Who’re the very best composers ever? We requested 174 of right now’s main composers that very query and right here, in their very own phrases, we current the fascinating outcomes and who they assume ought to be topped the best composer of all time.
How the well-known composers had been scored
‘Making choices in regards to the “biggest” this or that’s all the time problematic,’ replies composer Brian Ferneyhough, when BBC Music Journal asks him to call his biggest 5 composers in historical past. And, to be truthful, he has some extent. Can one actually evaluate figures who had been writing music 800 years aside? Or weigh the intricate craftmanship of a two-minute piano piece up in opposition to the grand imaginative and prescient that goes right into a four-hour opera?
Nonetheless, when confronted with the identical query, Ferneyhough gamely named his prime 5 biggest composers – as did 173 different main composers from throughout the globe.
To make clear issues, we set out the factors for greatness as follows:
- originality – to what extent did your chosen composers take music in new and thrilling instructions?
- affect – how enormously did they affect the musical scene each in their very own lifetime and in years/centuries to return?
- craftmanship – from a technical viewpoint, how brilliantly constructed is their music?
- sheer enjoyability – fairly merely, how a lot pleasure does their music offer you?
He we current the Prime 50 well-known composers, in descending order, with every well-known composer personally appraised by a kind of who voted for them.
The 50 greatest composers of all time
Russian virtuoso pianist, gifted melodist and one of many greats of late-Romanticism
John Rutter says:
Rachmaninov belongs to the aristocracy of composers. He by no means wrote a chunk of music until he had one thing to say and he by no means repeated himself; he by no means outstayed his welcome. No two of his piano items are alike, each creates its personal world. He lays his soul earlier than us in music just like the Second Symphony, but it’s noble as a lot as passionate.
His melodic invention is to die for, his harmonic flavour refined and immediately recognisable, his orchestration wealthy but by no means cloying. He has the reward of creating his music appear as if he’s talking simply to you.
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 4
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (piano); Philharmonia/Ettore Gracis (1957)
EMI 567 2382
German Romantic composer whose unstable thoughts spawned advanced masterpieces
Bent Sørensen says:
Bach and Mozart write excellent music, however there’s a fragile high quality to Schumann’s perfection. I grew up listening to violin concertos, as a result of my father performed the violin. There’s one thing about Schumann’s Violin Concerto; the music jogged my memory of myself. I really feel near Schumann, each personally and professionally.
Schumann: String Quartets Nos 1-3
Doric String Quartet
Chandos CHAN 10692
Serialist, modernist, conductor and founding father of Ensemble intercontemporain
Dai Fujikura says:
Boulez is solely the very best! Musically talking, not solely was he ground-breaking on the time, however his concord and sonority are all the time attractive – should you slice his music, each bit is gorgeous. He has achieved a lot for different composers, too, constructing establishments and shaping how up to date music is programmed in regular orchestral concert events.
Theologian, mystic and now a saint, Hildegard composed sacred monophony
Jessica Curry says:
I first found Hildegard’s music by the rave scene – Orbital’s 1991 trippy monitor Belfast makes use of an attractive pattern of O Euchari and I used to be immediately hooked. I finally came upon what the pattern was and Hildegard has remained a relentless companion ever since. As with all the very best music, I believe it’s unattainable to explain her work – it’s one thing that merely has be skilled. I’m a staunch atheist and but in some way her music is a elegant style of the divine.
English composer identified greatest for his sacred polyphonic choral works
Gabriel Jackson says:
From ornate Marian effusions to syllabic settings in English, Tallis’s music encompasses all the variety of types that had been required of a Sixteenth-century English composer because of the frequent modifications of monarch (and, subsequently, faith): it’s ecstatic, propulsive, luminous, florid (or easy), with a harmonic richness and melodic grace that could be very particular.
Whether or not easy four-part homophony or the advanced micropolyphony and dazzling sonic spectacle of Spem in alium, every little thing a composer concerned about choral music must study may be discovered right here.
Satie was an authentic thinker, dadaist, artist, pianist and creator of furnishings music
Gerald Barry says:
Simply as Beckett withdrew from Joyce to carve his personal world, Satie withdrew from Debussy to carve his. He got here out of nowhere – nothing like him earlier than or since. No marvel he wrote ‘furnishings music’ (background music). His music is Issues As They Are. His Vexations, to be performed 840 instances, would possibly as nicely be performed 1,000,000 instances.
