Sounding out big names from the last two centuries of music could be the key theme of 1997. A massive BBC festival - Sounding the Century - devoted to the music of the last 100 years, begins in February and will last until the end of the millennium. First up for extended scrutiny is Stravinsky, with 10 London concerts devoted to his wide-ranging output. Then there's Debussy: Painter of Dreams - who gets a triptych of events at the Barbican from the LSO in late February, which is also when Sir Simon Rattle's ongoing examination of music from each decade of our century reaches the 1960s. Henze, Britten, Messiaen and Lutoslawski are amongst those to be played. Meanwhile, Lutoslawski receives his own weekend at the Barbican from 17 January, with "Breaking the Chains".

Three key figures from the last century are also poised to be commemorated this year - Schubert was born on 31 January, 200 years ago; Brahms died in 1897; and Mendelssohn died in 1847.

Schubert song cycles and chamber works can be heard at London's Wigmore Hall throughout this month, when a two-part retrospective from Gidon Kremer also begins at the Barbican; Peter Donohoe gives three recitals of piano music at Warwick Arts Centre (from 9 Jan); a Norwich Schubert Bicentenary weekend begins on 31 January.

Brahms's orchestral works come under scrutiny from Sir Colin Davis and the LSO are at the Barbican from 29 January for a month.

As for opera, the highlight is the first-ever British staging of Pfitzner's epic Palestrina from the Royal Opera, from 28 January. ENO mounts a new production of Rossini's Italian Girl in Algiers, directed by Howard Davies, from 18 January and revives its acclaimed Jonathan Miller Rosenkavalier from 29 January. Meanwhile, currently in repertory at Leeds, is a revival of Britten's Gloriana by Opera North.

Of living composers, Ligeti returns to London's South Bank for the second part of his Clocks and Clouds retrospective (19 February), and John Adams celebrates his 50th birthday with the Halle in Manchester on 23 January. The Park Lane Group's five-day platform for young artists playing contemporary works begins at London's Purcell Room tomorrow, with Anthony Payne as the featured composer. In the first concert the Brunel Ensemble plays Julian Anderson's Khorovod.

Leaving aside the major symphony orchestras, ensemble highlights in the months ahead include: the Nash Ensemble, Sinfonia 21, the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, the Northern Sinfonia, Manchester Camerata, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. Plus, look out for the California Ear Unit's first British tour, beginning at Newcastle Playhouse on 24 January.