Karl Jenkins has broken records, achieving over 1000 weeks in the UK classical charts with his much-performed work The Armed Man.
As of May 2023, The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace made chart history, with the acclaimed recording breaking the 1000th week barrier in the UK Official Albums Chart. Over more than 20 years the oratorio has become a timeless classic as it continues to capture the hearts of listeners and performers around the world. Based on the 15th century French poem, L’homme armé, the work remains a powerful and moving reflection on the horror of war and its consequences.
The world premiere of The Armed Man, commissioned by the Royal Armouries to mark the millennium, took place in the year 2000 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, featuring The National Youth Choir of Great Britain with Julian Lloyd Webber as cello soloist. Since then, it has received close to 3000 performances across the globe (averaging over two per week), including a performance at Lincoln Center in New York on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, conducted by the composer. The studio recording, featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra, along with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, was originally released in September 2001. The work has since featured regularly in the ‘Classic FM Hall of Fame’, having just charted at its highest ever position at No.5. Karl Jenkins becomes the highest-ranking living composer in this year’s poll, with The Armed Man securing its position as one of the nation’s favourite pieces of classical music.
“When I wrote The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace in 1999, little did I imagine that in 2023 we would be celebrating 1000 weeks in the UK classical chart and nearly 3000 performances worldwide. I am deeply honoured that it has touched so many people over the years; thank you to The Royal Armouries and Classic FM who commissioned me to write it, and to all those who have performed it and listened to my recording. I’m sad to say there has been no let-up in war and conflict since I dedicated the piece to the victims of Kosovo, but we continue to make music in remembrance of those who have perished and in the hope that humanity can find a way to heal” – Sir Karl.