Top 10 composers in the world according to the New York Times

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective and does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Although the world of music is highly influenced by fashion trends, there is an area that has remained unchanged for over a hundred years – the classics. The works of classical composers enjoyed great success during the lifetime of their creators, and over time they became recognizable all over the world. Classical music is studied in universities and even used for therapeutic purposes, due to its beneficial effects on the human psyche. More recently, a music expert representing the authoritative edition of the New York Times conducted a large-scale study in order to identify ten of the most prominent music authors in the history of mankind. Let's find out which composers are considered the best in the world.

New York Times rating of the best composers in the world

Nomination a place Composer rating
Ranking of the best composers in the world according to the New York Times 10 Bela Bartok 4.1
9 Richard Wagner 4.2
8 Giuseppe Verdi 4.3
7 Johannes Brahms 4.4
6 Igor Stavrinsky 4.5
5 Claude Debussy 4.6
4 Franz Schubert 4.7
3 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 4.8
2 Ludwig van Beethoven 4.9
1 Johann Sebastian Bach 5.0

Bela Bartok

Rating: 4.1

Bela Bartok

One of the most recognized innovators of the 20th century, he made an invaluable contribution to world music. The future composer was born in a Romanian village called Nagysentmiklos in 1881. From an early age, his parents instilled in him a love of music. Bartok's mother played the piano, and his father was an amateur musician who participated in the activities of the local orchestra. By the age of five, he could perform a piano piece with his father. The first public debut took place when Bartok was 11 years old. He played in a charity orchestra in the Transcarpathian city of Vinogradov, performing not only Beethoven, but also the music of his own composition. Soon after that, the young composer left for Bratislava, where he studied with Laszlo Erkel, and then entered the Academy of Music, where he was admitted without entrance exams.

Since graduation, Bartok has embarked on a brilliant musical career. His authorship includes such works as the opera “Castle of the Duke Bluebeard”, ballet compositions “The Wood Prince” and “The Miraculous Mandarin”. The latter was not accepted by the censors, who considered it too obscene. In addition, Bartok created several compositions inspired by folklore, one of which is “Balkan Dances”. During the Nazi period, the composer refused to perform in Germany and even left the Austrian Composers' Union, as he was a staunch anti-fascist. When the war broke out, Bartok emigrated to the United States, where he lived in New York. One of the craters of Mercury was named after the famous composer.

Richard Wagner

Rating: 4.2

Richard Wagner

The German composer had a tremendous influence on the musical culture of Europe and the theory of art in general. His opera compositions were truly revolutionary at the time. Wagner began to study music in 1828, this was facilitated by his adoptive father, actor Ludwig Geyer. From 1831 he studied music at the University of Leipzig. For a long time, Wagner worked as a theater choirmaster, then as a conductor, and even later as a court bandmaster at the Saxon court. The composer's fame began with the opera “Rienzi. The Last Tribune”. In 1849, he took part in the events of the Dresden Uprising, supporting the struggle to establish a republican government in Germany to replace the monarchy. After the defeat of the revolutionaries, he went to Zurich. It was there that Wagner began work on his famous cycle The Ring of the Nibelungen, and also created the musical drama Tristan and Isolde. In 1864, the composer moved to Munich, where he wrote the operas Siegfried and The Death of the Gods. The last period of his life he lived in Venice.

Wagner's music was a reflection of his philosophical concept, in which the main place was given to musical drama. He considered it the highest embodiment of art and the main meaning of his work. The composer's reformist views were clearly visible already in his early works, such as “The Flying Dutchman” or “Tannhäuser”. Wagner's operas gave a serious impetus to the development of modernist trends in European and Russian music. In addition to working on compositions, he also proved himself in writing articles on musical theory, as well as theory and history of art. The main essence of Wagner's philosophy lies in the conviction that the achievement of world harmony is possible only under the condition of the unity of beauty and universal freedom – two fundamental principles.

Giuseppe Verdi

Rating: 4.3

Giuseppe Verdi

The work of this Italian composer marked the heyday of 19th century Italian opera. He left behind 28 masterpieces of opera, which later served as a source of inspiration for many of his successors. An interesting coincidence: Verdi was born in 1813, the same year as his future creative rival Wagner. Giuseppe Verdi grew up in a poor family and had every chance of becoming an innkeeper, like his father. But noticing the son's craving for art, his parents gave him a spinet (a small desktop keyboard instrument), and also sent him to study with Pietro Baistrocchi. Then Verdi studied musical literacy in Bucetto, with the director of the Philharmonic Society. At the age of eighteen, he tried to enter the Milan Conservatory, but was not admitted due to the “insufficiently high level of piano playing” (now this music conservatory bears his name), so he continued his studies privately.

