Top 25 Composers

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1.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Soundtrack, Dead Poets Society
Beethoven was the child of a Flamian musician family and became a member of the electoral orchestra of Bonn in 1783. In 1787 he studied at Mozart's in Vienna and in 1792 he moved all to Vienna becoming a student of Joseph Haydn. The Vienna High Society loved him as a piano player as well as as composer...
 
2.
Joseph Haydn
Haydn had a hard childhood: at six years old he had to work as a boy singer in a choir and after his voice broke he had to earn his money by playing dance music and serving as a butler. Becoming famous for his compositions Haydn was employed as "Kapellmeister" by Fuerst Esterhazy in Eisenstadt in 1761...
 
3.
Johannes Brahms
Soundtrack, The Truman Show
German Romantic composer Johannes Brahms was born in Hamburg in 1833 and died in Vienna, Austria in 1897. A perfectionist, he often compared himself unfavorably to composers such as Beethoven and ended up destroying many compositions without their ever being heard. While basically conservative, he showed musical growth throughout his four symphonies and occasionally borrowed wilder folk themes...
 
4.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Soundtrack, The Godfather
Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685, in Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany, into a large and distinguished family of professional musicians. His father, named Johann Ambrosius Bach, was a violinist and trumpeter, employed by the city of Eisenach. His uncles were church organists, court musicians and composers...
 
5.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Soundtrack, The King's Speech
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart grew up in Salzburg under the regulation of his strict father Leopold who also was a famous composer of his time. His abilities in music were obvious even when Mozart was still young so that in 1762 at the age of six, his father took him with his elder sister on a concert tour to Munich and Vienna and a second one from 1763-66 through the south of Germany...
 
6.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Music Department, Black Swan
Pyotr (Peter) Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840, in Votkinsk, Vyatka region, Russia. He was the second of six children (five brothers and one sister). His father, named Ilya Chaikovsky, was a mining business executive in Votkinsk. His father's ancestors were from Ukraine and Poland. His mother, named Aleksandra Assier, was of Russian and French ancestry...
 
7.
Antonín Dvorák
Soundtrack, The Departed
Antonin Dvorak was a son of butcher, but he did not follow his father's trade. While assisting his father part-time, he studied music, and graduated from the Prague Organ School in 1859. He also was an accomplished violinist and violist, and joined the Bohemian Theatre Orchestra, which was under the baton of Bedrich Smetana in 1860s...
 
9.
Franz Schubert
Schubert was musically educated at the "Hofkapelle" in Vienna where he sang as a boy but then had to quit in order to help his father at school. Four years later, he became an independent composer and was destined to live in poverty from then onwards. Having an introverted personality, Schubert played his songs mostly amongst a couple of friends who shared his romantic passion...
 
10.
Antonio Vivaldi
Being the son of a violinist Vivaldi started playing the violin himself early in his life. In 1703 he became priest and in 1716 the director of a conservatory of the church in Venice. Being a famous violinist he gave concerts all over Europe also composing a lot of violin concerts and other string works. There is not much information about his life only that he died in poverty in Vienna.
 
11.
Gustav Mahler
Soundtrack, Shutter Island
Gustav Mahler is largely considered one of the most talented symphonic composers of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. His musical output comprised mainly of symphonic and song cycles requiring mammoth orchestras and often choruses. Sadly, Mahler never experienced popularity as a composer during his lifetime...
 
12.
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Rachmaninov (also spelled Rachmaninoff) was a legendary Russian composer and pianist who emigrated after the Communist revolution of 1917, and became one of the highest paid concert stars of his time, and one of the most influential pianists of the 20th century. He was born Sergei Vasilevich Rachmaninov on April 2...
 
14.
Frédéric Chopin
Soundtrack, The Prestige
When as young as age eight Chopin used to give piano concerts. Thus he wanted to become a professional piano player and moved to Paris in 1830 where he was accepted and welcomed by important composers of his time like Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz as well as no less important authors like Heinrich Heine and Honoré de Balzac...
 
15.
Béla Bartók
Soundtrack, The Shining
Composer, pianist and author, educated at the Franz Liszt Conservatory in Budapest. He was professor of music at the Royal Academy from 1907 to 1940, and made a 12-volume collection of traditional Hungarian, Rumanian and Arabian melodies, also writing articles on research into folklore and folk songs...
 
16.
Sergei Prokofiev
Prokofiev was a multi-talented man and an innovative composer. He learned piano from his mother and chess from his father. He always had a chess set on his piano, and was able to play against the chess champions of his time. He studied music with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, graduated with highest marks from the St...
 
17.
Gustav Holst
Soundtrack, Invictus
 
18.
Richard Strauss
Music Department, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Richard Strauss was a German composer best known for symphonic poem 'Also sprach Zarathustra' (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1896) used as the music score in 2001: A Space Odyssey by director Stanley Kubrik. He was born Richard Georg Strauss on June 11, 1864, in Munich, Bavaria (now Germany). His father, named Franz Strauss...
 
19.
George Frideric Handel
Soundtrack, The Social Network
Born February 23 1685 in Halle, Germany, he was christened "Georg Friederich Händel" but always signed his name "Georg Friedrich Händel". His father intended for him to go into law, but Händel studied music clandestinely and was eventually allowed to study under an organist. He achieved some sucess early on...
 
20.
Edvard Grieg
Soundtrack, The Social Network
Edvard Hagerup Grieg (Greig) was born on on June 15, 1843, in Bergen, Norway. His father, named Alexander Greig (originally McGregor), was English consul of Scottish origin. His mother, named Gesine Hagerup, was an educated pianist. Grieg grew up among three sisters and an elder brother. He began piano studies with his mother at the age of six...
 
21.
Edward Elgar
Soundtrack, Forrest Gump
Edward Elgar was born on June 2, 1857, in Broadheath, near Worcester, where his father named William Elgar, was a music shop owner and a piano technician. Elgar was the fourth of six children. He was self-taught in all musical instruments, that were at his disposal in his father's shop, and he studied all the sheet music available in the shop...
 
23.
Bernard Herrmann
Music Department, Kill Bill: Vol. 1
The man behind the low woodwinds that open Citizen Kane, the shrieking violins of Psycho, and the plaintive saxophone of Taxi Driver was one of the most original and distinctive composers ever to work in film. He started early, winning a composition prize at the age of 13 and founding his own orchestra at the age of 20...
 
24.
Aleksandr Borodin
Soundtrack, Heartbreakers
Aleksandr Borodin was born on November 12, 1833 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was in fact the illegitimate son of the Georgian Prince, Lukas Gedevanishvili, who registered his son under the name of his serf and payed for Borodin's private education in music, languages and sciences. Young Borodin grew up becoming fluent in German...