The results are in: we are able to announce today the Bachtrack Annual Statistics for 2022, and there are some surprising findings.

As the largest classical music listings website, Bachtrack provides a valuable window into the classical music world – how it is changing year by year, and how it has responded to the enormous challenges thrown at it by Coronavirus. The statistics also show that the classical music world appears to be responding to pressure to improve gender parity and inclusion.

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Click here to view our full infographic

In 2022 we listed 27,124 distinct events. These comprise around 14,000 concerts, 9,000 opera performances, and almost four thousand dance performances. In 2019 we listed 34,648 events – and while the number of events this year is around 20% fewer, it indicates that the classical music world is gradually rebounding to pre-Covid levels of activity.

This amounts to hundreds of listings in many locations, allowing us to make statistically significant observations for the US, the UK and countries across Europe.

20th-century and Contemporary Music

One of the most significant findings from this year’s data is that 20th-century music is being performed with greater regularity, in most places across the world. Maurice Ravel and Richard Strauss both appear in the top ten most performed composers this year, climbing several places. Also faring well this year is Mahler, who has climbed six places, to just outside the top ten. (Mendelssohn and Haydn have both fallen a similar number of places.)

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Ravel’s work La Valse proved extremely popular in 2022, ranking first in most performed works. It has had an extraordinary rise – in 2019 it was at number 92! And while Ravel’s Bolero remains an orchestral staple, it is only at number 40 in most performed works. By contrast, the Piano Concerto in G major, also having a good year, ranks at number 12.

There are 19 post-1918 compositions in the top 100 most performed works, more than any other year. Other successful 20th-century composers this year include Shostakovich, who has five works in the top 100.

We are able to isolate trends in various countries. Some more conservative musical communities, such as Austria and Switzerland, are programming more 20th-century music – in percentage terms, more than France and Germany. (Japan has increased 20th-century programming too, but with relatively few concerts in Japan listed by Bachtrack, we have omitted them from our infographics.)

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Other countries remain largely static, such as France and Germany, who lag behind other countries in programming 20th-century music. The UK fares better, but it also lags behind the Netherlands and the US. (Hungary’s music programming seems to be heading in a conservative direction – perhaps unsurprising given its present political and cultural climate.)

The fact that France and Germany are programming less 20th-century music, and fewer living composers, is something audiences in those countries will need to consider. Bachtrack’s listings focus mainly on larger music organisations, and as such will not include smaller contemporary music concert series or festivals. What these findings indicate is that orchestras in some countries are more committed to including contemporary and 20th-century music in their regular programming, while others are not. It remains to be seen whether public pressure can lead to changes in programming, and greater gender parity of composers performed by German and French orchestras.

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These broad patterns affect the prospects of individual living composers too. In 2022, 106 living composers had more than eight performances listed by Bachtrack. Arvo Pärt tops the list, with 182 performances. But besides Pärt, the list is dominated by composers from the US and the UK, with 27 Americans and 24 Brits making the cut. In comparison, only eight French and five German living composers make the list.

Gender parity among living composers is also greatly improving – at least among Americans and Brits. Of the 24 British composers in the 106 most performed living composers, 12 are women. Of the 27 American composers on the list, ten are women. Women composers are also close to the top of the list in number of performances too – there are nine women in the top 20 most performed living composers. (In 2019, there was only one. This situation has changed much in recent years – in 2013, there were no women at all in the top 200 living composers.)

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Performers and Ensembles

The Bachtrack statistics also show that women conductors are faring much better in 2022 than in previous years. Of the top 100 busiest conductors, 12 are women (as against only one in 2013).

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Generally it appears that conductors are working about as much as they had been in 2019. The busiest conductor, Andris Nelsons, was listed 114 times in 2022, against a whopping 131 times in 2019. The rising star Klaus Mäkelä, only 26 years old, was listed 78 times in 2022, and is now among the top ten busiest conductors (he appeared in listings 34 times in 2019). Even Sir Simon Rattle has upped his numbers in our listings, appearing 73 times in 2022, against 53 times in 2019, a remarkable increase at the age of 67.

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The average age of conductors is also falling, a phenomenon that we have observed for several years. The average age of the top ten busiest conductors is now 46 – it had been 61 in 2010. The entry of Wunderkind Klaus Mäkelä into the top ten has certainly helped this, as has the departure of 69-year-old Valery Gergiev (due to his being barred from performing outside of Russia since the invasion of Ukraine).

Soloists also appear to be reaching comparable levels of busyness to 2019. The busiest violin soloist in 2022 was Patricia Kopatchinskaja: violin soloists remain one of the few areas where women are more present than men (albeit narrowly), with six of the top ten busiest violin soloists being women. The same is not true for piano where, despite appearing the most times, Yuja Wang is one of only two women in the top ten busiest piano soloists.

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The busiest orchestras appear also to be broadly in line with 2019, indicating that performance frequency is returning to pre-Covid levels. The Berliner Philharmoniker’s 111 performances this year is close to their 125 in 2019. And some orchestras have even increased their busyness – the Philadelphia Orchestra was listed 112 times in 2022, up from 99 in 2019.

Opera and Dance

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The statistics for opera this year are mostly in line with previous years, with the top ten most performed operas being dominated by Mozart, Puccini and Verdi (along with Bizet’s Carmen).

Among living composers, Philip Glass is having a bumper year for operatic productions. His operas Akhnaten, Orphée, Les Enfants Terribles and Einstein on the Beach were all mounted this year, at The Met in New York, Teatro Real in Madrid, in France, Belgium and at the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie.

The British composer Jonathan Dove enjoys the accolade of being the living composer with the most-performed single opera, with his work Flight receiving 17 performances this year across the UK and the US.

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Unlike living composers and conductors, choreographers are not seeing a marked increase in gender parity. 20 living choreographers saw more than 50 performances this year, and of this top 20, only one is a woman, the Canadian Crystal Pite. Within the top 100 choreographers working, there are 20 women, including Pite.

However, overall the 2022 statistics show a classical music world that is gradually bouncing back from the disruptions of Coronavirus – and at the same time is responding positively to demands to show greater commitment to gender parity and the inclusion of living artists. (Although Bachtrack does not collect data on ethnicity of composers or performers, the Movement for Black Lives is one reason for the increase of performance of living artists by US orchestras.) While there still remains a long way to go, what can be observed from these statistics is reason to be encouraged.

The Bachtrack Annual Statistics are based on events listed by Bachtrack only. While Bachtrack is the largest classical music listings site, our listings are not exhaustive, and necessarily represent a sample of the overall picture.