Verdi's first public appearance took place in 1830. But the well-deserved fame and critical acclaim came to the composer with the premiere of the opera “Othello”. After a long and productive creative period, he decided to follow the example of his second wife, singer Giuseppina Strepponi, and end his musical career. However, Verdi soon returned to the world of opera, writing Rigoletto and then Traviatti, which brought him great success and international fame.

Johannes Brahms

Rating: 4.4

Johannes Brahms

German composer and musician Johannes Brahms is one of the key figures of the Romantic period. He was born in Hamburg, the son of a double bass player, from whom he inherited his love of music. From childhood, Brahms studied piano, wind and string instruments, and composition theory. Already at the age of 10 he performed at concerts. After graduating from a private school, fourteen-year-old Brahms gave his first solo piano concert. He made his debut as a composer in 1852, after writing a fis-moll sonata. A year later, Brahms met Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt, which had a positive impact on his musical career. Immediately after that, he created a number of outstanding works of both piano and chamber music. For a couple of years, Brahms served at the prince's court as a court musician, but he quickly got bored with such work.

The year 1868 became especially important in the composer's work, when the premiere of one of his most recognizable works, which bore the name “German Requiem”, took place. Success also awaited subsequent compositions. Having become famous, Brahms traveled extensively throughout Europe. With age, he began to get sick, but at the same time he did not stop working on music almost until the last days of his life. For all the time he wrote over eighty works of various genres, with the exception of opera. The composer's talent and original style were most clearly manifested in his symphonies.

Igor Stravinsky

Rating: 4.5

Igor Stravinsky

The famous Russian composer and pianist Stravinsky is considered one of the most outstanding representatives of the musical culture of the 20th century. He grew up in a family of musicians, learned to play the piano from childhood, then took private lessons from Rimsky-Korsakov, under whose guidance he created his first works. Soon the young talent was noticed by the theatrical figure Diaghilev, and he invited Stravinsky to write ballets for his troupe. These three ballets entitled Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring brought him international fame. Before the outbreak of the First World War, Stravinsky and his family left for Switzerland, then moved to the capital of France, never returning to his homeland. There he wrote his operas “The Nightingale” and “The Soldier's Story”. A little later, he made his debut as a pianist when he took part in a concert of his own composition.

In the 30s of the XX century, Stravinsky worked mainly on concerts, creating compositions for violin and piano. He also goes on tour a lot, including to the United States, where the composer then moves in connection with the outbreak of World War II. Stravinsky has lived in California for a long time, where he writes several outstanding works, including the ballet Orpheus and the opera The Rake's Progress. The world's first Stravinsky Museum was opened in 1990, it is located in the Ukrainian city of Ustilug, Volyn region.

Claude Debussy

Rating: 4.6

Claude Debussy

The composer's music is an intermediate link between classical romanticism and modernism of the 20th century. He is considered the most prominent representative of the Impressionist movement.

Claude Debussy was born and raised in the suburbs of Paris, in the family of a poor merchant. From an early age he studied music and at the age of ten he entered the Paris Conservatory, where he studied piano under the direction of the pianist Antoine Marmontel. During his studies, Debussy repeatedly clashed with conservative teachers who did not approve of the student's penchant for musical experiments. The composer spent a long time in the family of the Russian philanthropist von Meck, traveling with them as a home music teacher. He was especially impressed by a trip to Russia, where Debussy got acquainted with the work of Tchaikovsky, about which he then spoke with admiration.

Upon his return to the capital of France, Debussy significantly expanded his circle of acquaintances, largely thanks to the singer Vanier; he subsequently dedicated several romances to her, including the famous “Mandolin” and “Under the Mute”. For his subsequent work, the composer was awarded the Grand Rome Prize. In the future, his creative search for a new style was facilitated by his acquaintance with Eric Satie. One of the most important compositions of Debussy was the impressionist prelude “Afternoon of a Faun”.

Franz Schubert

Rating: 4.7

Franz Schubert

Franz Schubert is the most important figure in the genre of classical romanticism. His music demonstrates originality and independence unprecedented for that time. The compositions of this author remain popular among connoisseurs of classical music to this day.

