The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Composers of all time. This list of famous Composers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Composers.
With an HPI of 93.63, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is the most famous Composer. His biography has been translated into 209 different languages on wikipedia.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756 – 5 December 1791), baptised as Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period. Despite his short life, his rapid pace of composition resulted in more than 800 works of virtually every genre of his time. Many of these compositions are acknowledged as pinnacles of the symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral repertoire. Mozart is widely regarded as among the greatest composers in the history of Western music, with his music admired for its "melodic beauty, its formal elegance and its richness of harmony and texture".Born in Salzburg, in the Holy Roman Empire, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. His father took him on a grand tour of Europe and then three trips to Italy. At 17, he was a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, Mozart was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He stayed in Vienna, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years there, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas. His Requiem was largely unfinished by the time of his death at the age of 35, the circumstances of which are largely uncertain and much mythologized.
With an HPI of 85.86, Franz Schubert is the 2nd most famous Composer. His biography has been translated into 129 different languages.
Franz Peter Schubert (German: [ˈfʁant͡s ˈpeːtɐ ˈʃuːbɐt]; 31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his short lifetime, Schubert left behind a vast oeuvre, including more than 600 secular vocal works (mainly lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music, and a large body of piano and chamber music. His major works include "Erlkönig" (D. 328), the Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667 (Trout Quintet), the Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 (Unfinished Symphony), the "Great" Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944, the String Quintet (D. 956), the three last piano sonatas (D. 958–960), the opera Fierrabras (D. 796), the incidental music to the play Rosamunde (D. 797), and the song cycles Die schöne Müllerin (D. 795) and Winterreise (D. 911). Born in the Himmelpfortgrund suburb of Vienna, Schubert showed uncommon gifts for music from an early age. His father gave him his first violin lessons and his elder brother gave him piano lessons, but Schubert soon exceeded their abilities. In 1808, at the age of eleven, he became a pupil at the Stadtkonvikt school, where he became acquainted with the orchestral music of Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. He left the Stadtkonvikt at the end of 1813, and returned home to live with his father, where he began studying to become a schoolteacher. Despite this, he continued his studies in composition with Antonio Salieri and still composed prolifically. In 1821, Schubert was admitted to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde as a performing member, which helped establish his name among the Viennese citizenry. He gave a concert of his own works to critical acclaim in March 1828, the only time he did so in his career. He died eight months later at the age of 31, the cause officially attributed to typhoid fever, but believed by some historians to be syphilis. Appreciation of Schubert's music while he was alive was limited to a relatively small circle of admirers in Vienna, but interest in his work increased greatly in the decades following his death. Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms and other 19th-century composers discovered and championed his works. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers in the history of Western music and his work continues to be admired.
With an HPI of 85.57, Joseph Haydn is the 3rd most famous Composer. His biography has been translated into 122 different languages.
Franz Joseph Haydn ( HY-dən, German: [ˈfʁants ˈjoːzɛf ˈhaɪdn̩] (listen); 31 March 1732 – 31 May 1809) was an Austrian composer of the Classical period. He was instrumental in the development of chamber music such as the string quartet and piano trio. His contributions to musical form have led him to be called "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet".Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family at their Eszterháza Castle. Until the later part of his life, this isolated him from other composers and trends in music so that he was, as he put it, "forced to become original". Yet his music circulated widely, and for much of his career he was the most celebrated composer in Europe. He was a friend and mentor of Mozart, a tutor of Beethoven, and the elder brother of composer Michael Haydn.
With an HPI of 77.66, Johann Strauss II is the 4th most famous Composer. His biography has been translated into 81 different languages.
Johann Baptist Strauss II (25 October 1825 – 3 June 1899), also known as Johann Strauss Jr., the Younger, the Son (German: Sohn), was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas and a ballet. In his lifetime, he was known as "The Waltz King", and was largely responsible for the popularity of the waltz in Vienna during the 19th century. Some of Johann Strauss's most famous works include "The Blue Danube", "Kaiser-Walzer" (Emperor Waltz), "Tales from the Vienna Woods", "Frühlingsstimmen", and the "Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka". Among his operettas, Die Fledermaus and Der Zigeunerbaron are the best known. Strauss was the son of Johann Strauss I and his first wife Maria Anna Streim. Two younger brothers, Josef and Eduard Strauss, also became composers of light music, although they were never as well known as their brother.
With an HPI of 76.60, Johann Strauss I is the 5th most famous Composer. His biography has been translated into 55 different languages.
Johann Baptist Strauss I (German: Johann Baptist Strauß, Johann Strauss (Vater); also , Johann Strauss Sr., the Elder, the Father; 14 March 1804 – 25 September 1849) was an Austrian composer of the Romantic Period. He was famous for his light music, namely waltzes, polkas, and galops, which he popularized alongside Joseph Lanner, thereby setting the foundations for his sons—Johann, Josef and Eduard—to carry on his musical dynasty. He is best known for his composition of the Radetzky March (named after Joseph Radetzky von Radetz).
With an HPI of 74.74, Anton Bruckner is the 6th most famous Composer. His biography has been translated into 78 different languages.
