Top 10 Greatest Composers in Classical Music - Ranked

Published on 16 April 2020 at 23:10

Every piece in the history of classical music is the manifestation of some of the greatest attributes of human beings. The creativity involved in creating some of these pieces is beyond amazing. This list is dedicated to those people.

There has always been fierce competition between the composers and in order to stand out, you had to have quite some talent. Names like Mozart, Beethoven and Bach are among the most famous. However, we shouldn't forget about some of the other great names whose importance to classical music has been indescribable and they too deserve to be recognized. Here is the bigger picture.

German Ludwig van Beethoven is number 1 in this list. He lived from 1770 to 1827 and he started to go deaf from 1801 on, which would eventually result in complete deafness. He was an unreasonable, gloomy and suspicious person. Despite the fact that he was taught by Haydn, the influence of this composer can hardly be heard in his music and he created his own style.

He is often seen as the transitional figure between classicism and romanticism and was innovative in his time, through the application of monothematic music in his works. His work was controversial sometimes due to the length and complexity of the compositions.

The Austrian W.A. Mozart was a musical prodigy who lived from 1756 to 1791 and composed a number of instruments at an early age. Mozart had a lot of influence on later composers, such as Beethoven and Brahms. In the 32 years that Mozart was musically active, he built up an enormous oeuvre with well-known pieces like Die Zauberflöte, Requiem and Don Giovanni.

His youth works in particular are clearly inspired by Bach. He started playing the piano when he was three years old and wrote his first symphony when he was eight years old. In addition to piano, he played the violin, organ and viola. Mozart had money worries all his life (mainly because of his expensive lifestyle) and left behind debts after his death alongside two surviving sons. At the end of his life, his mental health deteriorated further and he suffered from delusions and depression.

Johann Sebastian Bach lived from 1685 to 1750 and is the face of the Baroque repertoire. He was orphaned at the age of ten and grew up in the family of his oldest brother. The last year of his life, he was completely blind, until he suddenly regains his eyesight ten days before his death. A few hours later, he had a stroke and as a result died ten days later.

Bach has influenced many composers after him. Hadyn, Mozart, Schumann, Strawinsky. He combined all music styles from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and gave it his own sound. At the end of his teens he became an organist in Arnstadt, Germany. During his life, Bach was mainly seen as an organist. It was only when the composer Mendelssohn revived his works, that the world became aware of Bach's qualities.

Chopin was considered a child prodigy on the piano from an early age. His talent as a composer and his virtuoso control of the piano make him one of the greatest composers to this day.

Chopin was a very innovative composer in his day. He was born in Poland in 1810 and died in Paris in 1849 (tuberculosis). Poland always remained in his heart and that is clearly heard in his music. He was a big fan of Mozart's music himself and his music has been used in many films. Furthermore, several films have been made about his life, in which of course his music can also be heard.

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) was a violinist, composer and a true legend with his nickname 'The Devil'. It's partly due to mysteries about his personality and he certainly didn't mind this nickname. It is said that late at night, he played the violin at a graveyard to stir up this portrait of him selling his soul to the devil. He also painted his face whiter before concerts.

As a musician, Paganini was inspired by numerous composers, including Mozart, Liszt and Beethoven. With his violin he varied and improvised (which he was notorious for) on these and other composers. Paganini mainly influenced violin music. He himself had a huge influence on the composers after him, including Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Liszt's father, Adam Liszt was once employed by the noble Esterházy family and he was a very talented musician who played several instruments. He had a connection with great names like Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven by the relationship with the Esterházy family. He was similar to Paganini in his fame, enthusiasm and profile in that his audience was ecstatic around his performances. Fans fought over his handkerchiefs and gloves, broken piano strings, and even wanted to lures of his hair.

Like many composers in this list, Liszt was a child prodigy. His father gave him his first piano lessons, after which he moved the family to Vienna for Liszt's development. After fourteen months of lessons with Antonio Salieri, among others, Liszt moved to Paris with his family in 1823. Here he developed his piano playing as a self-taught artist, took lessons in composition and music theory and also performed.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer of the renaissance period whose music was labeled too Western by many countrymen of his time. After a job as a civil servant, Tchaikovsky went to study music at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he also became a teacher.

The very wealthy countess Nadesjda Filaretovna von Meck who was a young businesswoman, offered him the opportunity in 1877 to devote his life entirely to composing. She was known for her support to musicians and admired Tchaikovsky's work. For years they had an intimate correspondence, but Tchaikovsky never wanted to meet her. In 1890, the countess discontinued her financial support for unclear reasons. One theory is that she was unable to reconcile with his sexual orientation.

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born on March 4, 1678 as the son of one of the best violinists in the chapel of San Marco. Under the eye of his father, Antonio quickly develops into a violin virtuoso. In addition, he follows a training to become a priest, which he concludes in 1703.

He is soon recognized by his crimson hair: all his further life he is called "il prete rosso", the red priest. But Vivaldi only lead a Mass a few times. He also suffered from breathing problems that had previously prevented him from playing wind instruments.

His musical talents do not help him with his priestly duties: he is said to regularly interrupt his masses to write down a musical idea before he forgets it. From 1704 he no longer has to dedicate masses due to his poor health.

Rachmaninoff, from the somewhat impoverished wealthy class, was destined to enter music from his childhood. He studied piano and composition in record time, with the First Piano Concerto as a stunning result when he was eighteen. He is said to have extremely large hands, each of which could span 12 piano keys. His recitals with works by all kinds of composers (especially Chopin) and his own music brought him abroad early on.

In addition, he developed into a gifted conductor - albeit unplanned: the premiere of his First Symphony, whether or not because of the drunken conductor Glazunov, was disastrous, and so he felt that it was necessary to reinvent himself. It took several years and hypnosis therapy for Rachmaninoff to return to the writing table, but it paid off.

10. Johannes Brahms

He was born in Hamburg in 1833, the son of a seamstress and a double bass player. The young "Hannes" learned to play different instruments, but concentrated on the piano. His teacher, Eduard Marxsen, also taught him music theory.

"The most classical composer of the romantic period," is how Johannes Brahms went down in history. His full sound image and the long melodic lines are clearly romantic, but you won't find musical self-portraits, portrayals and emotional outbursts. With Brahms, music is about music and he attaches great importance to the tried and tested forms of Bach and Beethoven.

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Robert wall
3 years ago

Robert Schumann. instead of Paganini.

Paul Quinn
2 years ago

Well, I guess we can be grateful Hildegard von Bingen and Philip Glass aren't on this one.

Händl x Vivaldi.

Schubert x. Chopin, who wrote nearly exclusively for the piano. His attempts at orchestration are a weak link.

Liszt and Paganini were more celebrities than composers. Schumann and Brahms belong in their places instead.

No Wagner?!?!

Jack B Victor
2 years ago

For me, Bartok's 2nd violin concerto is the greatest

Toby Yang
2 years ago

I have no idea why you place Mozart in front of Bach and place Tchaikovsky in front of Rachmaninoff

Rosalind & Terry Bates
2 years ago

How can Schubert be left out of the top 10 and Paganini get in?!

MASON SOO-HOO@)#$@!^*^&*(((*&%())<>?:""
2 years ago


Alex Varsegi
11 months ago

Mozart, Beethoven, J S Bach, Schubert, Brahms, Haydn, Verdi, Wagner, Liszt, Handl. (my list, yours is close)

Renato Moraes
4 months ago

Bach is the number 1. Paganini? This is list is not good at all, sorry.