A Tchaikovsky cycle, the Stranglers with Laura Marling, and a focus on Granville Bantock: it’s not just Britten and Verdi at the BBC Proms this year, despite these two composers’ anniversaries. There is, however, a hefty amount of Richard Wagner in his bicentennial year, with seven of his operas – that’s over half of them – receiving full performances. But this is just part of an intriguing programme of events for the summer which packs plenty of surprises into its fairly conventional form. You can see all our listings for the Proms here, or read on for our personal picks.

Britten and the British

I’ll get on to the Wagner in due course, because there’s plenty of concert music to highlight as well. First off, naturally, is Benjamin Britten in his centenary year. The schedule is not quite as Britten-rich as some may have anticipated, but he remains this year’s most featured composer, with his works appearing in twelve concerts. He’s dominating the chamber music at Cadogan Hall, with performances including canticles and miniatures with Imogen Cooper and others, Phaedra with Britten Sinfonia and Sarah Connolly, and various works for string orchestra played by Camerata Nordica. Les illuminations with the LSO and Ian Bostridge, in a concert originally allocated to the late Sir Colin Davis, is perhaps the pick of Britten’s orchestral appearances.

Britten’s contemporary Michael Tippett does pretty well too, on the other hand: his Second Symphony features in a typically inventive programme from Oliver Knussen with the BBC SO (pianist Peter Serkin will play two contrasting Stravinsky works on the same bill), and there is in fact a strong focus on British music all round. If you aren’t yet familiar with the work of Granville Bantock, you may well be by the end of the summer, and William Walton also has six Proms to his name this year (as many as Stravinsky, and more than Bach). There is even music from the little-known composer George Lloyd, also in his centenary year, including a London première of his final work, a requiem. Add to this premières from both David and Colin Matthews, and there is a distinctly British feel to the schedule as a whole.

More concert highlights

Another emphasis this year is on Polish music, neatly timed to coincide with the centenary of Witold Lutosławski’s birth – numerous substantial orchestral works by this composer are featured. But there’s more to Polish music than Lutosławski (and indeed Chopin, who doesn’t feature in a single Prom), and this summer the Huelgas Ensemble will take us through Polish choral music of the 15th and 16th centuries. The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra are also slated for a Proms debut in works by Lutosławski, fellow Pole Andrzej Panufnik, and Shostakovich. The season’s other focus, it seems, is on Tchaikovsky: all of his symphonies are being performed, by various orchestras.

Other Proms of particular note include the obligatory Rite of Spring performance in the piece’s 100th year, which will be given by Orchestre Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth on period instruments in a programme also including French works from the 17th and 19th centuries. The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and Jonathan Nott are joined by the Arditti Quartet for Helmut Lachenmann’s Tanzsuite mit Deutschland, and then play Mahler 5. The newly founded National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America perform with Joshua Bell and Valery Gergiev. Thomas Adès conducts the BBC SO in a new work entitled Totentanz, in memory of Lutosławski. Aurora Orchestra, brilliantly, pit Frank Zappa against Conlon Nancarrow and Philip Glass. And Nigel Kennedy plays The Four Seasons.

Opera: Wagner and beyond

It’s the Wagner which remains the biggest draw, though, and Daniel Barenboim’s Ring cycle is still the pick, even though it’s been known about since 2011. The orchestra is Barenboim’s Staatskapelle Berlin, and the cast is taken from Barenboim’s Berlin and Milan Ring cycles, with stars including Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde. Three incarnations of Wotan will be Iain Paterson, Bryn Terfel and Terje Stensvold. The Ring is being interrupted by Semyon Bychkov conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and BBC Singers in Tristan and Isolde, and later on there is also a Tannhäuser from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Donald Runnicles, and a Parsifal from the Hallé and Sir Mark Elder.

Outside of Wagner, two further opera Proms celebrate British composers: Glyndebourne’s Billy Budd makes an appearance, and so does The Midsummer Marriage by Tippett (again with BBC forces), both conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. The Royal Opera and English National Opera both miss out this year (though the former’s chorus join the Berliners for Barenboim’s Götterdämmerung). The other absentee is the 200-year-old Giuseppe Verdi, featuring in just four Proms and no complete operas, though two Italian orchestras and Joseph Calleja should at least do justice to him when he does appear.

What’s more, Wagner may even find himself trumped by that latter-day opera cyclist Karlheinz Stockhausen: Ex Cathedra will perform part of his enormous Mittwoch aus Licht, premièred last year by Birmingham Opera Company (our review here), in a concert also featuring his classic early electronic work Gesang der Jünglinge.

And finally...

Notable names not yet mentioned include the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with Lorin Maazel in Bach and Bruckner; the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Sir Antonio Pappano (joined by 18-year-old pianist Jan Lisiecki for the Schumann concerto); and a brace from the Oslo Philharmonic and Vasily Petrenko. Most major British orchestras appear, the stalwart BBC SO in eleven, and BBC National Orchestra of Wales in an impressive six. Oh, and punk band the Stranglers are dropping in to the 6 Music Prom along with Laura Marling, Cerys Matthews and the London Sinfonietta. If pop appeals, you can also catch Laura Mvula with the BBC SO in the Urban Classic Prom. And if you’re after a family event, the Dr Who Prom is happening twice, including on a Sunday morning. The Last Night is being conducted by Marin Alsop (the first woman ever to take charge), and also features Joyce DiDonato and Nigel Kennedy, following a new piece by Anna Clyne.

There’s plenty to get excited about, then, in the 2013 BBC Proms schedule. While Wagner fans and British nationalists may be particularly enthusiastic about it, there is heaps of variety within these 88 events, and something is bound to appeal to everyone. So get browsing – and, if you’re after a Ring cycle ticket, check everything out now so you’re ready for online booking when it opens on 11 May at 9am!

See our complete BBC Proms 2013 listings here.