For the third year, here are our league tables for operas and concerts in our database. (You can see our 2011 tables here and 2010 here.) With three years of data in the table, this is giving an ever improving view of what’s a constant and what changes each year.

Valery Gergiev © Joachim Ladefoged
Valery Gergiev
© Joachim Ladefoged

While much is consistent with previous years, there’s plenty to note: the “anniversary effect” has made its mark in programming, and there’s good news for Elgar enthusiasts and bad news for Bizet fans. And is Gergiev really the busiest man in the world? He may have some new competition... The usual caveats for statisticians: clearly, our database only includes a proportion of the concerts performed across the globe. It’s a large sample, although not a random one: it’s skewed towards the events put on by the largest organisations and those who have chosen, for whatever the reason, to work with us. It’s hard to say how those biases might play out: they make these stats fairly useless for serious research, but they don’t stop them being fun to read (we think). Anyway, here are the sample sizes this year: Concerts: 12,597 Opera performances: 4,451


Busiest orchestras

It’s US orchestras which continue to be the busiest, with 7 entries of our top 10, despite our listing far more in Europe than the US. Our busiest orchestra this year is the New York Philharmonic, who have overtaken San Francisco Symphony. The Philharmonia Orchestra have snuck into the top 10 for the first time this year, overtaking Bournemouth Symphony (number 12) as the UK’s busiest. Our busiest continental orchestra remains the Berlin Phil, steady at number 4. Do remember that these statistics are based solely on listed concert performances; they don’t include opera or ballet. The same applies to the conductor stats which follow.

2012 2011 2010
1 New York Philharmonic 144 San Francisco Symphony 157 San Francisco Symphony 144
2 San Francisco Symphony 139 Chicago Symphony 133 Chicago Symphony 137
3 Boston Symphony 115 Boston Symphony 131 New York Philharmonic 127
4 Berliner Philharmoniker 111 Berliner Philharmoniker 131 O S di Milano Giuseppe Verdi 121
5 Chicago Symphony 107 Los Angeles Philharmonic 124 Berliner Philharmoniker 114
6 San Diego Symphony 105 New York Philharmonic 119 Los Angeles Philharmonic 118
7 O A N di Santa Cecilia 99 Concertgebouw 112 Concertgebouw 117
8 Los Angeles Philharmonic 96 Philadelphia Orchestra 111 Vienna Philharmonic 111
9 Philadelphia Orchestra 92 Cleveland Orchestra 104 Bournemouth Symphony 107
10 Philharmonia Orchestra 91 Bournemouth Symphony 95 Philadelphia Orchestra 99


Busiest concert conductors

Alan Gilbert © Chris Lee
Alan Gilbert
© Chris Lee
Last year it was the Dude, but this year our busiest concert-hall conductor is Alan Gilbert – perhaps unsurprising, as he’s music director of the busiest orchestra. More remarkable is the rise of 85-year-old Herbert Blomstedt up the list, from 35 in 2011 to 3 last year. Fellow octogenarian Bernard Haitink remains at 10, and an additional surge from Daniel Barenboim has meant that the average age of the top 10 has shot up from 54 to 63. “World’s busiest man” Valery Gergiev appears to have spent too much of 2012 being busy in recording studios and opera houses to have made it further up our list than number 7. We concede, though, that he is indeed very busy. Has he been as busy as Barenboim, though? In addition to his 56 listed appearances conducting concerts, we also have him down as having conducted 49 opera performances. What’s more, we also list 15 performances with him at the piano – that’s a grand total of 120 performances for the year, or one every 3.05 days. Andris Nelsons may have hit the news several times this year for cancelling performances, but he still made it as high as number 11, with 48 listed appearances.

