The British classical website’s annual analysis of the musical endeavours of 2015 reflects the Aussie love of opera.

Every year, British-based classical music site Bachtrack analyses thousands of international concert listings to compile one of the world’s most detailed classical music infographics. In 2015 over 28,000 events were listed on the site, containing a total of 16,500 works. Who will take home the prize for most performed composer? Will Handel’s Messiah retain pole position as the most played concert work?  And who’s the king of the ballet? 

It’s not surprising that the composers, orchestras and conductors you would expect claim most of the titles, but Australia can be extremely proud of its performance with regards to opera, as Opera Australia are ranked third busiest opera company in the world last year, rising from eighth position in 2014. The Royal Opera, Covent Garden was the most active company, putting on a spectacular 212 performances over the course of the year, followed closely by The Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Italian composers dominate the top ten operas of the year, with Verdi’s La traviata in first place with a globetrotting list of performances from Sydney to Savonlinna, and Cape Town to Tokyo.

The most performed composer of the year was Mozart, followed closely by Beethoven, JS Bach and Brahms. It’s a trend for composers celebrating anniversaries to rocket towards the top, most notably Jean Sibelius who moved from 27th position in 2014 to No 9 last year, with his music performed in 719 concerts. Not a bad 150th birthday present.

The rankings show that orchestras are still cautious of programming lesser-known composers – such as the Danish composer Carl Neilsen (also celebrating his 150th birthday) who only moved from No 54 to 37. Outside of Denmark, no professional companies staged Nielsen’s biggest works: Maskarade or Saul and David. Sibelius certainly didn’t have this problem, with his Violin Concerto in D minor claiming third most played concert work, up from No 22 last year. Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 in C Minor took home the category prize with a staggering 151 performances, beating Handel’s Messiah with an equally impressive 119.

Arvo Pärt remains the most performed living composer, with American composer John Adams taking second place. However, throughout the statistics the gender balance remains strikingly uneven. American composer Jennifer Higdon was ranked joint 167 in the list of concert composers, even though she’s received accolades such as the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music and the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

Jonathan Dove was the top contemporary opera composer, with a total of 31 performances of five operas listed including a staging of his biggest stage work, Flight, by London’s Holland Park Opera. Sweden was the most adventurous country when it came to concert programming, with nearly 55% of their performances being works from the 20th and 21st century, whereas Australia came in tenth with only 28%.

The busiest conductor of 2015 was Jonathan McPhee, the resident Music Director at Boston Ballet and Music Director of Lexington Symphony and Symphony New Hampshire. He had 28 engagements in December alone, including nine where he conducted both matinee and evening performances. Sir Simon Rattle and Valery Gergiev came in second and third, respectively. The three busiest orchestras are all based in the US, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra pipping the New York Philharmonic to the top spot.

Thanks to Christmas tradition, Tchaikovsky is the ruling king of the ballet, with the Nutcracker the most performed ballet of the year. In fact this work dominated throughout the rankings, as there were more listings for the Nutcracker than any other single ballet, opera or concert work in 2015. The Ballet de l’Opera de Paris was the busiest dance company, alongside the Royal Ballet and New York City Ballet.

To see all the statistics, visit Bachtrack’s infographic here. More detailed information can be found in the written breakdown.

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