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Beethoven Overtakes Mozart as Most Popular Composer in New Poll

By Philip Trapp on Mar 29, 2016 01:00 PM EDT

A new listener's poll conducted by Classic FM has Beethoven besting Mozart as the most popular composer. The classical music station's annual poll results have historically had Mozart in the top position.

Classic FM has organized their "Hall of Fame" poll for the past 21 years. As the station's president, John Suchet, relayed to The Guardian, the outcome has usually placed Mozart as the most popular until this year's survey:

"Ever since we launched the first Classic FM Hall of Fame in 1996 Mozart has taken precedence -- that is until now. I think that Beethoven's new position as the most popular composer has to do with films such as the Oscar winning The King's Speech, which famously used his Symphony No 7 - but his music is so universally popular, if you land on any street in any town in any country of the world, someone will know Beethoven's work."

According to Classic FM, Beethoven and Bach have tied for first place in the poll on three separate occasions. This year's conclusion had 19 of Beethoven's works in the top 300 places, compared to Mozart's 16.

Other results of the poll had modern composer John Williams rising to his highest position yet, no doubt due to his work on last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The highest-voted single composition was Ralph Vaughan Williams' 1914 orchestration, The Lark Ascending.

While such poll results are entertaining, one's favorite composer remains a highly subjective deliberation. Considering Classical and Romantic era greats like Beethoven or Mozart, it proves difficult to even select a favorite composition from either.

Further, should you consider a particular Beethoven or Mozart piece your favorite -- what recording do you prefer? One of Beethoven's most well-known works is undoubtedly "Symphony No. 5." Can there be a definitive version?

NPR Music weighs in with an answer. In an article regarding Beethoven's best, they make the case for Carlos Kleiber's highly regarded 1975 recording:

"It's hard to settle on a single reason, but it's the chemistry between Carlos Kleiber and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra that seems to make this recording so special."

Below, listen to Carlos Kleiber and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's exemplary version of Beethoven's "Fifth."

We want to hear from you. Let us know if you prefer Mozart or Beethoven in the comments field below.

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TagsBeethoven, Mozart, Carlos Kleiber