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Rub your eyes: Britten overtakes Beethoven in US sales

After last week’s sensational Decca blitz that put Daniel Barenboim’s Beethoven set at numbers one and three of the Nielsen Soundscan listings, normal service has been resumed with a film soundtrack topping US classical sales.

But which soundtrack is that? It’s Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and much of the music is by Benjamin Britten. It opens with a sequence from Noye’s Fludde, in which Anderson sang as a kid, and proceeds with Young Person’s Guide, with added clips of Saint-Saens and Schubert. The excellent Alexandre Desplat pulls the whole score together with hits from his chanson drawer.

I was with some Brittenites last night and they were literally over the Moonrise at the exposure BB is getting, just before the centenary liftoff. The Moonrise Kingdom album made 1901 sales in the US last week, against Beethovenfor All’s 829. Believe it.

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  1. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    The 3 Bs of the 20th century: Berg, Bartok, and Britten…their music continues to sound fresh. Should we make it 4 and add Havergal Brian ? (probably not, his music is most interesting but not on the level of the other Bees).

    • Bernstein, Birtwhistle, Bloch, Boulanger, Bridge, Bliss…..what is it with the letter B that makes it so popular with composers ?

      • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

        The letter B is the music librarian’s nightmare. When they get past that, the Ms and Ss loom as major roadblocks to completing their catalog.

      • Paul Pellay says:

        Well, while we’re at it, let’s add Bax, Barber, Berio, (Richard Rodney) Bennett, Boulez, Bridge and Busoni to the mix.

    • Diabolus in Musicae says:

      Mr. Fitzpatrick is playing the arbitor elegantiarum as usual.

      Berg? Nah….yes, he was a genious composer, but listening to one of his works more than once a year gives audiences a monumental headache (me included).

      Britten and Bartok…sure, a lot of their music is great, but some of it requires Tylenol (c).

      I’m going to be an iconoclast here, and skip the obvious greats such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. How about Martinu, Zamecnik and Vladigerov to break the predictable pattern?

      I will add my vote for Bax, Barber, Bridge and Busoni if we’re looking at B grade composers. I love their music as well.

      But, hey – who cares? We can buy all the music we like through Most orchestras don’t have interesting programming anyway unless they’re in the top 6. And even there the choices are dubitable at best.

      The music business is far too serious these days to leave in the hands of artistic directors and conductors anyway. I am sad to say – an impression reinforced once again this week – that musicians should never have full control of a symphony orchestra’s repertoire or, indeed, full discretion over artistic choices unless they want to commit professional suicide.

  2. Michael Hurshell says:

    … Walter Braunfels, Julius Burger…

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