BBC Proms launches online archive today

Surprise revelations include the Proms's top composer

Do you know when exactly Sir Henry Wood first conducted Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra at the Proms? Or how many appearances violinist Viktoria Mullova has made at the Albert Hall compared with, say, David Oistrakh? Now you may find out by searching the new online archive, launched today by the BBC Proms.
All 7,168 concerts programmed since 1895 have been included by composer, work, soloist, conductor, ensemble or date. One may search either for a specific programme, or for details of when and by whom a work was first played at the Proms, or simply find the top 40 players in any span of years of one’s choosing.
The database contains some surprising revelations. For instance the most performed composer is neither Elgar, for all the Last Night’s ‘Land of Hope and Glories’, nor Beethoven, despite the tradition of performing all his symphonies each season. Rather it is Wagner, who has enjoyed 5,892 performances of his music (excerpts from Tannhäuser especially) – more than double the amount of the next favoured composer, Beethoven, with 2,818.
Tucked among the expected Mahler, Rossini and Stravinsky works and Proms premieres are some surprising repertoire, including music by Lennon & McCartney, Bob Marley, Kate Bush and Johnny Rotten.
Roger Wright, director of the BBC Proms, says: ‘To have the entire database of concerts available reveals much about the Proms itself, but also about the history of classical music in the UK over the past 115 years. It’s fascinating to see developments in musical trends and the careers and popularity of particular artists, composers and music.’
Daniel Jaffé