Each January, Bachtrack publishes statistics for its listings for the year just ended. In 2014, we listed over 25,000 events cementing our position as the No.1 site for classical events. This enables us to see trends in concert halls worldwide. Who are the most performed composers? The busiest orchestras? The most popular operas?
Conductors are getting younger
American orchestras lead the way with six places in the top ten. In some respects, this represents the way many orchestras in the United States perform, often presenting the same programme three times at the end of a week, whereas this is a rarer practice in Europe.
Composers are getting younger too…
… or, at least, orchestras are programming more music from the late 19th/ early 20th centuries. 2014 saw a rise into the top 10 most performed composers for Ravel and Dvořák, with Rachmaninov not far behind at No.14, up 8 places on 2013. For the first time, Haydn has fallen out of the top 10 composers. Perhaps this reflects the reluctance of modern symphony orchestras to perform classical-era works, which are being increasingly performed by period instrument ensembles instead? For example, at the 2014 BBC Proms, not a note of Haydn was performed.
Most performed works
In the concert hall, Handel’s Messiah still reigns supreme – boosted by Christmas and Easter scheduling – while Beethoven has five works in the top ten! Just outside, Rachmaninov rises up the ranks, his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini surging up from No.172 to No.16. Among the fallers is Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, not surprisingly given that many orchestras programmed it in 2013 for the centenary of its riotous première.
Where are the women?
In terms of the classical gender gap, the bright news for 2014 came not from the stats, but from the appointment of Judith Weir as Master of the Queen’s Music, confirmed in July. In the list of top conductors, only 5 feature in the top 150. Composer-wise, you have to delve to #260 to reach the fifth female composer (Sally Beamish). At English National Opera, two female conductors made a strong impression: Joana Carneiro (The Gospel According to the Other Mary) and Keri-Lynn Wilson (The Girl of the Golden West). Perhaps the operatic front looks brighter…
The Anniversary Effect
It was a good year for Richard Strauss, in the 150th anniversary of his birth. The top five concert works contain no surprise entries, with Don Juan giving the chance for orchestras to flex their muscles in a virtuoso showpiece, while the Four Last Songs are beloved of sopranos (and audiences).
The big disappointment regarding Strauss is that the major – or even the minor – companies didn’t take the opportunity afforded by an anniversary to explore the lesser known operas. Munich and Vienna saw performances of Die Schweigsame Frau and Feuersnot respectively, but Intermezzo, Die ägyptische Helena and Die Liebe der Danae failed to register on the Bachtrack radar. At least Garsington Opera in the UK is offering Intermezzo next summer…
In the Opera House…
Italian Opera rules! Of the top ten operas performed in 2014, 8 are (usually) sung in Italian, with Carmen and Die Zauberflöte the only non-Italian works represented. This is reflected in our Opera Composer statistics, which sees Giuseppe Verdi storming home with 737 performances, closely followed by Puccini. Interestingly, Benjamin Britten – another 2013 anniversary composer – maintained a strong operatic presence, with 109 performances, 68 of which were outside the UK. Just outside the top ten (at #11) came Gluck – a 2014 anniversary composer.
The Vienna State Opera narrowly pipped The Metropolitan Opera as the world’s busiest opera house.
This year, we look forward to the 150th anniversaries of Sibelius and Nielsen, with many orchestras planning retrospectives of their works, although whether either composer will make it into the top 10 remains to be seen. You will just have to check our site this time next year to find out.
Still have an appetite for more 2014 statistics? Check them out here...
All of these statistics are based exclusively on performances listed on Bachtrack. We’re the largest classical events finder online, though our listings are not comprehensive.
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