Top 10 Classic FM Hall of Fame 2023 – Ranking the Best

Classic FM Hall of Fame 2023

The Classic FM Hall of Fame is an annual event that culminates in a countdown of the 300 most popular pieces of classical music, as voted for by listeners of the UK-based radio station Classic FM. The event has become an important part of the classical music calendar and provides a snapshot of the nation’s changing tastes in classical music. This year’s Hall of Fame saw Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 return to the top spot, ending The Lark Ascending’s 10-year reign as the nation’s favourite piece of classical music. The Piano Concerto No. 2, composed by Sergei Rachmaninov, is a beloved classic of the piano repertoire known for its sweeping melodies and virtuosic piano writing.  Film music now represents 12% of the total chart, reflecting its continued popularity and ability to capture both new and established listeners.

Additionally, the Hall of Fame also highlighted the growing popularity of music by female composers, with works by greats such as Florence Price and modern-day composers like Debbie Wiseman and Yoko Shimomura appearing in the chart. Alexander Armstrong, host of Classic FM, remarked on the changing tastes reflected in this year’s Hall of Fame, which celebrates classical music as a genre for everyone. The event provides a unique insight into the nation’s musical preferences and serves as a reminder of the enduring power of classical music to captivate and inspire listeners of all ages and backgrounds.

Top 10 Classic FM Hall of Fame 2023

Here is the list of the top 10 Classic FM Hall of Fame 2023:






Piano Concerto No.2


Vaughan Williams 

The Lark Ascending


Vaughan Williams 

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis



Enigma Variations



The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace



Piano Concerto No. 5 (‘Emperor’)



The Planets Suite



Symphony No.9 (‘Choral’)






Schindler’s List


1. Rachmaninov – Piano Concerto No.2

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2 is a celebrated work of the Romantic era, known for its sweeping melodies, virtuosic piano writing, and lush orchestration. Composed between 1900 and 1901, it consists of three movements. The first movement, marked Moderato, features a hauntingly beautiful melody introduced by the piano and accompanied by the strings, which builds in intensity as the movement progresses. The second movement, Adagio sostenuto, is a slow and lyrical interlude marked by a rich, singing melody in the strings that the piano takes up and embellishes. The final movement, Allegro scherzando, is a lively and energetic romp showcasing the soloist’s virtuosity with a jaunty, syncopated theme that is developed through variations and increasingly complex rhythms. Throughout the concerto, Rachmaninoff displays his skill as both composer and pianist, using complex harmonies and intricate melodies to create a piece that is both emotionally stirring and technically impressive. As a result, it has become a beloved and popular work among audiences and performers alike.

2. Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending

“The Lark Ascending” is a musical composition by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. It is a tone poem for violin and orchestra, inspired by a poem of the same name by the English poet George Meredith. The piece was composed in 1914 and revised several times over the following decade, with the final version premiered in 1921. The piece begins with a soft, dreamlike introduction, featuring woodwinds and strings. The solo violin then enters, playing a soaring, lyrical melody that evokes the flight of a lark. The music gradually builds in intensity, with the orchestra providing a rich and colorful backdrop to the violin’s virtuosic flights. The piece is notable for its use of folk-like melodies and modal harmonies, which give it a distinctly English flavor. It is also characterized by its pastoral beauty and sense of tranquility, making it a favorite of audiences and performers alike. “The Lark Ascending” is often regarded as one of Vaughan Williams’ greatest works, and is considered a masterpiece of English music. It has been recorded by many notable violinists, including Nigel Kennedy, Hilary Hahn, and Janine Jansen, and is frequently performed in concert halls around the world.

3. Vaughan Williams – Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

“Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” is a composition for string orchestra by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. The piece was composed in 1910 and is considered one of Vaughan Williams’ masterpieces, demonstrating his unique approach to harmony and orchestration. The piece is based on a melody by the English composer Thomas Tallis, which Vaughan Williams discovered in an Elizabethan manuscript. The work is divided into three main sections, each based on variations of the Tallis melody. The opening section is marked by a solemn and reverent character, with the melody played in the lower strings. The second section features a solo quartet that introduces a more complex and harmonically rich version of the melody. The third section builds in intensity and features the full orchestra, with the melody played in canon by the different string sections.

“Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” is notable for its use of lush, harmonically complex chords and its innovative approach to orchestration. Vaughan Williams divides the string orchestra into three separate groups, each with its own conductor, allowing for a rich and complex interplay of sound. The piece has become a cornerstone of the English string orchestra repertoire and is often performed in concerts and recordings around the world. Its hauntingly beautiful melody and innovative approach to harmony and orchestration have made it a favorite of audiences and performers alike.