It might go on till the world ends. Its unknowability, inscrutability and thriller permits that. His magnificent Socrate is like somebody strolling round a room pondering out loud, dictating to a poignantly indifferent typist.
Extra like this
German modernist; supporter of serialism; author of digital and aleatory music
Rolf Hind says:
That Stockhausen is on the entrance cowl of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album merely attests to his large attain within the Twentieth century. His personal Gesamtkunst contains language, know-how, dance, area and the planet. Stockhausen each benefited from the timing of his delivery (large funding in German radio stations, orchestras, know-how) and suffered for it (the challenges of being German within the Twentieth century) to imbue all influences in his music.
Like the nice obsessive German Sanskritists of the nineteenth century, he has come again from the brink with the important thing to extraordinary messages, discoveries from earlier than, and maybe past…
We named Stockhausen one of many biggest German composers of all time
43 Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021)
Stephen Sondheim was an American composer, tune author and director specialising in musical theatre
Paul Mealor says:
The very biggest composers are capable of maintain us in our darkest moments in addition to making us chortle and filling us with pleasure. For me, Sondheim is a kind of.
From essentially the most intense and sensible large-scale, dramatic buildings (comparable to Sweeney Todd or Assassins) to the lightest of melodies (A Little Night time Music), and from the best of chords (Into the Woods) to essentially the most dense harmonies (Follies), he has all of it. He’s intelligent with out tricking us, and by no means ‘writes down’ to us.
We named Sondheim one of many greatest musical theatre composers
The British conductor and composer was a well-liked Aldeburgh mentor
Charlotte Bray says:
Above all, it’s the craftsmanship that makes Knussen’s music necessary. Each observe and marking he made on the web page was impeccably heard. No piece was full till every little thing was exactly in place. His music is completely authentic and thrilling, infused with a way of journey and wit, and can encourage for years to return.
A part of the New Manchester College, Birtwistle combines delusion and modernism
Eleanor Alberga says:
Birtwistle’s music speaks in a voice completely its personal. The infinite re-invention and improvement as his music unfolds, along with the depth of the contrapuntal textures, take the ear on an completely unpredictable but all the time utterly immersive journey. Gawain and The Minotaur, the 2 operas I’m most accustomed to, enveloped me in a primeval soundworld. I felt viscerally amazed and brought to a greater ‘place’ consequently.
We named Harrison Birtwistle one of many greatest English composers of all time
Elgar is Britain’s symphonic grasp with a pure ear for craving melodies
Christopher Gunning says:
Is it even doable to envisage the English countryside with out listening to Elgar? To take particular person items, I might say that each one the variations of his Enigma Variations are excellent – not simply ‘Nimrod’ – and it is among the most interesting examples of that format ever written.
Elgar’s First Symphony, in the meantime, is among the most profoundly optimistic issues that has ever been written. It’s a piece that goes again to Brahms, or most likely pre-Brahms, and has that fantastic mixture of lyricism on the one hand and actual emotional striving on the opposite.
Italian operatic grasp whose enduring arias are beloved the world over
Qigang Chen says:
The 5 composers I voted for all have one thing in widespread: they had been unconcerned with maintaining with the newest fashions and had been comparatively free of outdoor affect. They had been, briefly, completely particular person. Verdi’s age coincided with the peak of Austro-Germanic rationalist dominance in philosophy, literature, and music, however he did with out such wonderful guiding rules.
He had no thinker buddies, however was a typical man, a farmer who retired to the countryside. True inventive vitality exists independently from the affect of worldly energy, and Verdi’s music has this type of specific high quality.
Richard Strauss was a ate-Romantic composer of richly scored tone poems and heady operas
Colin Matthews says:
It’s all too simple to miss Richard Strauss’s significance, however within the exceptional sequence of tone poems spanning 25 years, from Don Juan to the Alpine Symphony, he confirmed each an orchestral mastery and a exceptional capability for invention and structural innovation.
The operas Salome and Elektra are as stylistically superior as virtually something being written within the first decade of the Twentieth century. The music of Strauss’s final years – beginning with Capriccio in 1940, encompassing the 2 wind serenades, the Second Horn Concerto and the Oboe Concerto, and culminating within the 4 Final Songs – is among the many most excellent music of all time.
