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The Sound of Success: Who Topped the Classical World in 2023?

Berliner Philharmoniker

Who’s leading the musical ensemble? Which orchestra shines the brightest? Dive into the melodic world of top orchestras and conductors, as we unveil the results from the world’s foremost classical music critics.


The Great Debate: Best Orchestras & Conductors

The million-dollar question – which is the greatest orchestra? Who wears the crown of the top conductor? Everyone’s got an opinion, right? Let’s jazz it up by asking the experts!

In 2015, Bachtrack stirred the pot by polling global music critics. Fast forward eight years (and, oh, a pandemic later!), and we’re back at it, keen to gauge the contemporary pulse.

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With modern technology’s boom, 15 critics across 11 countries could virtually enjoy global performances with a single click. So, while streaming bridged global gaps, did it shift the critic consensus? Let’s unpack.

The Art of Ranking

When we say “greatness” in music, it’s kind of a nebulous term, isn’t it? We kept things open-ended, but some critics spilled the beans on their criteria. For Alex Ross, imaginative programming was as vital as the music’s sheer brilliance. Dr. Eleonore Büning had an insightful point – an orchestra’s unity and cohesion makes it extraordinary. Walter Weidringer believes an orchestra’s unique sound identity and adaptability play a role, while Christian Merlin combines historical roots and modernity to gauge.

The Orchestra Leaderboard

Did 2023 see an orchestral upheaval? Spoiler alert: not really. Berlin Philharmonic is still the crowd-favorite. Why, you ask? Well, their global presence via the Digital Concert Hall certainly doesn’t hurt. Central European orchestras, in general, stole the limelight. From the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic to the Budapest Festival Orchestra – Europe’s clearly got game!

Speaking of conductors, Sir Simon Rattle remains a favorite, but Kirill Petrenko jumped to the top in 2023. The man’s magic with complex scores is truly mesmerizing!

On the Horizon: Future Stars

A slight bummer, no female conductor made the top ten cut this time. However, keep your eyes peeled for Susanna Mälkki, Joana Mallwitz, and Karina Canellakis. We’re placing our bets they’ll make waves in upcoming years.

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