The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Mozart outsells Beyoncé, Adele and Drake in 2016 | December 17, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

It’s official.

The 18th-century classical music icon Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has sold more CDs in 2016 than such superstar pop singers as Beyoncé, Adele and Drake.

Mozart c 1780 detail of portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

Of course it has something to do with a quirk of packaging and marketing – specifically a 200-CD set of the complete works by Mozart that is selling well at holiday time.

The Ear doesn’t think it means much in the way of reversing the decline in attendance at live classical concerts or the need to find bigger and younger audiences for the classics.

To be sure, the Grammys will still devote more air time and publicity to Beyoncé, Adele and Drake.

And The Ear is betting the same thing won’t happen again next year. Or the year after that. Or maybe ever.

But it still feels good, even if only temporarily.

And the phenomenon does say something about where the recording industry is heading.

To find out more here is a good summary story, which you can listen to or read, that appeared on National Public Radio (NPR)

The Ear has so many favorite Mozart works. One is his last piano concerto – No. 27 in B-flat major, K. 595 — which you can hear performed by Mitsuko Uchida in the YouTube video at the bottom.

What is your favorite Mozart work?

An opera? A work of chamber music? A sonata for solo piano or for piano and violin? A string quartet or quintet?

Leave word and, if you can, a link to your favorite recording of it.

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. My favorite Mozart is his Piano Concerto in A Major; K. 488.

    Comment by Larry Retzack — February 5, 2017 @ 3:58 pm

  2. My favorite Mozart: his clarinet concerto.

    And I think that Mozart is one of the few classical musicians known to young people and attribute this not only to the box sets, but to the movie Amadeus. In that movie, young people can relate to him as a person(he had problems as a human being but was still a huge success). Plus, the acting, directing, and everything was first rate.

    I think classical music as a whole would benefit by similar, top drawer movies on the lives of: Schubert, Beethoven, and some more recent figures (Bernstein, Gershwin, Philip Glass).

    Comment by FFlambeau — December 17, 2016 @ 7:41 pm

    • “Mozart in the Jungle” –the paid for streaming series– has also popularized and spread the word about Mozart to younger people: especially with its message of sex (yes, classical composers like it too), drugs, and struggling to make it.

      Comment by FFlambeau — December 17, 2016 @ 8:31 pm

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