Tudor England’s choral nice William Byrd additionally composed dozens of refined keyboard works
Bob Chilcott says:
It took me some time to understand what a beautiful composer Byrd is. As a younger chorister the considered singing his ‘Nice’ Service crammed me with horror. Years later I listened endlessly to a recording of this piece by The Tallis Students and marvelled at its sonority and the tumbling counterpoint of the Nunc Dimittis. I later got here to know his Introduction motet Vigilate. There are tactile, sensual and deeply human components in his music that transmit superbly to the circulation of breath and to singing traces.
Anton Weburn was a twelve-tone serialist and key member of the Second Viennese College
Howard Skempton says:
What’s extraordinary is the integrity of Webern’s music. It has a form of class and energy in itself. It’s virtually as if he’s considering music like a mathematical formulation, attempting to work out what it would unlock. He reveals the opportunity of a unique musical panorama.
That’s what excited me once I first heard the Six Items for Orchestra in my late teenagers – I turned conscious that there was a completely new means of composing. He influenced the post-Struggle era, the serialists, experimental composers and, past that, the minimalists. His attain has been extraordinary.
35 Edgar Varèse (1883-1965)
Electro-acoustic pioneer and creator of ‘organised sound’
Brian Ferneyhough says:
Varèse’s Octandre was the primary ‘up to date’ work to make a deep and lasting impression on me when, aged 15, I got here throughout a partial recording at college. It struck me as unsentimental, sharp-contoured and authoritatively capricious. As a wind participant, I might recognize its talent in stretching every instrument simply past its regular consolation zone, whereas its intersections of advanced rhythmic and colouristic patterning appeared brilliantly realised.
A few years later, I wrote a piece based mostly on the precise ensemble utilized by Varèse, plus a solo violin. I’ve by no means understood why the Octandre instrumentation by no means turned a normal mixture, comparable to that of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire.
American composer who experimented with notation and length
Shiva Feshareki says:
Feldman’s music has its personal aesthetic and tempo. On the time of creation, his work appeared utterly unbiased, but in some way it shaped a bridge between many faculties of thought. In my thoughts, his music is like an intricate tapestry, which will get magnified till you expertise each factor of the work.
It requires dedication and focus, as usually his compositions final many hours. However finally, it’s as if the music has shifted your perspective on actuality. You’re modified, and also you assume and really feel with a broader perspective.
A part of the serialist collective, Berg’s music is full of ciphers and codes
Outi Tarkiainen says:
Alban Berg introduced into life the theoretical innovations of the Second Viennese College, creating 12-tone serialism that was not solely technically masterful and internally coherent, but additionally highly effective in expression and stuffed with inventive pleasure.
His music is an important hyperlink between eras – his types and teleology are fashionable but firmly drawing from the Romantic custom. Not like within the second half of the Twentieth century, right now’s up to date music is once more daring to use many components from the Romantic period, and so Berg’s affect continues to be completely related.
Ballets and biographical symphonies are on the coronary heart of this Russian Romantic’s work
Joby Talbot says:
For those who had been to greet some aliens who had landed and wished to know what classical music seemed like, you may do a lot worse than level them within the route of Tchaikovsky. To me, rising up, it was simply the quintessential, stunning, extraordinary, poetic and melodic orchestral and vocal music.
Tchaikovsky was clearly the grasp of melody, however I additionally love the heart-on-sleeve emotional palette and the rhythmic factor of his music. You take a look at the dynamic markings within the scores; he has every little thing from ppppp to fffff! As a child taking part in in orchestras it was like operating a marathon, however all the time with a way of inclusivity, enjoyable and mischief.
Chief of the American avant-garde; inventor of the ready piano
Gavin Bryars says:
For me, John Cage was one of many two main artists of the Twentieth century – the opposite being Marcel Duchamp. Each questioned what can depend as artwork and each pursued their questioning to essentially the most elementary stage, in Cage’s case by the rigours of his musical and philosophical pondering.
He took music again to the situation of zero with the so-called silent piece 4’33», however with a lightness of spirit that one might by no means discover in different areas of the avant-garde. I first met him in 1966 when he carried out in London with Merce Cunningham.
Witnessing the invention and class of their collaboration, I knew that this was what I wished to do, transferring away, as I used to be, from what I felt had been the confines of jazz and free improvisation. Cage’s music is consistently stunning, usually baffling and all the time liberating.
