combinación. Por eso, mi gustaría mucho conquistar el mundo pero… soy muy educado’
I’m half German, half English which is not a good combination. It means I would like to take over the world but I am too polite….and they laughed. It was the weirdest thing. They, apparently, understood this code that I had been taught. Phew because, frankly, my Spanish teacher could have told me anything and I would have gone out there and repeated it. The rest of the concert went well and there was much talk of doing it all again somehow (at least I think that’s what they said).
Now, let’s get one thing straight: I didn’t learn Spanish in a week – I learned just enough to get by in a very restricted vocabulary. But Mrs Hersch (my wife) still hated me just the same and muttered darkly all the way on the flight home about me being some kind of freak. As for the Spanish, I liked the sound of it so much I carried on with my lessons. Get me out of the concert hall and I am pretty terrible but it’s coming along.
Hasta la próxima!
Enjoy a fabulous New Year’s Eve treat with The Rainer Hersch Orkestra and The New Year’s Eve Bash at London’s Cadogan Hall on 31 December – the perfect New Year’s Eve event for all the family.
Rainer Hersch launches his brand new ‘Orkestra’ with The New Year’s Eve Bash on Saturday 31 December at 7:00 pm at the magnificent Cadogan Hall.Musical humour is at the root of Rainer’s hilarious shows so let’s hear out about his five funniest musical moments…
1) Andre Previn on Morecambe and Wise
This gave birth to the phrase ‘all the right notes, not necessarily in the right order’, with the wonderful Mr ‘Preview’ conducting. This became the title of two series I did for BBC Radio 4 about musical comedy.
2) Jerry Springer: The Opera
Words by Stewart Lee and music by Richard Thomas – both great mates of mine. Well before this, Richard appeared in my BBC Radio 4 series ‘All Classical Music Explained’ as a nutty avant guard musician under the title ‘Mad Modern Music’. Jerry Springer: The Opera was obscene of course but hilarious. Not everybody got the joke – in fact, its BBC Two television broadcast elicited 55,000 complaints!
3) Anna Russell explaining the Ring Cycle by Wagner
I met her once in Toronto. in 1997 – she was living in a retirement complex she had somehow helped raise money to construct. In gratitude, they had named one of the avenues after her, which she then lived on, leading to misunderstandings whenever she was asked by officialdom to give her details: “Name please.” “Anna Russell.” “Address?” “Anna Russell”. They assumed she was simply some dotty old woman who couldn’t tell one thing from another.
4) Patrick McCarthy taking over at the Proms
Kind of funny and a bit weird at the same time: In the middle of a Proms performance of Carmina Burana, one of the soloist singers collapsed. A music student who was standing with the prommers and knew the part went round the back to offer his services. They found him a jacket and on he went. The rest is Proms history. I had Patrick as a guest in one of my radio shows. Very nice man but you’ve got to stay on your toes – give him half a chance and he’ll take over.
5) Victor Borge running around the piano with Lee Hambro
I have done this routine many times myself as part of Rainer Hersch’s Victor Borge. Lee Hambro actually came to see it one time and he and I became friends during the last few years of his life. He and is wife Barbara came round my house a few times and we played duets. Victor Borge I met briefly back stage at the concert hall in Stockholm – a meeting I act out in Rainer Hersch’s Victor Borge.
And what better opportunity to experience Rainer’s musical humour for yourself at Rainer Hersch’s New Year’s Eve Bash on Saturday 31 December at 7pm.
‘At last a musical comedian with a difference – he is really funny’ The Daily Telegraph
Rainer Hersch has often been compared with one of the greatest musical comedians of the 20th century – Victor Borge. A brilliant pianist, virtuoso comedian and, at one point, the highest paid entertainer in the world, we find out about the real Victor Borge and why his humour is so immortal.
Born Børge Rosenbaum in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1909, Victor Borge’s blend of music and comedy earned him the nicknames The Clown Prince of Denmark,The Unmelancholy Dane and The Great Dane
His father a violist in the Royal Danish Orchestra and his mother a pianist so his musicalupbringing was strictly classical. He quickly displaying prodigious talent and was awarded a full scholarship to the Royal Danish Academy of Music in 1918 giving his first major concert in 1926. A few years as a classical concert pianist, he started his now famous “stand up” act, with the signature blend of piano music and jokes and travelled extensively across Europe telling anti-Nazi jokes.
A Danish stamp featuring Victor Borge
During World War II, Borge was playing a concert in Sweden as the Nazis invaded Denmark. Borge managed to escape to Finland and travelled to America on the last neutral ship to make it out of the country arriving in the States with just $20. Borge returned to Denmark once during the occupation disguised as a sailor to visit his dying mother.
Borge did not speak a word of English when he landed, yet he quickly managed to adapt his jokes to the American audience, learning English by watching movies. He took the name of Victor Borge, and in 1941, he started on radio before being hired soon after by Bing Crosby.
Borge quickly rose to fame, winning Best New Radio Performer of the Year in 1942 followed by being offered film roles with stars such as Frank Sinatra. In 1946 he began hosting his famous Victor Borge Show which made his mark on NBC.
Victor Borge at NBC
In 1948 Borge became a naturalized citizen of the United States and not long after started his Comedy in Music show in New York which was to become the longest running one-man show in the history of theatre with 849 performances placing it in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Borge even appeared several times on Sesame Street and was a guest star on The Muppet Show. Victor Borge continued to tour until his last days, performing up to 60 times per year when he was 90 years old.
Victor Borge and The Muppet Show
One of the world’s most loved and admired performers and entertainers,Borge died in Greenwich, Connecticut, at the age of 91, after more than 75 years of entertaining.
Victor Borge’s inimitable style, based on trademark physical and visual elements was always a winner with audiences of all ages from the musically uninitiated to the most learned. His musical gags always brought the house down and his breadth of musical knowledge and skill enabled him to string a musical gag seemingly forever whilst always keeping this audience eating out of the palm of his hand. All these elements live on today in the madcap musical world of Rainer Hersch.
https://i0.wp.com/www.rainerhersch.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2016/09/Victor-Borge-Piano.jpg?fit=800%2C401401800adminhttp://revolutionarts.co.uk/rainerhersch/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2016/09/rainer.pngadmin2016-09-30 16:04:362016-09-30 16:12:51The real Victor Borge
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