4. Elgar – Enigma Variations

“Enigma Variations” is a composition for orchestra by the English composer Edward Elgar. The piece was composed between 1898 and 1899 and is one of Elgar’s most popular and enduring works. The piece consists of a theme and fourteen variations, each dedicated to a friend or family member of Elgar’s. The theme itself is a simple melody that Elgar claimed contained a “dark saying,” or “enigma,” that he never revealed. The variations that follow are musical portraits of the various individuals to whom they are dedicated, each with its own distinctive character and mood. The variations range from the playful and lighthearted to the grand and majestic, showcasing Elgar’s skill at orchestration and his ability to convey a wide range of emotions through music. The ninth variation, “Nimrod,” is particularly famous for its soaring, noble melody and its depiction of the deep friendship between Elgar and his publisher, Augustus J. Jaeger. “Enigma Variations” was an immediate success when it was first performed in 1899 and has remained a beloved work in the orchestral repertoire ever since. It has been recorded and performed by countless orchestras and conductors around the world and is considered a masterpiece of English music.

5. Jenkins – The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace

“The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” is a choral work by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins. The piece was commissioned by the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, England, to commemorate the start of the new millennium and was first performed in 2000. The piece is a setting of the traditional Catholic Mass, with additional texts and musical elements added by Jenkins to explore the theme of war and the quest for peace. The work combines elements of classical music with world music, featuring percussion instruments from different cultures and incorporating texts from various traditions, including the Islamic call to prayer and the Mahabharata. “The Armed Man” is a powerful and emotionally charged work, with moments of intense drama and moments of quiet reflection. The opening movement, “The Armed Man,” sets the tone with a martial rhythm and a haunting melody sung by the choir. The work also features soloists, including a soprano solo in the movement “Sanctus,” which provides a moment of transcendent beauty and peace. The work has become one of Jenkins’ most famous and beloved compositions, known for its powerful message of peace and its ability to bring together diverse musical and cultural traditions.

6. Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 5 (‘Emperor’)

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, also known as the “Emperor” Concerto, is one of his most celebrated and monumental works. It was composed between 1809 and 1811, during a tumultuous period in Beethoven’s life that included personal struggles and the upheaval of the Napoleonic Wars. The piece is scored for piano soloist and orchestra and consists of three movements. The opening movement, marked Allegro, is a grand and majestic introduction, with the orchestra introducing the main themes that the soloist takes up and develops. The second movement, marked Adagio un poco mosso, is a slow and lyrical interlude, with the piano and orchestra trading melodic lines in a conversation-like manner. The third movement, marked Rondo: Allegro, is a lively and virtuosic romp that showcases the soloist’s technical prowess and musical creativity.

The “Emperor” Concerto is notable for its grandeur, its virtuosic piano writing, and its innovative use of form and structure. Beethoven’s use of the orchestra to introduce and develop themes was a departure from the traditional concerto style of the time, and his use of the piano as an equal partner with the orchestra was groundbreaking. The piece is also notable for its use of grand and dramatic gestures, which reflect the turbulent times in which it was composed. The “Emperor” Concerto is a beloved and popular work among performers and audiences alike. It has been recorded by countless pianists and orchestras, and its majestic themes and grandeur have made it a staple of the orchestral repertoire.

7. Holst – The Planets Suite

“The Planets Suite” is a seven-movement orchestral work by English composer Gustav Holst. The piece was composed between 1914 and 1916 and premiered in 1918. Each movement is named after a planet in the solar system and is intended to evoke the character and mythology associated with that planet. The first movement, “Mars, the Bringer of War,” is a powerful and aggressive depiction of the god of war, with pounding rhythms and brass fanfares. The second movement, “Venus, the Bringer of Peace,” is a tranquil and serene depiction of the goddess of love, with a lush and ethereal string melody. The third movement, “Mercury, the Winged Messenger,” is a playful and light-hearted scherzo, with a fleet and nimble orchestration that suggests the swiftness of the messenger god. The fourth movement, “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity,” is a celebratory and majestic depiction of the king of the gods, with a grand and joyful main theme that has become one of Holst’s most famous melodies.

The fifth movement, “Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age,” is a somber and reflective depiction of the god of time, with a slow and mournful orchestration that suggests the passing of time and the inevitability of mortality. The sixth movement, “Uranus, the Magician,” is a mysterious and otherworldly depiction of the god of the sky, with an unusual and dissonant orchestration that suggests the unpredictable and elusive nature of magic. The final movement, “Neptune, the Mystic,” is a haunting and ethereal depiction of the god of the sea, with a wordless women’s choir and a distant and shimmering orchestration that suggests the vast and mysterious depths of the ocean. “The Planets Suite” is a beloved and iconic work in the orchestral repertoire, known for its inventive use of orchestration and its ability to evoke a range of moods and emotions. It has been recorded by many acclaimed orchestras and conductors and remains one of Holst’s most famous and enduring compositions.