The sensible Polish composer and conductor was a famend orchestrator
Sebastian Fagerlund says:
I turned acquainted with Lutosławski’s music in my early teenage years. His Livre pour Orchestre has since then remained one of many scores I recurrently return to and by which I all the time discover one thing new. In Lutosławski’s orchestral works there’s a masterly management of the conception of time by the manipulation of timbre, texture and musical shapes and arcs.
What strikes me above all is what a humane composer he’s. Even in essentially the most aleatorically superior and texturally advanced sections, his music communicates with such directness. The music additionally feels concurrently playfully inviting, in addition to extremely expressive and acutely demanding of 1’s full consideration.
Prokofiev was a Russian composer who balanced Romanticism with a tough modernist model
Gabriel Prokofiev says:
I suppose individuals will assume I’m prejudiced to decide on my very own grandfather, however I believe my alternative is justified. Prokofiev has an unmistakable sound, such a singular voice, significantly in his catchy but quirky melodic writing and authentic method to concord; it’s virtually unattainable to mistake him for some other composer.
Prokofiev managed to proceed composing thrilling melodies proper up till the Fifties when virtually all different Twentieth-century composers had moved away from tonally rooted themes. His melodies nonetheless sounded contemporary and new.
Plus, after all, his music has had a large affect – Peter and the Wolf (one of many greatest items of classical music for kids) and Romeo and Juliet particularly have turn out to be a part of the worldwide musical canon past simply the realms of classical music.
Means forward of his time, the American composer invented fashionable music
Morten Lauridsen says:
Ives was probably essentially the most authentic composer in historical past, whose affect was solely felt years after his astonishing works turned identified – a pioneer in new instructions for orchestration, musical type, concord, textual content setting (particularly his 114 songs), rhythm, piano writing, tuning and extra, predating many composers who later experimented in these areas. His Three Locations in New England particularly stays a surprising mannequin of his improvements.
First-wave minimalist and composer of hypnotic movie music and opera
Oliver Davis says:
Regardless of the extraordinarily assorted types of Philip Glass’s output over time, as quickly as you hear his music you immediately realize it couldn’t be anybody else: his harmonic language is that particular and he has a unprecedented reward for melody.
Although minimalism is now a really accepted style, I’m wondering how tough it should have been as a younger composer within the Sixties to reject the assumed modernist path set by the likes of Stockhausen and Boulez, and as an alternative begin a brand new genus of music.
It should have taken monumental conviction and self perception. The result’s a singular and lasting repertoire of beautiful music that has credibility and common attraction. His enduring affect can’t be underestimated.
Gershwin was a flexible American composer-pianist who melded jazz and classical
His jazz-infused Rhapsody in Blue premiered on the holy grail of classical music, Carnegie Corridor, and whereas his wonderful opera Porgy and Bess could have opened on Broadway, it will definitely reached the Met and the Royal Opera Home. Above all, there’s the music itself: an incredible achievement. His distinctive model by no means fails to each intrigue and transfer me.
Schubert was an Austrian Romantic famed for his profound tune cycles and elegant sonatas
Stephen Hough says:
There are various causes we’d contemplate a composer nice: innovation and originality, or the sheer consistency that ends in many masterpieces.
However for me, Schubert’s distinctive stature, alongside these traits, is his capacity to talk to the human coronary heart in all its fragility and vulnerability. With out sentimentality or falsehood he reaches past the ears of his listeners to their hearts. We sense that he empathises with the deepest longings of our souls, but in some way nonetheless respects our boundaries.
After his physique started to interrupt down in sickness, his inspiration took flight. It was a excessive value for him, however for us, left along with his miraculous works, it’s a trove of priceless treasures.
Janáček is among the biggest Czech composers ever who memorialised folkloric traditions by magical music
Anna Meredith says:
I’ve all the time returned to Janáček’s music over time. There’s quite a lot of technical talent and his ear for orchestral color and pacing actually bounce out to me, however I believe it’s the boldness that I like, the theatricality and selection in his Sinfonietta, the humour in one thing like The Crafty Little Vixen, the massive dramatic shapes of the chamber items. I believe I as soon as heard him described as a ‘composer’s composer’, which I agree with as a result of I don’t know any composers who don’t like his music.
Nevertheless, that assertion might make his music appear to be one thing to be admired or studied, however I believe he’s a lot extra speedy than that. It takes quite a lot of talent to write down in a means that sounds so instinctive and contemporary, however that want to speak the id of every second is one thing that’s impressed me.
