Top 10 Classical Music Composers of All Time

Classical music composers seem to have flourished mainly in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the twentieth century there have not been too many classical music composers who have achieved a great deal of fame or have left an impact on the music scene.

Here is our list of the Top Ten Classical Music Composers of all times – in no particular order:


1. Bach:

It was only after his death in 1750 that people realised what a great musical genius Bach really was. Till then he was mainly known as an organist and many considered his music to be old fashioned. He came in at a time when Baroque style of music was just beginning to come into its own and the Renaissance age of music was beginning to flounder. He gave us a synthesis of the two and gave us gems such as The Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations.


2. Beethoven:

German by birth, Beethoven moved to Vienna, Austria to learn and study under Haydn. He is considered to be among the most famous and influential composers of all time. Even though his hearing began to deteriorate by the time he had reached his late twenties, he continued to compose, conduct and perform. He composed in several music genres and for a variety of instrument combinations.


3. Mozart:

The most famous composer of the Classical era, Mozart composed over 600 works. He showed early promise as a musical genius, since he was performing on the keyboard and as a violinist since the age of 5 and was composing from the age of 6. His style was brilliant and he combined the elements of the dark and passionate with the graceful and light and gave us memorable operas such as The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.


4. Schubert:

Probably best known for his immortal version of Ave Maria, and his Symphony Number 9, Schubert was a genius who incorporated the vision of Mozart in his compositions. Many consider him to be the greatest songwriter of all times and of melodic, lyrical compositions. He composed masses, symphonies, ballet, string quartets and sonatas.


5. Haydn:

The inventor of the string quartet, and of the modern symphony, Haydn was also an exceptional opera and mass composer. He created the string quartet when one musician failed to turn up for one his recitals and he had to join in as the second violinist with another violinist, violist and cellist. He went one to give us his famous cello concerto.


6. Brahms:

Adhering strictly to the classical forms of music, Brahms wrote four outstanding symphonies and is considered to be one of the finest craftsmen in musical history. His finest compositions are Variations on a Theme of Paganini, A German Requiem and his Violin Concerto


7. Verdi:

Verdi’s 28 operas are the reason why he is believed to be the greatest opera composer of all times. Deeply religious and Catholic, his music reflects his beliefs and has been glorious and reflective of his belief in God as both the Giver and the Avenger.  Many of his Arias have become a part of popular music and are recognisable even among those who are not familiar with classical music.


8. Handel:

Second only to Haydn in the prolific amount of music he composed, Handel wrote over 315 hours of music. The Messiah, the greatest oratorio ever composed was his gift to mankind and even more famous is the Hallelujah Chorus which is a part of this composition.


9. Tchaikovsky:

Swan Lake and The Nutcracker Suite are his most famous and recognisable compositions. Born in the Romantic Era of Russian parentage, he gave us magical and original music. His repertoire was amazing, he gave us chamber and instrumental music, symphonies, operas and ballets. Occasionally derided by some as being vulgar and lacking in inspiration, yet he remains one of the most popular composers of all times.


10. Chopin:

The most famous composer for the piano, he claimed he did not understand orchestration and had friends such Liszt help him in scoring his music. Yet he presented some superlative music and his short piano music gave us some memorable waltzes, preludes and sonatas.

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4 Responses

  1. Michael

    A famous modern composer like John Williams should have been added but other than that its a good list.

  2. Joe N.

    Anyone can quibble with the list but I like it. The only change I would make (just because of my personal taste, not the greatness issue) would be to substitute one Italian for another: Vivaldi for Verdi. But then I don’t particularly care for opera, which makes my choice biased.

  3. Mun

    It’s a shame Beethoven would be put on a top ten list of composers. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Beethoven but he on many occasions fails when it comes to consistency. His compositions can open with the most beautiful tunes you’ve ever heard but the quality of the composition starts to lower as you go on listening to the composition.

    I mean it’s even documented that he struggled to compose music and keep the level of quality the same.

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