2012 2011 2010
1 Alan Gilbert (age 45) 80 Gustavo Dudamel (30) 82 Valery Gergiev (57) 88
2 Michael Tilson Thomas (68) 65 Iván Fischer (60) 74 Michael Tilson Thomas (66) 87
3 Herbert Blomstedt (85) 62 Sir Simon Rattle (56) 70 Mariss Jansons (67) 79
4 Sir Simon Rattle (57) 62 Paavo Järvi (49) 69 Iván Fischer (59) 68
5 Charles Dutoit (76) 60 Charles Dutoit (75) 68 Herbert Blomstedt (83) 67
6 Daniel Barenboim (70) 56 Michael Tilson Thomas (67) 65 Charles Dutoit (74) 60
7 Valery Gergiev (59) 55 Richard Tognetti (46) 64 Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (77) 58
8 Gustavo Dudamel (31) 55 Alan Gilbert (44) 55 Paavo Järvi (48) 56
9 Esa-Pekka Salonen (54) 54 Andris Nelsons (33) 55 Gustavo Dudamel (29) 56
10 Bernard Haitink (83) 52 Bernard Haitink (82) 55 Sir Simon Rattle (55) 56


Composers with most concerts

This table contains the composers who featured in the greatest number of concerts during the year: a composer gets an entry if at least one work was performed in a given concert. Some things don’t change: Beethoven is snugly ensconced at the top of this list for the third year running, with Mozart steady at number 2. Birthday boy Claude Debussy is the most notable new entry to the top 10, up to number 9 and with a 50% rise in concerts. 2011’s anniversary composers, on the other hand, suffer sharp falls: Liszt drops from number 6 to number 24, and Mahler from 9 to 25 – that’s a 56% decrease in concerts featuring Mahler, and 59% for Liszt. These figures don’t vary too much between Europe and North America, but it’s intriguing that Stravinsky is a lot better represented in the US and Canada – he’s as high as number 9 for North America, though at 20 worldwide. Schubert, on the other hand, is less of a draw in North America than elsewhere, down at number 12.

Arvo Pärt in Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin
Arvo Pärt in Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin
Arvo Pärt is the highest-placed living composer on the list for the second year running, coming in at number 54. Behind him are Eric Whitacre (78) and John Adams (89). Thomas Adès, who was number 100 last year, doesn’t quite make it this time round – he’s at 104, tied with Tippett and Lassus. It should be noted that our listings are far stronger on orchestral than chamber concerts, which may go some way to accounting for this poor showing for contemporary music. John Cage, in his centenary year, saw a 209% rise in concert performances, but still came in as low as number 72 (where he tied with Webern). The year also saw healthy rises for Schoenberg (31%), Messiaen (46%) and Berg (51%). A prominent year for British patriotism (more on this later) may have played its part in seeing Elgar performances rise internationally: they’re up overall by 20%, and European performances outside the UK have virtually doubled. Sadly, there isn’t a single female composer in our top 100 this year. We’re hoping to see more in 2013.

2012 2011 2010
1 Beethoven 1,510 Beethoven 1,566 Beethoven 1,576
2 Mozart 1,416 Mozart 1,403 Mozart 1,260
3 Bach 1,103 Bach 1,063 Schumann 953
4 Brahms 1,030 Brahms 983 Bach 902
5 Schubert 774 Schubert 759 Brahms 879
6 Tchaikovsky 660 Liszt 700 Haydn 648
7 Handel 652 Tchaikovsky 665 Schubert 645
8 Haydn 632 Haydn 639 Tchaikovsky 607
9 Debussy 615 Mahler 623 Chopin 569
10 Schumann 545 Handel 608 Mahler 562


Most performed works

Major caveat here: the fantastic work of the Bruckner Journal means that our listings for Bruckner are noticeably more thorough than our listings for everyone else. We do not believe that 4 of the 10 most performed classical works of 2012 were Bruckner symphonies. Here, therefore, is our top 20 rather than just our top 10. Factoring out the Bruckner effect, and also the Messiah (which always comes top), our most performed work is Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, which has enjoyed 87 performances with 41 different conductors and 38 orchestras. A steep riser is Brahms’ Second Symphony, which has shot up to number 7 with a 36% increase (and 81 performances, 41 conductors and 39 orchestras). Remarkably, Beethoven’s Ninth has risen by 42%, up to number 10 (71 performances, 31 conductors and 30 orchestras). Joint winners of the most-played concerto award are Schumann’s Piano Concerto and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, which tie at number 12 with 65 performances each. They’re hardly obscure choices, but both are up considerably from last year, when the Mendelssohn was down at number 29 and the Schumann at 77. UK concert programming seems to have been affected by the year’s nationalistic flavour: Elgar’s Serenade for Strings, Parry’s anthem I was glad and Walton’s Crown Imperial all enter the UK-only top 10 for the first time. Oddly, within the UK, Beethoven’s Seventh comes in at number 57, with the Eroica comfortably the most programmed Beethoven symphony. The North American list, meanwhile, has Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique behind the Messiah at number 2, and a surprisingly high Rite of Spring entry at 14 – worldwide, it’s only at number 60. With its centenary happening this year, we should be seeing an even higher position for this work come next January.

