The Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2017 airs on Friday, August 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS

Led for the second time by German pianist and conductor Christoph Eschenbach, the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic returns for its 14th open-air concert, with a program inspired by fairy tales and myths, in Austria’s Imperial Schönbrunn Palace Gardens.  The Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert 2017 airs on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances, Friday, August 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.)

Fairy tales, myths, legends and sagas are closely entwined with many composers and compositions. They have served as inspiration, models and sources for many musical works, several of which have been selected for this concert. Some are new and some are old; some are German, Bohemian, and Russian; some are based on literary models and one is a composer’s opinion about a myth.

The concert soloist is renowned soprano Renée Fleming who performs two arias from operas by Antonin Dvořák: the famous ‘Song to the Moon’ of the water nymph Rusalka and the aria of the sorceress Armida from the operas of those names, as well as three songs by Sergei Rachmaninoff: “Twilight,” “Sing not to me, beautiful maiden” and “Spring Waters.”

Eschenbach, who conducted the Summer Night Concert in 2014, is the longtime collaborator of artists such as Lang Lang, Julia Fischer and, indeed, Renée Fleming, and has been closely connected to the Vienna Philharmonic for many years.

Schönbrunn Palace was never, of course, an actual fairy tale location, but rather the summer residence of the Hapsburg Emperors, and also between 1805 and 1809, the residence of the French Emperor Napoleon. Nevertheless, for many visitors, the palace and its surrounding park have always represented a supposed fairytale world, a modern–day legend with a worldwide presence.

This free outdoor concert, recorded in May, allows the distinguished orchestra to make classical music accessible to establish a following beyond its usual core audience. The annual event is produced by the ORF, and transmitted live or delayed in more than 80 countries worldwide.  For the first time, the stage is positioned in front of the Schönbrunn Palace, which will serve as a magnificent backdrop to the concert.

The full musical program is as follows:

Carnival Overture

Zha Stihlou Gazelou (At dawn, as I merrily pursued a slender gazelle) from “Armida”

“Rusalka” Song to the Moon

Rose Adagio, “Pas d’action” from “The Sleeping Beauty”

Rachmaninoff songs (with Renée Fleming)
Sing not to me, beautiful maiden
Spring waters

Prelude to “Hansel and Gretel”

John Williams
Hedwig’s Theme from “Harry Potter

Devil’s Dance, Berceuse + Finale from “The Firebird”


Wiener Blut (Viennese Spirit)

The 2017 Summer Night Concert will be released on CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital platforms by Sony Classical on August 11.