The last couple of days have seen a healthy debate on the Guardian's pages on the subject of modern classical music - love it or hate it (see Joe Queenan's article and Tom Service's blog).

Since we have a large database of concerts here - we believe we now have the highest coverage of top quality concerts worldwide of any concert finder on the web - we thought we'd inform the debate with a few statistics.

We classify works according to the period of the composer: Modern, Romantic, Classical, Baroque and Early. There's some subjectivity in the classification, but anyone born in the 20th century falls into Modern, as do some born in the late 18th century if they are clearly no longer writing in an 18th century style (this includes the impressionists such as Debussy and Ravel).

Here is a table of performances of orchestral works in 2008. It covers around 2,600 performances in the UK, 1,500 in the rest of Europe and 1,700 in the USA.

UK Europe USA Baroque 9% 2% 4% Classical 11% 9% 10% Romantic 47% 51% 41% Modern 32% 38% 43%

Within the UK, the Southbank and the Barbican play significantly more modern works than the rest of the country – their total looks like: Modern 42%, Romantic 45%, Classical 10%, Baroque 4%.

The category labelled "modern" includes a great deal of music that is now considered fairly accessible (Prokofiev, Rachmaninov etc), and not in the “late 20th century pushing the boundaries” category. On a quick look at the Southbank and Barbican figures, I immediately identified around two thirds of the the modern items as being of this type. This means that no more than one in six of their orchestral performances is of late 20th century/21st century work.

Conclusions, therefore, for the orchestral music scene:

The Southbank and Barbican are pretty much in line with the rest of the world as to how much modern music played. Something under a sixth of their orchestral performances are of the more experimental work.

The rest of the UK plays a great deal less modern work, and more baroque, than the rest of the world.

Taken together, Romantic and early 20th century works form the vast majority of orchestral performances.

David Karlin 10th July 2008