We additionally named Janáček one of many greatest opera composers ever
Murderous Italian choral composer with a style, too, for twisted harmonies
Elena Langer says:
I first heard Gesualdo’s music whereas finding out on the Moscow Conservatory and feeling suffocated by conference: outdated polyphony, Baroque, dodecaphony… Why did his 400-year-old music sound so contemporary, surprising and timeless?
Unbiased, passionate and flouting the foundations, Gesualdo discovered the right musical means to precise his tortured soul. Sliding chromatic voices all the time react exactly to their textual content, constructing into virtually Wagnerian harmonies. The best composers converse the musical language of their instances however rework it to say one thing necessary and distinctive. His madrigals are like actually intense brief operas.
Father of serialism, beautiful orchestrator and revered music theorist
Brian Elias says:
Schoenberg’s concepts have been immeasurably influential and his legacy nonetheless impacts us right now. His bravery and integrity are second to none; he found a brand new system of composition that has since proved to have its limitations however, on the identical time, he initiated new and radical methods of fascinated with how music is and ought to be composed. For therefore many composers of my era, works comparable to Pierrot Lunaire and the Three Piano Items Op. 11 stay pinnacles of inventive creativeness and originality.
Pastoral scenes and Tudor influences are to the fore on this English composer’s output
David Bednall says:
For me, the ability of Vaughan Williams’s music is its emotional directness and expressive energy. His soundworld is so distinctive that you recognize instantly who the composer is, and but it appears infinitely variable – merely evaluate his Fourth Symphony along with his Fifth, for instance.
It additionally has that high quality of seeming to be very private and for all its technical brilliance and talent, it was written so that you can perceive. There may be additionally that unbelievable capacity to mix the traditional and new into a singular combine which is neither one or the opposite however might solely be RVW. The Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis is the obvious instance of this.
We named Vaughan Williams one of many biggest English composers of all time
Polish Romantic whose colossal output remodeled the piano repertoire
Jake Heggie says:
Only a few notes and you recognize it’s him: a singular, indelible, impressed soul whose profoundly stunning, courageous, impeccably crafted music resonates throughout time and tradition. Is there anybody like Chopin? He didn’t write symphonies or operas; he knew the place his presents lay and relentlessly explored the technical and expressive potentialities inside that realm.
He has been the gateway and inspiration for thousands and thousands of pianists, lecturers and composers of all stripes. His humanity walked me by the hardest instances of my life: my father’s suicide, popping out in the course of the AIDS disaster, the hand harm that modified the course of my life. Chopin was all the time there with me.
Learn our evaluations of the newest Chopin recordings right here
American minimalist, knowledgeable crafter of unpolluted traces and propulsive melodies
Stewart Copeland says:
Steve Reich may very well be thought to be the saviour of recent classical music. Someplace in the midst of the Twentieth century, the concept took maintain amongst even the very best composers that music sophistication equals ache. Reich himself began with mental excessive idea, however then landed on one thing that allowed him to take a unique route: easy magnificence. His minimalism eschews guidelines of construction, type, contour and rhythm.
A Romantic composing large of wealthy, ripe textures and winsome melodies
Mark Simpson says:
The most effective of Brahms exists within the moments when he transcends his grounded, earthy sense of being and take us to the next state of non secular consciousness – the passage between the human and the non secular world. He was in essence deeply human but additionally had a developed non secular facet that he had entry to. It’s this striving for the next state of expressive consciousness that I take most from his work.
17 Kaija Saariaho (b1952)
Finnish composer working throughout electro-serialist and spectralist fields
Anna Thorvaldsdottir says:
Kaija Saariaho is among the monumental composers of our time. There are such a lot of fantastic issues that may be mentioned about her music, particularly her nice items for bigger forces – lots of that are private favourites. As well as, I really feel that the highly effective presence of her music over time has been significantly necessary as a task mannequin for youthful generations, not least for younger ladies in music that discover inspiration and encouragement in such a compelling composer. This multifaceted affect will, doubtless, stick with it to form the music of the longer term.
Symphonic pioneer who performed a key function within the improvement of chamber music
Rodney Newton says:
The daddy of the symphony and the string quartet, ‘Papa’ Haydn laid the foundations for the event of those types, and his inventiveness and originality had been the inspiration and mannequin for numerous others.
