|Busoni, on the left, and Sibelius in London, 1921|
Ferruccio Busoni and Jean Sibelius were great friends and great party animals and when they were in the same city they had to be assigned a minder just to make sure that they showed up on time for their concerts. In February 1921 they were both in England for concerts of their music. Sibelius, of course, is a core composer for both the repertory and the canon. Busoni was far more important during his lifetime (1866 - 1924) as a composer, pianist, teacher and writer than he seems to be today. Apart from his Bach transcriptions (most famously that of the Chaconne, originally for solo violin, arranged for piano by Busoni), his music does not appear in the repertory, though some pieces, the Fantasia contrappuntistica for example, are perhaps part of the canon.
But in 1921 while English audiences received the Symphony No. 5 of Sibelius with great favor, they were much less appreciative of his Symphony No. 4, still considered rather difficult. They preferred the Indian Fantasy for piano and orchestra by Busoni! But this work, as so many others by Busoni, seems to have disappeared from concert programs and has only a tiny stub of an article in Wikipedia. Here is a performance with the score (performer not indicated). It has 2400 views on YouTube:
Of course the majority of pieces by Sibelius are also neglected in concert programs, but a few of the symphonic poems and the occasional piece like the Valse triste are staples of the repertoire today and most of the symphonies are well anchored in the canon. The pieces by Sibelius that seem most neglected today are those shorter chamber works such as the Five Pieces for Violin and Piano, Op. 81:
Of course, he knew at the time that these were lesser works and he wrote them largely for the publishing income.
I guess the general point here is that audiences, critics, musicians and even fellow composers are unlikely to be able to identify what pieces are going to become staples of the repertory fifty or a hundred years hence. In the year 2117 are we going to be listening to a lot of concerts of Steve Reich or Philip Glass? Or perhaps Elliot Carter? Will we have just celebrated in grand fashion the two-hundredth anniversary of the Rite of Spring? Or will it have been nearly forgotten? No-one knows. Heck we may have re-discovered Busoni and be celebrating him in festivals all over.
Here is the aforementioned Fantasia contrappuntistica played by John Ogden (fewer than 1,200 views on YouTube):