Friday, January 15, 2016

A Look Back at 2015

The site Bachtrack assembles some interesting statistics about classical music. Here are the top ten most-performed composers of 2015:
Top 10 concert composers in 2015 (2014 position in brackets):
  1. Mozart (2)
  2. Beethoven (1)
  3. J.S.Bach (3)
  4. Brahms (4)
  5. Schubert (5)
  6. Haydn (12)
  7. Ravel (10)
  8. Sibelius (26)
  9. Schumann (11)
The big jump in Sibelius' performances is attributable to the fact that 2015 was the 150th anniversary of his birth. It is also very nice to see Joseph Haydn break into the top ten. Here is their list of the top ten most-performed works:
10 most played concert works(2014 ranking):   
  1. Beethoven: Symphony no. 5 in C minor (9)
  2. Handel: Messiah (1)
  3. Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor (22)
  4. Tchaikovsky: Symphony no. 5 in E minor (26)
  5. Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor (29)
  6. Beethoven: Symphony no. 7 in A major (2)
 I'm not sure what this tells us other than Beethoven is a pretty good symphony composer and the violin concerto is an always popular genre. About the only other statistic of interest is the top ten operas:
Top 10 operas of 2015 (2014 ranking):
  1. Verdi: La traviata (2)
  2. Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro (9)
  3. Bizet: Carmen (3)
  4. Mozart: Die Zauberflöte (6)
  5. Puccini: Madama Butterfly (5)
  6. Puccini: La bohème (1)
  7. Mozart: Don Giovanni (7)
  8. Verdi: Rigoletto (10)
  9. Puccini: Tosca (4)
  10. Rossini: Il barbiere di Siviglia (8)
Mozart and Puccini are the only composers with three operas in the top ten and Mozart is the only composer who excelled at both opera and instrumental composition. Notice that none of the other composers on the opera list appears on the two other lists.

As an envoi, let's listen to the overture to the Magic Flute. This is the Vienna Philharmonic directed by Riccardo Muti;


Marc Puckett said...

At one of those music sites, there was just the other day a post with ten versions of the Queen of the Night's 'terrifying' aria Der Hölle rache; a couple were a bit scary for reasons not connected with the lyrics or the voice. Hmm. Sinfini Music. []

Bryan Townsend said...

Great collection! The range of what Mozart was capable of is really amazing: from the most delicate beauty, to heart-rending sorrow, to music that truly terrifies!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Der Hoelle rache, I challenge anyone to listen to Jenkins's epic version without concluding that God exists -- and He sometimes likes to have a good laugh.

Rickard Dahl said...

Good that Haydn is gaining more popularity. I'm actually in the process of listening through all of Haydn's works, there's actually quite a lot. Many chamber works I've never heard.

I wish I didn't have to mention it here and go off topic but the troll has actually posted negative comments on my videos and shared on Google+ (his channel is "The 10-String Guitar Channel"). He and some other people (probably trolls) have downvoted my videos (obviously with the intention to try to hurt me). Of course the best solution is the short and long run is probably to ignore them.

Bryan Townsend said...

Sorry that you have been caught up in the tsumani of negativity! I guess we have just been lucky here not to have had this happen before. I think that our troll is just one person who uses some pseudonyms.

Oh yes, there is an amazing amount of chamber music by Haydn. I really only know the quartets and a few of the piano trios.

Anonymous said...

Marc: I posted my link before clicking on yours and realizing you also had a link of Jenkins's masterpiece. Sorry.

Marc Puckett said...

Ha; having listened to Madame Florence yet again-- it is like slowing to catch a glimpse of the accident on the highway-- I will say her self-confidence or whatever it was has prompted me to re-read Bryan's post the other day about beginning violin at an advanced age.... It appears that she had contracted syphilis from her husband, alas, so it is probably very unkind to laugh at her singing which was doubtless accompanied by the onset of dementia &c. Still.

Wonder why Eine kleine Nachtmusik went from 48th to 9th in the list of concert works? Have never heard it in the concert hall.

Too bad, Rickard. People, people; tsk.

Bryan Townsend said...

I think that there is considerable granularity in how much particular works are performed year to year. One year, as I recall, the most performed composer by US orchestras was Brahms.

Marc Puckett said...

Read at the 'granularity' page at Wikipedia until my eyes glazed over & still don't quite know what you mean.

Bryan Townsend said...

Sorry, Marc! I tossed out that term rather casually. But looking at the article, it was appropriate. All that I meant was that the Classical canon has a fairly small universe of elements. There are only so many "great" composers and so many "great" works in the sense of "very popular classical pieces." There is a kind of "top 40" of classical music and which pieces might pop up in any given year is pretty much by chance. Over a longer timespan, certain pieces are going to be consistently high on the list of performances and others consistently lower. Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen might get a lot of performances one year and hardly any the next. Same for any particular piece in any given year.

David said...

Bryan, the information on most performed works and composers from Bachtrack provides an interesting divertimento for January. On looking at the site's infographic, it was notable that the distribution of performances when classified by historic period (Baroque/Romantic+Classical/20th +21st Century) and country showed that Canadian audiences get significantly more Baroque content than any other location (27% of content in Canada vs 20% in UK, 12% in USA and 10% in Germany). This (dare we call it "Tafelmusik Syndrome?) seems to eat into Canadian performances of Classical and Romantic works where we see less than all other countries reported on (36%). Modern music seems to have a pretty consistent hold on 30-40% of programming every where other than Sweden, where the advanced tastes of audiences drive that number to 55%. Here is the link to the Bachtrack infographic:

Best wishes for a happy and productive New Year

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, David. Makes me realize I barely scratched the surface of that site. I didn't even realize they had a geographical breakdown. The Tafelmusik Syndrome is awfully strong in Canada!

Thanks and same to you!