Roll over Beethoven: Classical music statistics by Bachtrack

Roll over Beethoven: The Bachtrack classical music statistics are out

 
 

There are no prizes for coming second. Sorry, Beethoven, but the top spot for the composer with the most performances in 2017 has returned to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, while Hallelujah choruses will be sung around the world to celebrate that Handel’s Messiah reclaimed its position as the top performed work. The Bachtrack database listed a similar number of events to the previous year, around 32,000.

 

You will find the whole infographic here.

When you look at the “top six concert composers” graph above, you will see that J S Bach has been narrowing the gap between himself and the two most performed composers, Mozart and Beethoven, and it will be fascinating to see if he can take over from the two giants in years to come. On the same chart, you will see that Brahms and Schubert seem to have fallen in the numbers of their works performed and are now very much also-rans in this race. Below these six, anything can happen.

The group is bunched up with between 700 – 1,130 performances, so anyone can grab a higher position in a good year, and of course Debussy is coming up to the centenary of his death in 2018 and is already lying at no. 12… Outsider Leonard Bernstein has already moved up in ranking from no. 43 to 27 in 2017 and his centenary this year should provide further growth, but it’s hard to see him getting as far as the top 20.

This year, we decided to measure how patriotic each country is based on the correlation between the amount of a country’s music played outside that country and the amount of the same music played inside the country. As an example, 6% of music by composers born in Britain is played worldwide versus 13% in Britain, and this percentage is approximately the same for nearly all the countries we looked at. The exceptions were Germany (where playing double the norm would take the German element up to 40%) and the Spanish, who play 10.4% of Spanish composed music in their country against an average of 1.2% outside! We looked at only those countries where we have sufficient concerts in the database to ensure our results would be accurate.

The fascinating study within this is that we then looked at what period of music each country played (leaving out the USA with very little music of its own before the 20th century). You can see enormous differences between Austria and the rest of the world in this graph above with the former far more interested in their classical repertoire than what’s being composed today.In 2013 we told the world that there was just one woman in the busiest one hundred concert conductors worldwide. Four years later there are a total of five. It is the coming 5-10 years which should show a large increase and we’ll be watching. The most notable newcomer is Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra since 2016 and 2012 winner of the Salzburg young conductor’s award.

Looking at the top 10 busiest conductors (all men) they range in age from 36, with the entry of Jakub Hrůša, now not only chief conductor of Bamberg Symphony, but also as principal guest conductor of both Philharmonia Orchestra and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and most recently Permanent Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. It really isn’t surprising that he has clocked in 63 concert performances and another 18 in opera. The oldest man on the podium is Herbert Blomstedt, who has appeared on our busiest conductor list for every year of the past 10 and is now a venerable 90 years old. Surely we should raise a glass to him in celebration.

Herbert Blomstedt © Martin U.K. Lengemann

Herbert Blomstedt
© Martin U.K. Lengemann
 

We always keep an eye on contemporary performance, where the composer with the most performed works has been Arvo Pärt since 2011. This year will be the seventh he has held the title but it now seems that things are shifting and his lead is less secure than in the past with John Williams and John Adams now within reach.

It is always fascinating to look at the most performed works in the core repertoire in our statistics and this year there are signs that some Romantic music might be fading in importance to be replaced, primarily, with some of the music of the early- to mid-20th century. Who knows, maybe the audience has always preferred music composed a century ago? Worldwide statistics on this scale just weren’t around to check that out.

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