Arvo Pärt is the world’s most performed living composer

The Estonian composer Arvo Pärt has become the most performed living composer in the world again; in 2019, he was ranked second.

Arvo Pärt is the world’s most performed living composer, according to the classical music event database, Bachtrack.

Bachtrack calculates a series of statistics each year that show the number of times the work of each composer has been performed, along with information regarding the hardest-working conductors, orchestras and most performed individual works.

Top 10 contemporary composers in 2022

Arvo Pärt

John Williams

John Adams

Thomas Adès

Philip Glass

Jörg Widmann

Sofia Gubaidulina

Anna Clyne

Wolfgang Rihm

Sir James MacMillan

Pärt was also the most performed living composer from 2012-2018, while he was second in 2019, behind John Williams. In 2020 and 2021, Backtrack didn’t compile the data, due to the Covid-19 pandemic that forced the cancellation of most of the concerts.

Arvo Pärt and his wife Nora Pärt enjoying the Estonian winter. Photo by Birgit Püve.

Besides Pärt, the list is dominated by composers from the US and the UK, with 27 Americans and 24 Brits making the cut. “In comparison, only eight French and five German living composers make the list,” Backtrack said.

The top ten concert composers overall were Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Chopin.

Backtrack said around 14,000 concerts, 9,000 opera performances, and almost four thousand dance performances took place in 2022. While the number of events was around 20 per cent fewer than before the pandemic, the classical music world is gradually rebounding to pre-Covid levels of activity.

Tallinn Chamber Orcestra, conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste, performing Arvo Pärt’s works.

Kristiina Poska and Paavo Järvi among the busiest conductors

The classical music event database noted that gender parity among living composers is greatly improving – at least among Americans and Brits.

“Of the 24 British composers in the 106 most performed living composers, 12 are women. Of the 27 American composers on the list, ten are women. Women composers are also close to the top of the list in number of performances too – there are nine women in the top 20 most performed living composers. In 2019, there was only one and in 2013, there were no women at all in the top 200 living composers.”

The Bachtrack statistics also show that women conductors are faring much better in 2022 than in previous years. Of the top 100 busiest conductors, 12 are women – including Kristiina Poska from Estonia.

Kristiina Poska was among the top 100 busiest conductors in the world in 2022. Photo by Kaupo Kikkas.

It was a very successful year also for Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi, who was the third busiest in the world, behind Latvia’s Andris Nelsons and Canadian Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Read also: Sounds emanating love – the story of Arvo Pärt.

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