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Vienna New Year's concert rings in 2013 with Wagner, Verdi

Wagner, Verdi and a myriad of waltzes will broadcast live to 81 countries when the Vienna Philharmonic kicks off 2013 with its traditional New Year's Concert on January 1.

The event -- sold out over a year in advance and followed by millions around the world -- will once again be conducted by Franz Welser-Moest, musical director at the Vienna Opera, after his first appearance in 2011.

Together with the orchestra, Welser-Moest has devised a programme full of novelties: 11 of the 16 pieces performed at the Musikverein's grand Golden Hall on Tuesday will be playing at the New Year's Concert for the first time.

Among them are tributes to German composer Richard Wagner and Italian Giuseppe Verdi, both of whom will be celebrated on their 200th birthday next year.

Wagner's dramatic Prelude to Act Three of "Lohengrin" and ballet music from Verdi's opera "Don Carlo" will however alternate with the Strauss dynasty polkas and waltzes that are most associated with this classical event.

"It should be a voyage of discovery," Welser-Moest told AFP ahead of the concert, describing it as "a very subtle programme," with a heavy accent on the less frequently played Josef Strauss.

A tradition going back to 1939, the concert draws crowds of tourists every year, clapping gaily in time with the "Radetzky March" -- a beloved and unavoidable encore, alongside the melancholic "Blue Danube Waltz."

The New Year's Concert -- a recording hit with CDs and DVDs always released within weeks -- will be broadcast live on television and radio in 81 countries this year, more than ever before, according to official broadcaster ORF.

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