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Last Composer Standing – the results

With reports in from all the major publishers, here, in descending order, is a list of the most performed new music of the 21st century. I shall offer some analysis in a further post, but the list - as you can see - contains several surprises and it will reorder our priorities as to which composer is making the most waves in the present epoch. Here is the second tranch of the top twenty: 20 Philip Glass, In the Penal Colony (2000) - 65 performances 19 Kaija Saariaho's 2000 opera … [Read more...]

Last composer standing – it’s the rising clarinet

The esteemed firm of Schott (Mainz and London) has submitted its most performed works of the past ten years. Well, not quite the last ten years since anything that happened before the computer was installed in 2004 is distinctly sketchy. Probably kept in a drawer as scaprs of paper with a lock of Beethoven's hair. Still, the returns demand serious attention because every single work on the list is strictly highbrow - no concession here to Classic FM style. I'll present the Schott list … [Read more...]

Last composer standing – guess who’s top now

Just when you thought the most performed works of 2000-2010 were soft-focus sad songs, new results just in from the Music Sales Group in London and New York overturn the tables.  First from the London office of Chester, Novello, Dungaven and St Rose. At joint number 10, it's Judith Weir's piano quartet and Ludovico Einaudi's Devenire with 35 performances each. Above them, Philip Glass with The Sound of a Voice (39), Rachel Portman, The Little Prince … [Read more...]

Last composer standing – more shocks and spills

Two more publishers, Faber Music and Universal Edition, have just submitted their most performed works of the century's first decade, and you won't believe what they are. UE, the benchmark label of modernism, has lost many of its big names - Boulez, Berio, Birtwistle, Stockhausen - to silence, mortality or other labels. The company is, as they say, under reconstruction. Only four names appear in its top ten below. Its biggest performer over the decade was Arvo Pärt's Lamentate (2002), a … [Read more...]

So who took an axe to your piano?

A friend who is writing a play about a parent who resents his child's musical talent wonders if there is any known instance of an adult actually destroying an instrument because he or she cannot bear the child moving in an uncontrollable direction. I've racked my brain and can't think of one. There are instances of self-harm among musicians who feel technically inadequate - Schumann, the most famous - but can anyone call to mind an enraged parent smashing a violin against a wall, or taking … [Read more...]

Promises, promises… and a prospect of Bliss

Three publishers in London and New York are working day and night to supply me with audited figures of their most performed 21st century works in response to yesterday's post. Or so they swear. I will pass the information on as soon as it hits my mailbox. Meanwhile, I see that Brett Dean's opera of Peter Carey's novel Bliss is going to hit the boards next month in Sydney and Melbourne, and in Hamburg at the end of September. Bliss the novel is an ad-man's view of the … [Read more...]

Barenboim jumps down and bows out

In the final act of his London Beethoven-Schoenberg cycle, Daniel Barenboim took applause on stage with the orchestra for his Strauss polka encore and then bounded downstairs to the Clore Ballroom where hundreds of people had watched the concert free on a large screen. After four nights of intensive music making to a sell-out crowd, Barenboim could not wait apparently to get to the invisible audience, the non-payers, the future potential. Not many conductors can be bothered to do … [Read more...]

Last composer standing – who is really the most performed?

Three months ago I kicked off a public conversation here as to which living composers are most likely to last the test of time. You can read the results here. The discussion, which spread into several languages, prompted soul searching and stock-taking at music publishers. One of the leaders, Boosey & Hawkes, has just sent me a list of works of the past decade that achieved the greatest number of performances. The top ten are not what I expected. To avoid giving you a quick fix, I'll start … [Read more...]

New twist on classical record stats

This just in from Eric Dingman, president of EMI Classics:   I'd like to add some points for the discussion...   Perhaps useful to remember that the % swings dramatically in years when major Classic releases happen because of the relative small size of classics %-wise in USA.   This indicates that there can be broader interest than the prevailing 2 - 2.5%     South Korea's reputed 18% classics share of sales relates to the physical product sales which in SK … [Read more...]

What Lang Lang did next

No sooner had I broken the Chinese pianist's label switch on Bloomberg than Google flashed up his new deal with Bombardier, makers of Lear jets as its brand ambassador for 2010. 'Flying on Bombardier business jets allows me to reach audiences worldwide faster, well-rested and focussed,' explained Lang Lang. So I guess we won't be bumping into him again in the Easyjet departure lounge. Before these coups, Lang Lang was in Davos last week, lecturing world and business … [Read more...]

What to do when a conductor throws up

A hilarious blog by Gareth Davies, principal flute of the London Symphony Orchestra, tells what really happens when a conductor is unwell. In this instance, Sir John Eliot Gardiner was puking in Paris five minutes before curtain and the players were trying to remember Plan B. Read it here. Happily, conductors are made of sterner stuff than tennis aces - witness Rafa Nadal wussing out of the Australian Open - and Beethoven is better at concentrating the mind than another set … [Read more...]

Classical numbers – where it hurts most

The last time Hilary Hahn topped the classical charts, I reported that she was selling fewer than 500 copies a week. This time, after an appearance on the Tonight Show, Anne Midgette writes that she's selling fewer than 1,000 - still peanuts on any pop scale. Anne quotes a Sony man who says classical accounts for three percent of US record sales. No longer. It's below two percent, and most of that is made up of non-classical crossover. Real classical music is way below the Nielsen … [Read more...]

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