The ABC’s top 100 20th century works

This weekend,  the ABC  revealed its  list of ‘Classic 100 20th Century Works’ culminating in a live broadcast from the Adelaide Festival Centre. The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Benjamin Northey were joined by soloists Kristian Chong (piano),  Ji Won Kim (violin), Simon Tedeschi (piano) and Pei-Jee Ng (cello) to perform from the works that made it to the top – listing heavily to the 20th century Romantics, the top 5 were:

5. Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2

4. Vaughan-Williams The Lark Ascending

3, Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

2. Holst The Planets

1. Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor Op.85

No surprises.

John Adams just made it in at No 100 with his opera Nixon in China. Other composers to make a single appearance were Orff (Carmina Burana No 8), Weill (Threepenny Opera No 85), Jenkins (The Armed Man No 68), Lloyd Webber (Requiem No 91 ), Tavener (Song for Athene No 95) and Lehar (The Merry Widow No 89).

Conspicuously absent from the list were the likes of Poulenc, Satie, Ives, Rautavaara, Hindemith and Janacek; and Bartok and Schoenberg might be important enough to have more than one work in the list. But this is less about impact and more about the likes of the listening public.

Gustav Mahler won the most mentions – 6 in all, for five of his symphonies (Nos 6,9,4,8,5 in ascending order) and Das Liede von Erde. Ravel, Rachmaninov, Britten, Sibelius and Elgar all received 5 mentions.

The Australians were present in respectable numbers – Sculthorpe and Edwards (2 works each), Westlake, O’Boyle and Kats-Chernin. No Mills, Dean, Butterley or Meale.

Orchestral works were overwhelmingly popular (45 out of the 100), followed by 15 concerti, 11 choral works, 10 operas and 4 chamber works. There were 6 ballets and 2 piano works.

The most versatile? Unarguably, it is Britten who had an opera (Peter Grimes), choral  (Ceremony of Carols and War Requiem), orchestral (Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra) and vocal (Serenade for tenor, horn and strings) works in the wining list.

Here’s the link to the full list:

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