BBC Launches Proms Archive

Posted on July 5, 2010

The BBC has launched a Proms archive, listing all performances, composers, works, soloists, conductors and ensembles in its 115-year history.  Details of all the 7,168 concerts which have taken place since 1895 can be searched in the online database.

It’s taken two years to compile and cross-check the database using old Proms programmes.

Roger Wright, director BBC Proms, said it was a “fascinating” snapshot of musical trends over the last century. Some of the facts uncovered include:

* Wagner is the most performed composer
* Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 (Land Of Hope And Glory) has been performed 146 times
* Wagner’s Tannhauser is the most performed work
* Sir Henry Wood – the Proms co-founder – conducted more than 23,000 pieces
* Sir Simon Rattle’s first Prom was in 1976, when he was 21 years old

Manchester Camerata appears in the database on 27 July 2005 and 20 July 2209.

The team who worked on the database faced several challenges while compiling the record.

There was a huge effort to standardise spellings and how particular works are listed, and to recognise changes in the titles of works and the names of ensembles over the years.

Programme listings also had to be cross-checked with what actually happened at the concerts, as works and artists were often added or changed at the last minute.

Another challenge was identifying pieces of music by now-forgotten composers and working out who actually performed them.

Search the Database

Read Tom Service in the Guardian blogging about the Archive