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Top Tunes for Seeing In the New Year

A New Year Concert
A New Year Concert

Coming after the musical richness of Christmas, New Year may seem like the tuneless poor relation. New Year, however, has plenty of tunes of its own. We’ve collected together our favourites so you can see in the New Year in musical style!

Auld Lang Syne

Of course no New Year’s Eve would be complete without this famous Scottish song. The text was written by Robert Burns in 1788. Roughly translating as ‘Days Gone By’ the lyrics are a wistful looking backwards as one also looks towards the New Year. The song is traditionally sung holding hands at the height of a New Year celebration, often as the clock strikes 12. Initially performed only in Scotland, it subsequently spread to the rest of the United Kingdom and to the rest of the world, becoming the global anthem of New Year.

Nos Galan (Deck the Halls)

Believe it or not, the Christmas favourite Deck the Halls is a great choice for New Year too. The piece originates from Wales, where it had the title Nos Galan (‘New Year’s Eve’) and a different set of lyrics:

If you’re playing just the melody, however, it’s okay to use one of our many arrangements of Deck the Halls. Just explain that you’re playing ‘Nos Galan’ not ‘Deck the Halls’!

Xinnian hao ya (Oh My Darling Clementine)

Though Chinese New Year does not traditionally fall on 1st January, the Western festival is celebrated in the country, with the first day of the New Year being a public holiday. A very popular New Year song is Xinnian hao ya, the lyrics of which translate as:

Happy new year! Happy new year!
Congratulations everyone happy new year!
We sing, we dance,
Congratulations everyone happy new year!

Like ‘Nos Galan’ the song shares a different famous melody, the U.S. traditional song Oh My Darling Clementine.

Oh, Vienna....

The famous New Year’s Day concert from Vienna is an absolute must for fans of classical music. It centres on the beloved waltzes, polkas, marches and other works by members of the Strauss family. Most of these you can find in versions here on 8notes. Here are a few of the best:

Blue Danube Waltz

Probably the most familiar waltz of all. Written by Johann Strauss II in 1866 it celebrates the beautiful colours the river Danube, which runs through Vienna. It is a work of immense grace, but also of a liveliness that makes it perfect for celebrations.

Tritsch-Tratsch Polka

Tritsch-Tratsch is Johann Strauss II’s celebration of the Viennese love of gossip— Tritsch-Tratsch mean ‘chit chat.’ Written in 1858 and first performed in Vienna, it is an energetic and jaunty piece, reflecting the animated and lively conversations that might take place in social circles of the time.

Radetzky March

The Radetzky March was written by the Johann Strauss I (father of Johann Strauss II) in 1848 to mark the victory of Field Marshall Radetzky at the Battle of Custoza. A more celebratory than martial work it is traditionally used as an encore to round off the New Year’s Day concert.

Orchestral Fireworks

If you are looking for something to go with fireworks, look no further than George Frederick Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’, written in 1749 to celebrate the War of the Austrian Succession and the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. The suite consists of a number of movements with contrasting moods, the liveliest of which, such as the Menuet or La Rejouissance (‘The Rejoicing’) are perfect for celebrating.

And, of course, a piece associated not just with fireworks, but with actual cannon fire, is Tchaikovsky’s remarkable 1812 overture. Written to commemorate the defence against Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, it ends in a blaze of triumphant, joyous sound, that will certainly help you see in the New Year in style.

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