As with JS Bach, the fecundity of Haydn’s output and its vary is staggering. From the viewpoint of sheer enjoyment, he has few parallels – his humanity bubbles out of each work. And as a fellow composer as soon as suggested me, ‘If you wish to study to write down melodies, examine Haydn!’
15 Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-75)
Put up-Romantic composer of large-scale symphonies, orchestral works and opera
Danny Elfman says:
My first encounters with Shostakovich turned my musical perspective the other way up. His Eighth String Quartet, as an example, hit me with such pressure. The opening four-note motif made an instantaneous connection to me because it developed into essentially the most soulful and heartbreaking melody I had ever heard.
Then, the way in which he twists and turns that motif, exposing and hiding it all through the quartet, appeared like an unattainable magic trick… slowly winding down on the finish to depart simply the pure unadorned melodies, with a sense of pristine, stunning hopelessness. As I received deeper into his music, I discovered sure components coexisting: ardour, impeccable craftsmanship, enthusiasm which may very well be virtually giddy, darkness bumping into humour and pure soulfulness that enriches the world of the listener.
Hungarian folks music clashes thrillingly with angular modernism
Michael Berkeley says:
Bartók is for me an unsung hero. His six string quartets are the best cycle since Beethoven’s and in them he revolutionised writing for string devices. However the extraordinary sounds he achieves are completely natural and essential to the sensibility of the music. On a bigger scale, I might like to see two masterpieces coupled in a double invoice on the Royal Opera Home, with the opera doing Bluebeard’s Citadel and the ballet doing Miraculous Mandarin – each scores of terrifying energy and imaginative and prescient.
In his music, the French composer appears to be like to serialism, gamelan and birdsong
Roxanna Panufnik says:
Through the years, my admiration for Messiaen has grown and grown – from my first publicity to his kaleidoscopic concord throughout my music school days to electrifying reside performances of his timeless Turangalîla Symphony in later years. His spirituality seers by my soul as his majestic and ethereal chords mix and morph in reverent church acoustics.
Then I found he, like me, had synaesthesia (which, for him, meant he noticed colors when he heard sounds) and my attraction to his music made much more sense. Fortunately, he has left us such an epic physique of labor, I’ve a lot extra discovering to sit up for.
Brooding Finnish landscapes and historic folklore captured in vivid color
Anthony Payne says:
My faculty’s gramophone society as soon as placed on the Koussevitzky recording of Sibelius’s Second Symphony and it blew me away. On the time, I couldn’t say why, however the musical language spoke to me in my then state of partial ignorance. There’s one thing northern and highly effective about Sibelius. But it surely’s the concept of narrative development in his music that basically grabs me – the way in which he begins with an thought or a motif and permits it to develop.
Within the Seventh Symphony, the trombone solo returns thrice, every time altered; you possibly can recognise the fabric all through and listen to it rising. Sibelius additionally makes references to classical types, however they’re utterly newly aligned, as within the first motion of the Second Symphony or the tone poems comparable to Tapiola, which I believe is among the nice works of all time.
English composer of choral works, opera and tune; Aldeburgh competition founder
Cheryl Frances-Hoad says:
The primary ‘fashionable’ music that I keep in mind discovering was by Britten – as an eight year-old making an attempt to play his Tema ‘Sacher’ on my cello. Ever since, his music has enthralled me, and it’s usually to his scores that I’ll flip to for compositional ‘recommendation’. To me, his music is the right marriage of emotion and craft, with each compositional factor working collectively to contribute to the music’s expressive energy. If I had been solely allowed to pay attention to 1 piece for the remainder of my life, I might select his Les Illuminations.
Prime 10 classical composers of all time
The Italian whose musical fertility remodeled each musical style
Eric Whitacre says:
Monteverdi was a maverick and visionary, single-handedly altering musical paradigms. His contribution to the event of an entire new style, opera, was incalculable. Human emotion turned a supply of inspiration and music a way to precise human passions. Abandoning educational guidelines and musical preconceptions, he created ground-breaking works for many years, bridging Renaissance and Baroque – apparently effortlessly. Above all else, Monteverdi wrote supremely well-crafted and deeply stunning music that could be a pleasure to listen to.
