For the fourth year running at Bachtrack, we’ve taken a look through our extensive database of classical music, opera and dance events worldwide, and drawn together a few of the most interesting statistics to emerge from them all.
As the largest classical events finder online, we’re in a unique position to compile these stats – but please remember that it’s by no means comprehensive. All the statistics are based only on those events added to the Bachtrack database – event input is mainly done by event promoters, or by us on their behalf, and we know that there’s a lot that we don’t list. So while we hope you enjoy looking through this, we urge you to bear this in mind – we can only work from the information we’ve got.
Britten conquers Britain
Our list of the most performed composers in concerts usually changes very little year on year – but this year there is one big change. Benjamin Britten, whose hundredth anniversary fell in 2013, rose 18 places up the list to number 4. This puts him above composers such as Schubert and Brahms. In his home country, the news is even more remarkable: Britten was Bachtrack’s most performed composer in the UK in 2013, with 1,175 concert events. This is due in large part to the extraordinary and well-organised support of the Britten–Pears Foundation, whose hard work behind the scenes means that they surely deserve the success they achieved last year.
Where are the women?
Even worse, not a single one of our 100 most performed composers of concert works was female – as was also the case last year. Clara Schumann topped this list, at number 182. Of contemporary female composers, Judith Bingham was top at 202, followed by Unsuk Chin and Kaija Saariaho.
Busiest conductors and performers
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the conductor with the most events listed on Bachtrack in 2013 was Valery Gergiev, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, director of the Mariinsky Theatre, and all-round busy person. We listed 99 performances from him last year – more than for any other conductor – and that’s without us having complete listings for his Mariinsky appearances. Andris Nelsons came an impressive second with 96 events – and he looks set to get even busier. He has 35 events listed so far for the year ahead, compared to just 17 for Gergiev.
We’ve calculated the conductor statistics a little differently from in previous years: we’re now including events across all categories – concerts, opera and dance – rather than just concerts. So Gergiev’s frequent visits to opera house pits around the world explain his rise from last year (when he came 7th). The busiest concert conductor is the same as last year: Alan Gilbert clocked up 79 concerts, mostly with his New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Marco Armiliato topped the opera list with 69 performances, and our busiest conductor of dance events was Stuttgart Ballet’s James Tuggle, with 58.
Tied in first place as our busiest violinist were Joshua Bell and Christian Tetzlaff, with 39 events each. Yefim Bronfman was the busiest pianist, based on our listings, with 55 performances.
Busiest concert orchestras
2013’s busiest concert orchestra on Bachtrack was San Francisco Symphony, with 146 listed events. It’s the third year (out of four) that they’ve been at the top of our list. Last year’s winners, the New York Philharmonic, drop to second – we had 141 events for them. Chicago Symphony Orchestra came third, with 128 events. Europe’s busiest was the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam with 110, followed by the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie with 102. The UK’s top two were Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (99) and the Philharmonia Orchestra (93).
These figures, unlike the ones for busiest conductor, are based on concert performances only, which explains the absence of opera orchestras from the top of the list and the comparatively low placement of a few concert orchestras who also devote time to opera: the London Philharmonic Orchestra, for instance, have a very busy summer schedule playing at Glyndebourne, but this hasn’t counted towards this list.
Most performed composers and works
For the first time in Bachtrack’s history, Mozart has overtaken Beethoven as the most performed composer in the concert hall: the elder figure has edged Beethoven out with 2,512 concerts ahead of 2,475. As in 2012, J.S. Bach is a respectable third with 2,441 concerts. As already mentioned, the big mover this year is centenarian Benjamin Britten, whom we have as the fourth most performed composer in concerts for 2013, with 1,617 concerts featuring his music – and in the UK, his home country, he was the most performed composer overall. By our listings, his most performed work internationally was the War Requiem.
Among contemporary composers, Arvo Pärt is our most performed composer for the third year running, finishing at 38 in the overall list (up from number 52 last year). James MacMillan is the second highest contemporary figure (and the highest in the UK), rising 53 places up the list to number 45. Film composer John Williams is third at number 77. There’s little change elsewhere in the most performed composers list, though Wagner and Verdi both rise (Wagner by 20 places to number 10; Verdi by 17 places to number 20), also thanks to their anniversaries.
As you’d expect, though, it’s in the opera houses where Wagner and Verdi have really been celebrated: they were the top two most performed opera composers. Verdi received significantly more performances according to our listings – 737 against 439 – and Mozart was next highest. Britten finished a respectable seventh.
The most performed opera was La Traviata, followed by Tosca and The Magic Flute. The Verdi anniversary was celebrated most of all with La Traviata, Falstaff (number 7) and Nabucco (number 10), while Wagner’s most performed was The Flying Dutchman (number 12), followed by the various constituents of the Ring cycle (numbers 17–20).
As for the most performed concert works – Handel’s Messiah always comes top in our list, and this year is no exception; we listed 126 performances of this beloved oratorio. Beyond this, the excellent and unusually diligent work of the Bruckner Society makes its mark on our list, as it has done in previous years: we have Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony as the second most performed concert work, with several more of his symphonies highly placed as well. A new entrant to the top 10 is Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, whose hundredth anniversary was celebrated with 105 performances listed on Bachtrack, making it the fourth most performed concert piece (it was 60th last year).
It’s difficult to predict exactly what’s going to happen this year, especially as our database is getting bigger and bigger all the time (hopefully, this will make our stats better and better). But it is clear that anniversaries are the biggest factor affecting these statistics, so we will be watching listings for the 150-year-old Richard Strauss with interest. Currently, it’s looking possible but by no means certain that he’ll make it into the top 10 most performed – the effect is unlikely to be as pronounced as it was this year for Britten.
As for performers, we are sure a busy year is ahead for Andris Nelsons in particular, and Yefim Bronfman’s exceptionally full schedule looks set to continue. Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who holds positions in Philadelphia, Montreal and Rotterdam, is also in for a big year. And there is at least one more woman very likely to place higher in the conductors list next time around: JoAnn Falletta, music director of both the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra. She already has 21 concerts listed for 2014, which should put her on course for a high total by the end of the year.