Schubert was born on the outskirts of Vienna, the son of a parish school teacher and an amateur musician. His father taught him to play the violin, and his older brother introduced him to the piano. Despite his obvious musical talent, the future composer graduated from a teacher's seminary and worked as a teacher at the same school as his father. He studied music in his spare time. The first work was the opera “Satan's Castle”. Success to Schubert came after the ballad “The Forest Tsar”, created in 1816. A couple of years later, he left his hometown for Zheliz and began giving private music lessons to the daughters of Count Esterhazy. Franz Schubert gave his first and only public concert in 1828, it was the moment of his greatest triumph during his lifetime. However, a little over six months later, the great composer died of typhoid fever.

Despite his short life, Schubert left behind a legacy of nine symphonic works, dozens of chamber and piano pieces, and over 600 songs. One of the most popular and recognizable to this day is his collection “Swan Song”, written shortly before his death.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Rating: 4.8

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart is an outstanding Austrian composer and virtuoso musician in all respects, one of the founders of the classical concert genre. He had a phenomenal talent manifested in very early childhood. Mozart's work had a tremendous impact on the further development of the musical culture of Europe and the entire West. Having lived only 35 years, the young genius left behind about 600 works, most of which are recognized as masterpieces.

Mozart was born into the family of a court violinist and spent his childhood in Salzburg. He began studying music at the age of three, and at the age of five he was already composing his own small pieces. Wishing to develop the talent of the little virtuoso, his father went on a journey with him, during which Beethoven performed with concerts in the houses of various nobility, and in the end he and his father and sister were invited to Vienna, for an audience with Empress Maria Teresa. The composer's youth was spent in creativity and performances. In 1782 he presented his opera “The Abduction from the Seraglio” in the Austrian capital, which quickly became popular, including in neighboring countries.

At the height of his fame, Beethoven combined concert and teaching activities, receiving substantial royalties for both. The most striking creations of this period are considered the operas “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Don Juan”. But after a short time, his fame began to decline, which led to financial difficulties. Yet Mozart worked on music literally for the rest of his life. His last and unfinished work was the famous Requiem.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Rating: 4.9

Ludwig van Beethoven

The legendary composer, representative of the Vienna Classical School, one of the most performed over the centuries and even to this day. He worked in all genres of his time, but the instrumental compositions written by him are considered the most masterpieces.

Beethoven was born and raised in the German city of Bonn. His father was a tenor, and his grandfather was a bandmaster. The composer's first creation was released when he was 12 years old. He actively studied music, but the death of his mother forced the 17-year-old boy to postpone his education and get a job in an orchestra in order to help the family financially. Then Beethoven still continued his studies, attending lectures at the University of Vienna and studying in private. Haydn was his teacher, then he studied with Salieri. From his very first performances, Beethoven earned the fame of a virtuoso, in addition, his style of performance was sharply distinguished by its courage and originality.

During his stay in the Austrian capital, the composer created a large number of piano sonatas, as well as several concerts. In 1796, Beethoven began to lose his hearing due to inflammation of the inner ear, which nearly led him to commit suicide. But fortunately, he refrained from this step and eventually presented the world with his most brilliant works, including the opera “Fidelio”, the Sixth and Ninth Symphonies.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Rating: 5.0

Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach is considered by many to be the greatest composer and organist of all time, whose work served as the foundation for the inspiration of most famous musicians who lived in the next tens and even hundreds of years. During his life, he created more than a thousand compositions of various genres. Most of Bach's works belong to the category of sacred music, since he was a staunch Protestant.

Bach grew up in a family of hereditary musicians, by the age of 10 the boy became an orphan and was raised by his older brother, who taught him to play musical instruments. At the age of 15, he went to study in Luneburg, and after graduating from the vocal school, he took the post of court musician with Duke Ernst in Weimar. Then Bach served as organist in the church, and in his free time he was engaged in writing orchestral works. By the end of his Weimar career, the composer was widely recognized and revered. In 1717, Bach was hired to the post of Kapellmeister by Prince Anhalt-Ketensky. It was then that the famous Bradenburg Concerts were created. And since 1729, the maestro was the head of the Leipzig Collegium of Music.

One of the most complex creations of the genius musician is the cycle “The Art of the Fugue”, during the creation of which Bach applied all his experience and unique talent in writing polyphonic compositions. The cycle was not completely completed, as it was written shortly before the death of the composer. In the last years of his life, his popularity declined and only in the 20th century there was a rethinking of the meaning of his works. Currently, Bach's music is considered the most valuable cultural heritage and is one of the compositions featured on the Voyager spacecraft's gold disc.


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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