Experiments


Top 25 Works at CH

chdl-0009

Ever wonder what the most popular works are at Carnegie Hall?

Click a work title to see it's CH performance history. Click a composer's name to see their Wikidata item.

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Rank Composer Work Title Number of Performances
1. John Stafford Smith The Star Spangled Banner 680
2. Frederic Chopin Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23 392
3. George Frideric Handel Messiah 379
4. Richard Wagner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act I. Prelude 357
5. Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68 355
6. Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 326
7. Frederic Chopin Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53 310
8. Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92 300
9. Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57, "Appassionata" 294
10. Frederic Chopin Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 52 292
11. Frederic Chopin Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 31 292
12. Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73 291
13. Johannes Brahms Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98 288
14. Ludwig van Beethoven Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55, "Eroica" 283
15. Ludwig van Beethoven Leonore Overture No. 3, Op. 72b 282
16. Felix Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64 281
17. Frederic Chopin Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Major, Op. 47 281
18. Richard Wagner Tannhäuser: Overture 280
19. Frederic Chopin Piano Sonata in B Minor, Op. 58 270
20. Frederic Chopin Barcarolle in F-sharp Major, Op. 60 268
21. Modest Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition 266
22. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64 261
23. Frederic Chopin Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 39 256
24. Richard Wagner Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod 253
25. Johannes Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77 252

lab report

EXPERIMENT LABEL/TITLE

Top 25 Works at CH

TL;DR

Create a query to show the 25 most often performed works at Carnegie Hall, and create a user-friendly display.


METHODS

[We created a SPARQL query to return the composer name (plus their Wikidata Item ID), work title, and performance count of each work. By asking the query engine to sort the results in descending order and limiting the result set to the first 25 pattern matches, we can show the top 25 most often performed works:


              PREFIX dcterms: <http://purl.org/dc/terms/>
              PREFIX event: <http://purl.org/NET/c4dm/event.owl#>
              PREFIX foaf: <http://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/>
              PREFIX rdfs: <http://www.w3.org/2000/01/rdf-schema#>
              PREFIX skos: <http://www.w3.org/2004/02/skos/core#>
              SELECT DISTINCT ?composerName ?wikidataLink ?workTitle (COUNT(DISTINCT ?workPerf) AS ?numberOfPerformances)
              WHERE {
                ?work dcterms:creator ?composer ;
                rdfs:label ?workTitle .
                ?composer foaf:name ?composerName .
                ?event event:product ?workPerf .
                ?workPerf event:product ?work .
                MINUS { ?composer foaf:name "Anonymous" . }
                OPTIONAL { ?composer skos:exactMatch ?wikidataLink .
                  filter contains(str(?wikidataLink), "wikidata")}
                }
                GROUP BY ?composerName ?workTitle ?wikidataLink
                ORDER BY DESC(?numberOfPerformances)
                LIMIT 25
            

Note that for many earlier events, program listings were sometimes vague, or, since our archives weren't established until 1986, we may have incomplete information, or may be missing the information altogether. Because of this, our database has many event records where works had to be recorded with "Anonymous" as the composer and work titles like "Unknown selection". In order to filter out the relatively high number of such entries, we included a MINUS pattern:


              MINUS { ?composer foaf:name "Anonymous" . }
            

In fairness, the "high" number of Anonymous/Unknown selection entries is relative only to the kinds of numbers we see with often-performed works. When viewed in the context of ~100,000 musical works performed across 50,000+ events over 130 years, 500 or so instances of an unknown work is actually not very high, especially considering how often we aren't in control of the quality of event information to which we have access.

CONCLUSIONS

what we learned

News flash: Chopin, Beethoven, and Brahms are popular 🙃! That Richard Wagner places so high might surprise modern audiences, since his works are not so often performed outside of the opera house anymore, but they were *very* popular during the first 50 years (1891 through the early 1940s) of the Hall's history. That Tchaikovsky doesn't appear until No. 22 *is* surprising, in some ways -- but in other ways this shows us how the popularity of some composers (Wagner, Tchaikovsky) ebbs and flows more than others (Chopin, Beethoven, Brahms) whose popularity seems consistently high througout the years.

further investigation

It would be interesting to dig more deeply into the details to examine the year-by-year waxing and waning of the popularity of certain composers and works.


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