12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (2023)

Who is the best composer of all time? To some musicians, the answer may seem obvious as most of these people are legends of the past.

However, some great composers aren’t as famous. From the cold lands of the Russian territories to the beautiful seasons of Italy, great composers were everywhere to be found.

Although hundreds of years old, their music still exemplifies the mastery of each of these composers, and in this post, we’re going to explore the lives of 21 of the greatest composers of all time and some of their most celebrated works. Read on!

Table of Contents

1. Johann Sebastian Bach

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (1)

Holding the #1 spot in our list has to be none other than Johann Sebastian Bach, who is highly regarded as one of the best composers of all time.

He grew up in a musical family with parents who were composers, with many of his own children later going on to become musicians and composers too.

Throughout his career, Bach was a prolific composer, writing over 1,000 pieces of music, and many of his works went on to be the basis of harmony for music to this day.

Bach has many important pieces, but ones to check out would be his“Brandenburg Concertos” and his “Cello Suite No.1 in G Major.”

2. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (2)

If there is one person who epitomizes the word composer, it is none other than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1756, Mozart was a musical prodigy composing his first piece of music at the age of five. By the time he was eight, he had performed for royalty all across Europe.

(Video) Who's the Best Composer of All Time!?

Another prolific composer, Mozart, composed over 600 works; however, it was his later works that cemented his place as one of the greatest composers of all time.

His operas “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Don Giovanni” are still regularly performed today, and his symphonies (he wrote over 50 of them) are some of the most popular pieces of classical music ever written.

In short, Mozart’s genius continues to captivate audiences centuries after his death, making him one of the most enduring and important composers of all time.

3. Ludwig van Beethoven

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (3)

Even non-musicians will recognize the name Ludwig van Beethoven, who is widely considered one of the greatest composers in history.

Born in 1770, Beethoven began his musical training at an early age and quickly developed into a prodigy.

Some of his most loved pieces include his nine symphonies and some of his piano works, like “Fur Elise” and “Moonlight Sonata.”

Interestingly, as he aged, Beethoven lost his hearing, yet he still managed to compose. It’s said he would hold his head on the piano and feel the vibrations to “hear” the notes.

His music is characterized by its emotional power and technical mastery, and it continues to be performed and appreciated centuries after his death. In many ways, Beethoven set the standard for what we expect from great composers today.

4. Joseph Haydn

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (4)

Often called the Father of the Symphony, Joseph Haydn was one of the most prolific and influential composers of the classical era.

Born in Austria in 1732, Haydn showed an early aptitude for music and was given rigorous training by his uncle, a professional musician. He went on to study with some of the leading composers of the day, and by his early twenties, he had established himself as a successful composer and performer.

He is best known for his innovative symphonies, which paved the way for the work of later composers such as Beethoven and Brahms. Some of his most popular works include his “Cello Concerto No 1,” “The London Symphonies,” and his “String Quartets, Op.64.”

Haydn’s influence on the development of classical music is impossible to overstate, and he remains one of the most revered composers of all time.

(Video) 100 Most Popular Composers of Classical Music

5. Claude Debussy

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (5)

We now move on to France for Claude Debussy, considered the first Impressionist composer. Born August 22, 1862, Debussy was a child prodigy of music, showing great talent in playing the piano before he was even 10.

He then studied at Conservatoire de Paris under pianist Antoine François Marmontel and other notable musicians and composers of the time.

Often eschewing musical tradition, Debussy made his own way in creating more poetic melodies, thus influencing the Symbolist poetic movement of the 19th century.

With such an impact on music and art, it’s no wonder Debussy is considered one of the greatest composers ever lived. Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Clair de lune, and Images are among his most enduring works.

6. George Frideric Handel

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (6)

Born on February 23, 1685, German-born English composer, George Frideric Handel was gifted in music as a child, like other composers on this list.

He studied under Friedrich W. Zachow when he was young and eventually joined the opera orchestra in Hamburg before traveling through Italy between 1706 to 1710.