French impressionist notable for his vibrant pianism and use of repetition
Judith Bingham says:
Each musically and as an individual, Ravel has all the time appeared extraordinarily mysterious to me. He jogs my memory of the French Baroque painter, Watteau (whose work impressed him) – intensely stunning, however the image’s that means is all the time barely out of attain. Le Tombeau de Couperin, written throughout World Struggle I to memorialise buddies who had been killed and within the interval of his mom’s decline and demise, could be very light-hearted, as if he wished to wind again time.
After all, all his music is extremely authentic: the timbres are used to enchant. He has the weird talent, perhaps not intentionally, of writing music that may be listened to with equal satisfaction by adults and youngsters.
Composer of epic, large-scale operas; inventor of Gesamtkunstwerk
Jonathan Dove says:
The dimensions of Wagner’s creativeness is overwhelming. The Ring particularly is an immense imaginative and prescient of a piece that lasts greater than 15 hours (plus intervals), and he had the tenacity and self-belief to spend 26 years writing it. He created spectacular musical imagery of unsurpassed vividness, and had a revolutionary method to reminiscence and time. Whether or not you discover his music poisonous or intoxicating, you possibly can’t ignore it.
His mighty Romantic symphonies embrace the entire of humanity
David Matthews says:
Mahler composed among the biggest symphonies since Beethoven, written with an astonishing command of all features of compositional approach. Mahler was a Romantic, however he couldn’t share Beethoven’s early Romantic optimism; his is a contemporary method, stuffed with doubts and uncertainties but rarely falling into despair. The seek for that means isn’t absent, and in addition to its passionate striving, Mahler’s music is usually stuffed with uninhibited pleasure. Because of this I believe it has such attraction in our personal darkish time.
The Hungarian-Austrian avant-gardist and polyrhythmic pioneer
John Casken says:
Ligeti is a most intriguing composer, and one whose creativeness is nearly limitless. Together with Lutosławski within the Sixties, he confirmed us the best way to pay attention afresh to concord and beguiled us with magical textures. He teases and performs with our expectations in a weird world of unusual juxtapositions, tragi-comic extremes and intentionally faltering mechanisms.
At one second the music is inside our grasp and the subsequent it’s out of attain. I like the enjoyment and enthusiasm however, on the identical time, the pathos and profundity of the Horn Trio, and the lamenting and ghostly ocarinas within the Piano Concerto are virtually insufferable. His Études for Piano, in the meantime, appear to mirror one thing past human notion. Right here, and in so many different methods, he touches on the very human query of ‘what’s actual and what’s not?’.
Creator of lyrical melodies, poetic piano works and chamber music
Jennifer Higdon says:
Gentle and air imbue the areas between the notes of Claude Debussy’s music. Whilst a younger little one – lengthy earlier than I began down the trail of music – his works would all the time carry me to a standstill. I used to be completely fascinated by what felt like some form of magic, descending on the air. Now, as somebody who works in the identical subject, I’m able to say that Debussy’s music appears like a lightweight breeze, leaving a delicate impression however with sufficient presence to nonetheless encourage me to cease and pay attention – the artistry of this ‘insurgent’ composer nonetheless sounds contemporary.
Prodigious and prolific, the Austrian composer outlined the Classical period
Augusta Learn Thomas says:
To me, Mozart’s works have an inevitability that’s pure and sincere, humane, human, infinitely compelling, wealthy, sonorous and technically fabulous; his music is at instances humorous, at instances gut-wrenchingly transferring. In some ways, the physique of labor that poured out of him in his temporary 35 years of life appears like pure magic, and it’s unbelievable how such a younger man was capable of assimilate the deepest riches of music and its potentialities.
But his works are so contemporary: he’s not simply understanding music historical past and regurgitating it – his works sound like him, at the same time as his model developed and blossomed. And his affect on the following historical past of music is completely profound.
Straddling Classical and Romanticism, his wide-ranging music dominated his period
John Corigliano says:
As a composer, my objective is to realize the right stability between the visceral and the cerebral components in my music. This can be very necessary to me that the listener is drawn into the drama of my work, however equally necessary that there are various layers of fabric that may be found with repeated listening. There are various nice composers that attempt to obtain this objective, and a few come very near it.
There are additionally many nice composers which have little interest in this delicate stability. However for me, Ludwig van Beethoven is the one composer that makes music so pressing that one is straight away drawn to it, so highly effective that one can hardly resist it and but so richly layered that one won’t ever totally plumb the depths of its wondrous constructions. There is no such thing as a one like him.
