The Great Composers

Everybody has their own favourite composers. So everybody has a different idea about who is great. However I think almost every list of the great composers of classical music would include the following three names:

After that the list becomes a bit more tricky. If I were asked to chose just one more name to add to the list it would be

but a lot of people would argue with me about this!!! (mainly because Wagner was quite often a nasty person).

What about a bigger list? Who else do I think was really good composer? Well here is my list. It is my list only. I hope you will come up with your own sometime.

There! That should cause a few arguments amongst grown-ups who know something about classical music.

There are many other composers that I like very much, especially

but there is something different between ‘like’ and ‘great’, or even ‘very good’. Great is more about how clever and original the music is.

I should say that most musicians would include

on their lists of ‘really good’ composers (or even ‘great’). But for some reason I’m not a huge fan of Brahms.

Many musicians would also include some composers who lived a very long time ago, such as Thomas Tallis (c.1505–1585) or Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643). However I don’t listen to much of this very old music, so I won’t choose anyone.

Anyway, as I said, there’s little argument about who the three greatest composers are. Here is video of some of the greatest music from the three greatest composers. Enjoy!

No, don’t just enjoy. This is serious music. So think about it too.

  • Bach: Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy) from the B minor Mass. (The grave you see in the middle of the church at the beginning of the video is Bach’s.)
  • Kyrie eleison from Bach’s Mass in B minor

  • Mozart: Kyrie eleison (Lord have mercy) from the C minor Mass, (the ‘Great’).

    Kyrie eleison from the ‘Great’ C minor Mass by Mozart

  • Beethoven: Part of the Ode to Joy from the Symphony No. 9.
  • Part of the ‘Ode to Joy’ from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9

Picture credits:
  1. Music by Bach in his own hand-writing. This is the first page of Bach’s Prelude in C, from Book 1 of ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’. The image will be in the public domain because its copyright has expired. Click here for the source of this image.
Video credits:
  1. 02 Kyrie, eleison. “Kyrie, eleison,” from the 2000 performance of the Mass in B minor (BWV 232) for the conclusion of Bachfest 2000, in honor of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death.

    From the St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, Germany
    Thomaskantor Georg Christoph Biller (the 16th since Bach)
    The Thomanerchor
    The Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  2. Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor- Kyrie. John Eliot Gardiner conducts the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir in the Kyrie of Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, K.427. There is more information about this one on the video’s YouTube page.
  3. Beethoven Symphony No.9 – Bernstein 1989 (part 2). “Ode to Freedom” Beethoven: Symphony No.9 in D minor Op.125, Leonard Bernstein, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Staatskapelle Dresden, Kirov Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, June Anderson, Sarah Walker, Klaus Konig, Jan-Hendrik Rootering. Live recording in Schauspielhaus Berlin, 25-12-1989.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Edwina 30th October 2012

I don’t understand why Scott Joplin is considered a Jazz musician. Shouldn’t he be considered a composer? He actually wrote ragtime jazz instead of just jazz. His most famous piece was called “The Entertainer” that was used as the main piece of music for the movie, “The Sting” among other pieces of his music. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t feel he should be in the category of jazz musicians, but in the category of composer. I was wondering why he’s not listed in the other category.

2 Malcolm Pullan 12th December 2012

Thank you for your very good comment Edwina. I think jazz musicians are composers as well. That is why I put them under the composer heading in the menu. In the composer menu I have listed two types of composers–classical composers and jazz artists. The types are different, but both types compose music. I agree that Scott Joplin composed lots of music. I also agree that he is perhaps not considered a “jazz artist” by many people. Not only that, he even wrote some classical music! However many of ideas for jazz came from Scott Joplin’s music. In many ways, Scott Joplin helped jazz get started. This is why I have put Scott Joplin in the “jazz artist” list!

3 Madison Miner 10th April 2016

Wow!!!!!!!!!!

4 i love music 10th September 2016

so helpful 4 my homework

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