Mozart's 'birthday effect' propels composer to No 1

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The Independent Culture

Following a surge in his popularity described as "the birthday effect", Mozart has been named Britain's favourite composer on the 250th anniversary of his birth

His "Clarinet concerto in A Major" was declared as the most popular classical work, beating Rachmaninov's "Piano Concerto No 2", which had won the accolade on the Classic FM Hall of Fame for the past five years.

The new support for Mozart means the chart - one of the biggest classical music polls in the world - has a new No 1 for the third time in its 11-year history.

Mozart was also declared the most popular composer with 24 entries in the Top 300, three more than his nearest rival Beethoven. It is the first time any composer has won the double in the history of the chart

Rachmaninov's "Piano Concerto No 2" and Vaughan Williams' "A Lark Ascending" were in second and third place .

Elgar was the most popular British composer with nine entries in the Top 300, closely followed by Vaughan Williams with eight.

Karl Jenkins' "The Armed Man" at No 10 was the highest placed work by a living composer, one place down on last year and down two on his best ever placing in 2004.

Darren Henley, Classic FM Station Manager, said: "As one of classical music's greatest ever composers, it is fitting that Mozart should top the Classic FM Hall of Fame on the 250th anniversary of his birth. What is surprising is that it's taken him 11 years to get there."

The "birthday effect" of Mozart has resulted in an unprecedented season of concerts celebrating his music around the country, from the Barbican in London to the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, which held a "Mozart marathon" last month.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1756, was a musical prodigy, able to play the piano at the age of four. He was composing his own works just a year later.

In 1763, while still learning the violin, his father took him and his elder sister, Maria Anna, also a young pianist, on a tour of Europe lasting four years to exhibit their talents to a wider audience.

Mozart astonished people with his precocious skills; he played to the French and English Royal families, had his first music published and wrote his earliest symphonies. He was famous by the age of 10, and composed his first symphony aged eight. He spent much of his life in Vienna and his final work, the "Requiem", was unfinished at his death in 1791 at 35.

The top ten

* Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A Major

* Rachmaninov: (left) Piano Concerto No 2

* Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending

* Beethoven: Emperor Concerto

* Bruch: Violin Concerto No 1 in G minor

* Beethoven: (left) Pastoral Symphony

* Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor

* Beethoven: Ode to Joy

* Elgar: (left) Enigma Variations

* Jenkins: The Armed Man (A Mass for Peace)

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