BBC Proms launches online Archive

Martin Cullingford5th Jul 2010
Step back in time: the BBC Proms Archive siteStep back in time: the BBC Proms Archive site

The BBC Proms has launched an online Archive containing a searchable database of every performance, composer, work, musician and ensemble to have featured in the festival’s 115-year history.

A total of 7168 concerts have taken place since Henry Wood raised the baton on the first Proms concert, held in the Queen’s Hall in 1895. Regularly drawing on the world’s leading artists, and with an active commissioning programme, the line-up of a Proms season provides something of a snapshot of the classical music world at that point in time.

According to the Archive Wagner is, by a long way, the most performed composer at the Proms, with his works appearing 4685 times. Beethoven comes second with 2733. Mozart, meanwhile, shows up as having had 1980 performances.

Tannhäuser is the most performed work, with excerpts from the opera having been performed 739 times. Beethoven’s most oft-performed work is the Fifth Symphony, with 141 performances.

Other classics to top the performance league are Rossini’s Overture to William Tell (173 performances), and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 (146 appearances).

Sir Henry Wood holds the title for most works conducted at 23,833. Sir Malcolm Sargent is second, but a long, long way behind.

As for the changing fortunes of composers and their works across the festival’s history, looking at the most recent 15 seasons, Prokofiev is the most performed composer, followed by Mozart, Stravinsky and JS Bach. Taking that same period a century previously, (1895–1909), Wagner, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Sullivan were the most performed composers. Meanwhile, Edward German, Charles Gounod and Arthur Sullivan had between them 750 works performed in the first decade of the 20th century, whereas in the first decade of the 21st, there have been just 15 performances of their music.

The Archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/proms/archive and the Proms is seeking users’ help in making sure it is as accurate as possible – errors can be sent to proms.archive@bbc.co.uk.
 
This year’s Proms season begins on Friday July 16. For more details, visit the Proms website.

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