The years spent in Italy greatly influenced the style of his music, particularly his love for opera. The traditional conventions of Italian opera can be seen in many of his operatic works, including the enduring Giulio Cesare, Sosarme, and Alcina.

When the popularity of opera started to wane, Handel moved on to compose oratorios, which are considered even greater and more dramatic than his operas. Among these is the 1741 Messiah, the most frequently performed oratorio of all and most commonly known for its “Hallelujah Chorus.”

7. Frédéric Chopin

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (7)

March 1, 1810, in Warsaw, Poland saw the birth of another virtuoso composer and pianist named Frédéric Chopin. Also a child prodigy, he was performing for royalty before he was 12.

Chopin moved to Paris in the 1830s, where his popularity rose, and he would be known as one of the most distinguished solo pianists of the Romantic period.

His compositions, of which there were over 200 for solo piano, have endured time and include a number of mazurkas (traditional Polish dances), études, nocturnes, waltzes, sonatas, instrumental ballades (which he is credited for creating), and many others.

Sadly, while he was not yet 30, Chopin’s health started to decline, and in 1849, he passed away at the age of 39.

(Video) 30 GREATEST COMPOSERS OF ALL TIME... in 10 words or less

Some of his works were posthumously published. Fantaisie-Impromptu is one of them we recommend listening to.

8. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (8)

If you love ballet, then you must know the person behind the music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. He revolutionized ballet with the poignant and colorful orchestration we now know.

Born on April 25, 1840, the Russian composer started young in composing music and became one of the first students to study at the St. Petersburg Conservatory.

Swan Lake was his first ballet composition, around 1875; Sleeping Beauty followed a few years later, but his greatest work is the yearly performed Christmas classic The Nutcracker.

Unfortunately, after these three ballet works, Tchaikovsky would not be able to create more. He passed away from cholera on November 6, 1893. Nevertheless, his legacy left a significant impact that lasted centuries.

9. Johann Strauss II

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (9)

Johann Strauss Sr. never wanted his son to follow in his footsteps as a composer; he didn’t want Junior to experience the hardships of that career.

Nevertheless, Johann Strauss II—born on June 3, 1899, in Vienna—defied his father and secretly studied violin with recognized composers of the time and even founded a small orchestra.

And the classical music world is thankful for this defiance because, over the course of Strauss’s 73 years, he composed more than 500 waltzes, quadrilles, and other ballroom dance music.

Strauss Jr. surpassed the achievements of his dad, who was also a composer and eventually became known as the Waltz King. His most often-played piece is “The Blue Danube.”

10. Antonio Vivaldi

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (10)

Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi was born on March 4, 1678, in Venice. His father, a professional violinist, taught him violin at a young age.

Vivaldi, however, did not immediately pursue a musical career. He became an ordained priest, and when he was forced to stop celebrating mass due to health issues, he focused on composing and being an opera impresario.

(Video) The greatest composers of all the time

His works revolved around instrumental and sacred vocal music, and his concertos featured the fast-slow-fast movement considered classic today.

Though Vivaldi composed around 500 concertos and over 50 sacred vocal pieces, he was not as famous as his contemporaries while he was still alive. It was only in the early 20th century that he was rediscovered, and his masterpieces were revived.

11. Felix Mendelssohn

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (11)

Next up, we have another celebrated Romantic-period composer. Born on February 3, 1809, Felix Mendelssohn was considered the 19th-century Mozart, and many thought he was even better.

Mendelssohn was a prolific and precocious composer; he studied piano at a young age, and before he was a teen, he had already created a number of musical masterpieces.

His works total over 700. Ones you might know are “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Italian Symphony,” and even the classic Christmas song we love to sing, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

Unfortunately, the death of his sister, Fanny (also a musician and composer), in 1847 took a toll on Mendelssohn. He passed away soon after that same year; he was only 38 years old.