8. Beethoven – Symphony No.9 (‘Choral’)

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, also known as the “Choral” Symphony, is a monumental work that represents one of the composer’s crowning achievements. It was composed between 1818 and 1824, and was premiered in Vienna in May of 1824. The symphony is scored for orchestra, soloists, and choir, and is notable for its use of a chorus in the final movement, which sets a poem by Friedrich Schiller to music. The opening movement is marked Allegro ma non troppo, and is a powerful and dramatic introduction that sets the tone for the entire work. The second movement, marked Molto vivace, is a scherzo that features a lively and energetic theme that is passed between the various sections of the orchestra. The third movement, marked Adagio molto e cantabile, is a slow and lyrical interlude that features a soaring and expressive melody.

The fourth and final movement, marked Presto – Allegro ma non troppo – Vivace – Adagio cantabile – Allegro assai – Presto, is a grand and triumphant conclusion to the symphony. The movement begins with a series of instrumental variations on the main theme, before the choir enters with the famous “Ode to Joy” text. The choir and soloists then take turns with the text, before the symphony builds to a powerful and exultant conclusion. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is widely regarded as one of the greatest works in the Western classical tradition, and is known for its innovative use of the orchestra, its powerful emotional impact, and its revolutionary use of a chorus in a symphony. It has been recorded by countless orchestras and conductors, and remains a beloved and iconic work that continues to inspire and move audiences to this day.

9. Allegri – Miserere

“Miserere” is a choral composition by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri. The work is scored for a choir of four voice parts (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass), and is known for its hauntingly beautiful melody and intricate harmonies. The piece was originally composed in the 1630s for use in the Sistine Chapel during the Holy Week liturgies, and was closely guarded by the Vatican for many years. It was forbidden to transcribe or perform the piece outside of the Sistine Chapel, and anyone caught doing so could face excommunication. Despite this, the piece was famously transcribed by a young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart during a visit to Rome in 1770. The transcription helped to spread the fame of the piece throughout Europe, and it soon became one of the most famous and beloved works in the choral repertoire.

The music of “Miserere” is based on the text of Psalm 51, which is a prayer of repentance and forgiveness. The piece features a series of solos and choral sections, with the voices weaving together in intricate harmonies and intricate counterpoint. The high point of the piece is the soaring soprano solo, which reaches a breathtakingly high note that is known as the “top C.” “Miserere” remains one of the most famous and beloved works in the choral repertoire, and is known for its beauty, complexity, and emotional impact. The work has been recorded by many acclaimed choirs and conductors, and continues to inspire and move listeners to this day.

10. Williams – Schindler’s List

“Schindler’s List” is a musical composition by the American composer John Williams. It was written as the main theme for the 1993 film of the same name, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. The theme is a hauntingly beautiful melody that is played on the violin, with a mournful and somber quality that perfectly captures the sadness and tragedy of the film’s subject matter. The violin solo is accompanied by a simple piano accompaniment and the occasional use of a solo cello and viola, creating a sense of intimacy and delicacy. The piece has become one of John Williams’ most famous and iconic compositions, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest film scores of all time. It has been recorded and performed by many renowned violinists, and has become a staple of classical and film music concerts around the world. In addition to its musical qualities, “Schindler’s List” has become an important symbol of remembrance and commemoration for the victims of the Holocaust. The film and its music have helped to raise awareness of the atrocities committed during that period, and have inspired many people to work towards promoting peace, tolerance, and understanding in the world.

Classic FM Hall of Fame

The Classic FM Hall of Fame is an annual event in which classical music lovers are invited to vote for their favorite classical music pieces. The poll is open to everyone, and participants are encouraged to vote for up to three pieces of music each year. The event is organized by Classic FM, a UK-based radio station that is dedicated to classical music. The station was launched in 1992 and has since become one of the most popular classical music broadcasters in the world, with millions of listeners tuning in each week. The Classic FM Hall of Fame has become a much-anticipated event in the classical music calendar, and attracts a wide range of participants, from casual listeners to professional musicians and music critics. The poll features a diverse range of music, from well-known classical masterpieces to lesser-known gems and contemporary works.

Each year, the results of the poll are announced in a special broadcast on Classic FM, with the top 300 pieces of music played over the course of the weekend. The event serves as a celebration of classical music and its enduring popularity, and provides an opportunity for listeners to discover new works and composers. Over the years, the Classic FM Hall of Fame has become an important barometer of the popularity of classical music in the UK and beyond, and has helped to introduce new audiences to the world of classical music. The event serves as a reminder of the power of music to inspire and move people, and its enduring appeal to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

What is Classic FM Number 1 2023?

After all the votes were tallied, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 emerged as the clear winner, taking the top spot in the Hall of Fame. The piece, which was composed by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov in 1901, is a beloved classic of the piano repertoire and is known for its lush melodies and virtuosic piano writing. The Piano Concerto No. 2 has long been a favorite of audiences and performers alike, and its enduring popularity is a testament to its beauty and emotional power. The piece has been recorded countless times by some of the greatest pianists in history, and remains a staple of the concert repertoire. The success of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in this year’s Hall of Fame is a testament to the enduring popularity of classical music and its ability to capture the hearts and minds of people from all walks of life. The event serves as a celebration of the rich and diverse world of classical music, and a reminder of its timeless appeal.

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