Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No.2 tops 20-year poll of classical music

31 August 2015, 20:45 | Updated: 1 September 2015, 10:14

Star Wars composer John Williams is named most popular living composer in Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame, which combines 20 years' worth of polling data from annual Hall of Fame poll.

Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 has been voted the nation’s favourite piece of classical music in the Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame, which combines 20 years' of polling data from the annual Classic FM Hall of Fame, the world’s largest poll of classical music tastes. The station’s biggest-ever countdown has been compiled from nearly 3 million votes.

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Mozart has been named the most popular composer with 20 entries in the Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame. Beethoven came second with 17 entries, followed by Tchaikovsky and Elgar, who was voted the most popular British composer with 12 pieces.

John Williams has become the most popular living composer with five film soundtracks in the chart: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List. Sir Karl Jenkins came second and has been named the most popular living British composer with four pieces in the top 300 including Adiemus, Palladio and Requiem and The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace.

While the Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame reveals the nation’s love affair with timeless pieces such as Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.5 (‘Emperor’), the chart demonstrates a surge in the popularity of film scores and videogame music.

In the Hall of Fame’s 20-year history, the number of movie soundtracks has risen from just two in 1996 to 22 in this year’s annual chart, with John Williams’s iconic theme to Star Wars jumping the highest number of places of any film score. In 2011, the growth in the genre led Classic FM to launch a weekly programme dedicated to film music called Saturday Night at the Movies. Andrew Collins is the current host of the show.

The popularity of videogame music has also soared in recent years and in this year’s annual Hall of Fame chart, there were 12 entries, compared to none five years ago.

Classic FM presenter Aled Jones said: “The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame gives us an unrivalled look at the nation’s classical music tastes during the last two decades. The core classical pieces remain as popular as ever, but it is exciting that the emergence of film soundtracks and videogame music have engaged a new and younger generation with the genre. The chart confirms that classical music is as relevant to modern day life as it was 20 years ago.”