12. Richard Wagner

12 Of The Most Famous And Greatest Composers Of All Time (12)

German composer Richard Wagner was born on May 22, 1813. He was a legend in musical drama, and unlike the others on this list who had tutors as children, Wagner taught himself to play the piano and composition when he was young.

The composer’s life was rife with controversies. He had many anti-Semitic views, and he was one of Hitler’s favorite composers. Some say his thoughts on Jews influenced Nazi thinking, and his works were played at concentration camps.

Despite the controversies over his beliefs, Wagner’s music still became a huge influence on musicians. In his 69 years, he composed over 100 pieces of music, including “The Flying Dutchman” and the legendary “Ring” cycle (Der Ring des Nibelungen), which lasts a whopping 15 hours.

Summing Up Our List Of Great Classical Composers

The sounds of old, which we now term classical music, are to our ears as honey is to our lips—it is ambrosia. The mood, emotion, and drama it evokes are on a different level from the music we usually listen to now.

However, even with the differences, its tremendous and timeless influence on music cannot be denied. The stories classical music tell has become cultural and important to our history.

And we have the men above to thank for. Without them, life certainly would have been different.

(Video) The Best of Classical Music 🎻 Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Vivaldi 🎹 Most Famous Classic Pieces


Who is the greatest composers of all time? ›

The German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven is widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived.

Who are the Big 4 composers? ›

A Brief History of Four Great Classical Composers
  • Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) There is no doubt you have heard of Bach many times in your life, and for good reason. ...
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) ...
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) ...
  • Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
Feb 22, 2016

Who is the No 1 music composer in the world? ›

Top Grossing Composer at the Worldwide Box OfficeBETA
1Hans Zimmer107
2John Williams79
3Michael Giacchino45
4James Newton Howard123
77 more rows

Who is the greatest composer today? ›

Here are 10 of the most stand-out composers of the last 22 years, and hopefully more to come...
The 10 greatest composers of the 21st century (so far)
  • Max Richter. ...
  • Ludovico Einaudi. ...
  • Hildur Guðnadóttir. ...
  • Eric Whitacre. ...
  • Hans Zimmer. ...
  • Yoko Shimomura. ...
  • Wynton Marsalis. ...
  • Rachel Portman.
Nov 18, 2022

Who were the big five in music? ›

Someone writing in The New York Times would refer to the Big Five American orchestras: the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Who are members of the big five music? ›

Petersburg], Russia), Russian composer of operas, songs, and piano music. He was a music critic and military engineer who, with Aleksandr Borodin, Mily Balakirev, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, made up the group known as The Five.

Who created more than 700 compositions? ›

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), baptised as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period. Despite his short life, his rapid pace of composition resulted in more than 800 works of virtually every genre of his time.

Who is the greatest composer of the 20th century? ›

10 of the best 20th-century composers
  • Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) ...
  • Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) ...
  • William Grant Still (1895-1978) ...
  • Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) ...
  • Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) ...
  • Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) ...
  • John Williams (1932-present) ...
  • Philip Glass (1937-present)
Dec 1, 2020

Who is America's first composer? ›

William Billings: “America's First Composer”

Who was America's first great composer? ›

America's First Composer - Francis Hopkinson.

Who are the 7 traditional composers? ›

Prominent classicist composers include Christoph Willibald Gluck, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Stamitz, Joseph Haydn, Johann Christian Bach, Antonio Salieri, Muzio Clementi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Luigi Boccherini, Ludwig van Beethoven, Niccolò Paganini, Gioachino Rossini and Franz Schubert.

Who is mother of classical music? ›

Two centuries after her birth, the composer, critic, impresario, pianist, celebrity, mother and Robert Schumann's wife — and not necessarily in that order — is recognized as a 19th century power woman.

What composer wrote the most music? ›

1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 626 pieces in 35 years. If we had to pick a composer who got through their work quickly, we'd have to go with Mozart. He wrote 626 pieces in his 35 years - that's an average of 17.9 pieces a year, including the years when he was too young to hold a quill!