2012 2011
1 Messiah (Handel) 124 Messiah (Handel) 121
2 Symphony no. 4 (Bruckner) 102 Symphony no. 4 (Bruckner) 88
3 Symphony no. 7 (Beethoven) 87 Symphony no. 7 (Beethoven) 88
4 Symphony no. 9 (Bruckner) 82 Piano Concerto no. 1 (Liszt) 87
5 Symphony no. 3 "Eroica" (Beethoven) 81 Symphony no. 5 (Beethoven) 85
6 Symphony no. 8 (Bruckner) 81 Symphony no. 3 "Eroica" (Beethoven) 80
7 Symphony no. 2 (Brahms) 81 Symphony no. 7 (Bruckner) 79
8 Symphony no. 7 (Bruckner) 77 Violin Concerto (Tchaikovsky) 77
9 Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (Handel) 76 Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky) 75
10 Symphony no. 9 "Choral" (Beethoven) 71 Symphony no. 1 (Brahms) 70
11 Symphony no. 5 (Tchaikovsky) 67 Symphony no. 5 (Tchaikovsky) 69
12 Violin Concerto (Mendelssohn) 65 Requiem (Mozart) 68
13 Piano Concerto (Schumann) 65 Symphony no. 6 "Pathétique" (Tchaikovsky) 68
14 Symphony no. 1 (Brahms) 65 Symphony no. 9 "From the New World" (Dvořák) 66
15 Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Debussy) 64 Symphony no. 8 (Bruckner) 63
16 Symphony no. 9 "From the New World" (Dvořák) 64 Symphony no. 9 (Mahler) 63
17 Serenade for Strings (Elgar) 63 Piano Concerto no. 5 "Emperor" (Beethoven) 63
18 Violin Concerto (Beethoven) 62 Violin Concerto (Beethoven) 63
19 La mer (Debussy) 61 Symphony no. 1 "Titan" (Mahler) 63
20 Violin Concerto (Tchaikovsky) 61 Piano Concerto no. 3 (Beethoven) 63


Most performed operas

Are we getting bored of Carmen? According to our opera stats, it was the most performed opera of 2011, but it fell to number 11 in 2012 (despite high-profile productions in London and Paris). The Magic Flute has taken its place, in an exceptional year for Mozart, who takes all of the top 3 positions and sees Così fan tutte climb to number 10 as well. Our most performed Wagner opera of 2012 was The Flying Dutchman, all the way down at 20 – but with his anniversary in 2013 (not to mention Verdi’s) it will be interesting to check back at this list in a year’s time.

2012 2011 2010
1 Die Zauberflöte (Mozart) 202 Carmen (Bizet) 188 La Bohème (Puccini) 243
2 Don Giovanni (Mozart) 167 Don Giovanni (Mozart) 179 Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart) 238
3 Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart) 165 La Bohème (Puccini) 164 Carmen (Bizet) 212
4 La Bohème (Puccini) 155 Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini) 152 Tosca (Puccini) 211
5 Tosca (Puccini) 135 Die Zauberflöte (Mozart) 133 La Traviata (Verdi) 200
6 Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini) 124 La Traviata (Verdi) 126 Don Giovanni (Mozart) 156
7 La Traviata (Verdi) 115 Madama Butterfly (Puccini) 124 Die Zauberflöte (Mozart) 137
8 Madama Butterfly (Puccini) 96 Tosca (Puccini) 123 Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini) 124
9 Rigoletto (Verdi) 90 Rigoletto (Verdi) 102 Madama Butterfly (Puccini) 112
10 Così fan tutte (Mozart) 84 Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart) 96 Rigoletto (Verdi) 102

So that’s it for another year’s stats. As usual, if anyone has any comments or questions about different data, let us know, either by commenting here (if you want to be public) or using the contact form (if you want to be private). The Bachtrack team 4th January 2013