Thea Musgrave says:
For an instance of what excites me about Beethoven, take the final motion of his Eighth Symphony. It begins in F main then all of the sudden the music is interrupted with a startling and unexplained C sharp performed forte. The music then resumes virtually as if nothing has occurred! The ‘clarification’ solely comes within the coda a number of minutes later – a beautiful instance of ‘long-range’ harmonic planning. This led me as a composer to consider even my non-programmatic music in dramatic narratives and gestures.
You may learn our evaluations of the newest Beethoven recordings right here
Russian iconoclast whose built-in method to artwork has stood the take a look at of time
Mark-Anthony Turnage says:
I suppose in some ways I’m obsessive about Iggy (as Hans Werner Henze used to name him). Each observe is so superbly positioned; nothing jars or is superfluous. It strikes me, as a result of like Bach it’s so exact. I like the concord, the Russian inflected melodies, the vitality and brilliance.
Whether or not it’s the serene chords that transfer with the bass line on the finish of Symphony of Psalms, the keening on the opening of Symphonies of Wind Devices and every little thing in between, together with the a lot maligned neo-classical works, it’s all fantastic. As a composer he’s there in my life, looming over me however by no means an awesome presence; all the time cheeky and inspiring. His music makes me so comfortable, particularly on darkish days. I like Igor Stravinsky.
Edward Gregson says:
The Ceremony of Spring has proved to be the true delivery of modernism, greater than Schoenberg’s music ever was. And, somewhat like Picasso, Stravinsky always reinvented himself and his musical language, although his model remained fixed – his twelve-tone system sounds as Stravinskian as any of his earlier work. There should not many composers since who haven’t been influenced by his inventive creativeness. He’s the godfather of Twentieth-century music.
And the best composer ever is…
May the very best composer on the planet be anybody else apart from JS Bach? Johann Sebastian Bach tops the listing with music of breathtaking brilliance.
All hail JS Bach, whose spirit dwells in virtually each observe written since his demise. With supreme contrapuntal talent, Bach sculpts music of excellent type and stability, bestowing it with an emotional energy that has echoed by the centuries. From the aching great thing about the cello suites and the bewildering ambition of the keyboard works to the dramatic pressure of the cantatas, nobody has, and will probably, come near Bach‘s genius
Steve Reich says:
Bach to me is the best composer who ever lived, the genius who created essentially the most stunning counterpoint I’ve ever heard, plus the fundamental aria of the Goldberg Variations the place I’m decreased to tears. I first heard Bach’s Fifth Brandenburg Concerto as an adolescent in 1950, shortly after first listening to Stravinsky’s The Ceremony of Spring. The 2 items set me on my means. As a scholar, together with everybody else, Bach’s four-part chorales had been important to my examine of concord.
A lot later, I studied his Cantata No. 4 whereas composing Tehillim. You may hear my indebtedness to Bach’s second motion when listening to my third. They each have call-and-response construction in addition to totally different instrumental doubling of the voices to make clear the decision from the response. Extra lately for me, the Fifth Brandenburg served as a mannequin for the Concerto grosso, the place a number of devices are soloists – it prompted my Music for Ensemble and Orchestra the place there are 22 soloists, all common members of the orchestra.
Erkki-Sven Tüür says:
It might be seen as virtually a cliché amongst music lovers to contemplate Bach a king of music, however for me it was an apparent alternative. What strikes me most in Bach’s work is how completely his music is structured by way of mathematic precision. The great thing about its internal structure reveals a sort of cosmologic order, a contact of the divine.
I’m amazed by the unbelievable synergy of the counterpoint and concord and the way in which that the horizontal and vertical are linked right into a coherent entire. Alternatively, with none particular information of those technical features, the purely sonic results of his music touches the listener deeply in essentially the most mysterious means.
Unsuk Chin says:
Bach’s music shows nice feelings and fiery temperament, whereas being the very best conceivable summit of composition as an mental artwork. It’s a synthesis of previous music and the creations of his personal time in addition to a daring imaginative and prescient of the longer term. As much as Bach, musical works disappeared after a premiere or, no less than, after a composer’s demise.
Bach was too grand to be ignored. Nice musical minds as numerous as Beethoven, Chopin, the masters of jazz, Boulez – and numerous others – are unthinkable with out Bach’s legacy. The avant-garde composer Mauricio Kagel famously quipped that ‘not all musicians consider in God, however all of them consider in Johann Sebastian Bach’.