25 of the Most Celebrated Composers In History

Posted by on February 18, 2013

If it weren’t for music we would undoubtedly have a very dull existence. The way it affects emotion, moods, and conveys ideas make it one of the most powerful and intimate artistic mediums in the world. We identify with the music we like and through it feel a connection with the people who wrote it. Although we all have our personal tastes there are some pieces and genres that are almost objectively above the rest. These are the men behind those pieces. These are 25 of the most celebrated composers in history.


Ludwig van Beethoven

BeethovenBeethoven started going deaf at the turn of the century and it became sadly apparent that he could not always hear what he played. After 1819, all conversations with him had to be written down.

Antonio Vivaldi

Antonio VivaldiLike Mozart, Vivaldi died in poverty, in an unmarked grave. Both composers were similar in how they achieved greatness in their composition and popularity, yet failed to secure financial greatness.

Aaron Copland

Aaron CoplandInstrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, he was widely known as “the dean of American composers”.

Franz Joseph Haydn

Franz Joseph HaydnAnyone who can write 108 symphonies makes this list.

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Peter Ilyich TchaikovskyInteresting fact: he hated writing The Nutcracker, undoubtedly his most famous work.

Carl Nielson

Carl NielsonUndoubtedly Denmark’s most famous composer he went against his roots and added foreign, romantic flavors to his music.

Gustav Mahler

Gustav MahlerSometimes called “the symphonist of death”, he only wrote 9 complete symphonies, all of which are centered around death and the afterlife.

Johannes Brahms

Johannes BrahmsOne of the finest musical craftsmen of all time, he wrote 4 symphonies which are among the most recorded repertoire ever.

Franz Liszt

Franz LisztLiszt was the greatest pianist of all time. He sightread Grieg’s Piano Concerto, playing it perfectly the first time.

Modest Mussorgsky

Modest MussorgskyWell known for his smash hit, Night on Bald Mountain, which is the #3 most recorded orchestral piece in history.

Frederic Chopin

Frederic ChopinAs a pianist, Chopin was ranked among the greatest artists of his epoch, such as Kalkbrenner, Liszt, Thalberg and Herz, but, in contrast to them, he disliked public performances and appeared rarely and rather unwillingly.

Leonard Bernstein

Leonard BernsteinHis incredibly popular West Side Story combines Jazz, Classical, Puerto Rican and Romantic elements. How could he not make the list?

Franz Schubert

Franz SchubertSometimes called the greatest songwriter of all time.

Dmitri Shostakovich

Dmitri ShostakovichShostakovich himself got into trouble with the goverment for his opera ‘Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District’ (he was made an “Enemy of the People”). They said it was ‘coarse, primitive and vulgar’ and it was banned for almost 30 years!

Richard Wagner

Richard WagnerIn spite of his supposedly less than amiable personality he managed to write the single most famous masterpiece in opera history: The Ring Cycle.


Ben Vining is a high school student in Flagstaff, Arizona. He has played cello in the All-State Orchestra since his Freshmen year and writes music in his spare time. Friend him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/benjamin.vining.

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    please make a list of greatest pianists

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    yay :] i liked this list a lot, i’ve yet to hear much of the music created by these composers though…