Who is the hardest composer to play? ›

These are the definitively the hardest pieces of music to play
  • Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji - Opus clavicembalisticum. ...
  • Alexander Scriabin - Mysterium. ...
  • Franz Liszt - La Campanella. ...
  • Giovanni Bottesini - Double Bass Concerto No. ...
  • J.S. Bach - Chaconne in D. ...
  • Luciano Berio - Sequenzas. ...
  • Conlon Nancarrow - Studies for Player Piano.
Sep 11, 2017

What is the greatest classical piece of all time? ›

The 15 most famous tunes in classical music
  • Mozart – Eine kleine Nachtmusik. The official name of this piece is the Serenade No. ...
  • Beethoven – Für Elise. ...
  • Puccini – 'O mio babbino caro' from Gianni Schicchi. ...
  • J.S. ...
  • Beethoven – Symphony No. ...
  • Vivaldi – The Four Seasons. ...
  • Bizet – 'Carmen' ...
  • Johann Strauss II – The Blue Danube.
Jun 17, 2022

Who is the goat of classical music? ›

(Beethoven, after all, is classical's Greatest Of All Time, or GOAT). He opined, "You have no idea of how it feels — always to hear the tramp of such a giant [Beethoven] behind you."

Who was better than Mozart? ›

With 16 of the 300 most popular works having come from his pen, Mozart remains a strong contender but ranks second after Ludwig van Beethoven, overtaking Amadeus with 19 of his works in the Top 300 and three in the Top 10.

Who was better Mozart Beethoven or Bach? ›

In musical circles there is no debate, the answer is Beethoven. His string quartets the richest, his ninth symphony the pinnacle of symphonic achievement, the majestic Missa Solemnis, his piano works, his concertos and so on.

What did Beethoven say about Mozart? ›

Beethoven describes Mozart performing

We know this because Beethoven's student Carl Czerny, who was a reliable reporter, heard Beethoven describing Mozart's playing, which he said was fine but choppy, and without much legato.

Who was Mozart's enemy? ›

The name of Antonio Salieri is very much in the air these days, thanks to Peter Shaffer's ''Amadeus. '' In case you are living in Ch'pyangong and missed the news, the Shaffer play is about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his rival Antonio Salieri, and much of it is based on fact.

Who is the greatest classical singer of all time? ›

Their soulful rendition has brought solace to many a hearts.Here is a list of some of the best Indian classical musicians:
  • Miyan Tansen. ...
  • Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. ...
  • Hariprasad Chaurasia. ...
  • MS Subbulakshmi. ...
  • Bismillah Khan. ...
  • Ravi Shankar. ...
  • Zakir Hussain. ...
  • Shiv Kumar Sharma.
Sep 29, 2016

Did Albert Einstein like Mozart? ›

It was Mozart's violin sonatas that finally had him hooked at age 13. "Mozart's music is so pure and beautiful that I see it as a reflection of the inner beauty of the universe," he said. He also learned how to play the piano from his mother, Pauline Koch, an accomplished pianist in her own right.


1. The 100 Greatest Composers
(Markèli Giyvarto)
2. The Best of Classical Music 🎻 Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss II, Bizet,handel, Rossini, Satie, Liszt
(Classical Composers House )
3. The Greatest Classical Music Composers
4. Face Animations Top 100 Famous Classical Music Composers
(Conrad Askland)
5. Greatest composers of all time
(vivaldi mausfalle)
6. The Greatest Classical Music Composers: Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky...
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Domingo Moore

Last Updated: 02/11/2023

Views: 6261

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Domingo Moore

Birthday: 1997-05-20

Address: 6485 Kohler Route, Antonioton, VT 77375-0299

Phone: +3213869077934

Job: Sales Analyst

Hobby: Kayaking, Roller skating, Cabaret, Rugby, Homebrewing, Creative writing, amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Domingo Moore, I am a attractive, gorgeous, funny, jolly, spotless, nice, fantastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.