Over the past two weeks we have been collaborating with BBC Countryfile magazine to find out who our readers’ favourite British composer is. An online poll posted on both the BBC Music and Countryfile websites asked participants to select their favourite from the following list of ten composers.


Arnold Bax (1883-1953)

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

William Byrd (c.1540-1623)

Frederick Delius (1862-1934)

Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

Henry Purcell (c.1659-1695)

Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585)

John Tavener (1944-2013)

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

The votes have been counted and Edward Elgar has come out on top, with 22.5 per cent of the total number of votes. Ralph Vaughan Williams has come very close with 22 per cent and the next most popular are Benjamin Britten with 14.5 per cent and Henry Purcell with 10.5 per cent.

John Tavener and William Byrd secured 7.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively, while Gustav Holst and Thomas Tallis both scored 5.5 per cent. Frederick Delius and Arnold Bax recieved 3.5 per cent and 2 per cent of the total number of votes respectively.

The composers each scored similarly in both polls, with the exception of John Tavener whose share of the vote for Countryfile (12 per cent) was four times that of BBC Music (3 per cent).

Scroll down to view a breakdown of the results.

To explore music by a range of British composers, take a look at Radio 3 Breakfast’s Best of British playlist.


2014 British Composer Awards shortlists announced

A guide to the great composers

15 travelling composers

15 badly behaved composers


Combined poll results

Arnold Bax: 2%

Benjamin Britten: 14.5%

William Byrd: 6.5%

Frederick Delius: 3.5%

Edward Elgar: 22.5%

Gustav Holst: 5.5%

Henry Purcell: 10.5%

Thomas Tallis: 5.5%

John Tavener: 7.5%

Ralph Vaughan Williams: 22%

BBC Music Magazine results

Arnold Bax: 2%

Benjamin Britten: 15%

William Byrd: 5%

Frederick Delius: 5%

Edward Elgar: 23%

Gustav Holst: 6%

Henry Purcell: 12%

Thomas Tallis: 5%

John Tavener: 3%

Ralph Vaughan Williams: 24%

BBC Countryfile magazine results

Arnold Bax: 2%

Benjamin Britten: 14%

William Byrd: 8%

Frederick Delius: 2%

Edward Elgar: 22%

Gustav Holst: 5%

Henry Purcell: 9%

Thomas Tallis: 6%

John Tavener: 12%


Ralph Vaughan Williams: 20%