Josef Anton Bruckner (German: [ˈantoːn ˈbʁʊknɐ] (listen); 4 September 1824 – 11 October 1896) was an Austrian composer, organist, and music theorist best known for his symphonies, masses, Te Deum and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, strongly polyphonic character, and considerable length. Bruckner's compositions helped to define contemporary musical radicalism, owing to their dissonances, unprepared modulations, and roving harmonies. Unlike other musical radicals such as Richard Wagner and Hugo Wolf, Bruckner showed extreme humility before other musicians, Wagner in particular. This apparent dichotomy between Bruckner the man and Bruckner the composer hampers efforts to describe his life in a way that gives a straightforward context for his music. Hans von Bülow described him as "half genius, half simpleton". Bruckner was critical of his own work and often reworked his compositions. There are several versions of many of his works. His works, the symphonies in particular, had detractors, most notably the influential Austrian critic Eduard Hanslick and other supporters of Johannes Brahms, who pointed to their large size and use of repetition, as well as to Bruckner's propensity for revising many of his works, often with the assistance of colleagues, and his apparent indecision about which versions he preferred. On the other hand, Bruckner was greatly admired by subsequent composers, including his friend Gustav Mahler.
With an HPI of 74.57, Arnold Schoenberg is the 7th most famous Composer. His biography has been translated into 67 different languages.
Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg (, US also ; German: [ˈʃøːnbɛɐ̯k] (listen); 13 September 1874 – 13 July 1951) was an Austrian-American composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. He is widely considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School. As a Jewish composer, Schoenberg was targeted by the Nazi Party, which labeled his works as degenerate music and forbade them from being published. He immigrated to the United States in 1933, becoming an American citizen in 1941. Schoenberg's approach, bοth in terms of harmony and development, has shaped much of 20th-century musical thought. Many composers from at least three generations have consciously extended his thinking, whereas others have passionately reacted against it. Schoenberg was known early in his career for simultaneously extending the traditionally opposed German Romantic styles of Brahms and Wagner. Later, his name would come to personify innovations in atonality (although Schoenberg himself detested that term) that would become the most polemical feature of 20th-century classical music. In the 1920s, Schoenberg developed the twelve-tone technique, an influential compositional method of manipulating an ordered series of all twelve notes in the chromatic scale. He also coined the term developing variation and was the first modern composer to embrace ways of developing motifs without resorting to the dominance of a centralized melodic idea. Schoenberg was also an influential teacher of composition; his students included Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Hanns Eisler, Egon Wellesz, Nikos Skalkottas, Stefania Turkewich, and later John Cage, Lou Harrison, Earl Kim, Robert Gerhard, Leon Kirchner, Dika Newlin, Oscar Levant, and other prominent musicians. Many of Schoenberg's practices, including the formalization of compositional method and his habit of openly inviting audiences to think analytically, are echoed in avant-garde musical thought throughout the 20th century. His often polemical views of music history and aesthetics were crucial to many significant 20th-century musicologists and critics, including Theodor W. Adorno, Charles Rosen, and Carl Dahlhaus, as well as the pianists Artur Schnabel, Rudolf Serkin, Eduard Steuermann, and Glenn Gould. Schoenberg's archival legacy is collected at the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna.
With an HPI of 71.71, Anton Webern is the 8th most famous Composer. His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.
Anton Friedrich Wilhelm von Webern (3 December 1883 – 15 September 1945), better known as Anton Webern (German: [ˈantoːn ˈveːbɐn] (listen)), was an Austrian composer whose music was among the most radical of its milieu in its sheer concision and steadfast embrace of then novel atonal and twelve-tone techniques. With his mentor Arnold Schoenberg and his colleague Alban Berg, Webern was at the core of those within the broader circle of the Second Viennese School, which included, among others, Theodor W. Adorno, Heinrich Jalowetz, and Ernst Krenek. Little known in the earlier part of his life, mostly as a conductor with mixed reputation, he came to prominence and increasingly high regard as a composer, teacher, vocal coach, choirmaster, and especially as a conductor mostly during Red Vienna. Webern's work influenced contemporaries Luigi Dallapiccola, Krenek, and importantly even Schoenberg himself. As a tutor, Webern guided and variously influenced Arnold Elston, Frederick Dorian (Friederich Deutsch), Matty Niël, Fré Focke, Karl Amadeus Hartmann, Philipp Herschkowitz, René Leibowitz, Humphrey Searle, Leopold Spinner, and Stefan Wolpe. Amid Austrofascism, Nazism, and World War II, Webern remained nevertheless committed to taking the "path to the new music," as he styled it in a series of private lectures delivered in 1932–1933 (but unpublished until 1960); and he continued to write some of his most mature and later celebrated music while being increasingly ostracized from official musical life as a "cultural Bolshevist," being reduced to taking occasional copyist jobs from his publisher, Universal Edition, as he lost students and his conducting career. Following his death shortly after World War II, Webern became more widely celebrated and influential than ever before, albeit through pedagogy often lacking full context, and his work was taken by composers in directions far beyond any residual Postromanticism and Expressionism on the path to the new music indeed. His gradual innovations in schematic organization of pitch, rhythm, register, timbre, dynamics, articulation, and melodic contour; his later adaptation and generalization of imitative contrapuntal techniques such as canon and fugue; and his inclination toward athematicism, abstraction, and lyricism all greatly informed and oriented European, typically serial or avant-garde composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono, Bruno Maderna, Henri Pousseur, and György Ligeti. Less so in the United States, meanwhile, his music attracted the interest of Elliott Carter, whose critical ambivalence was marked by a certain enthusiasm nonetheless; Milton Babbitt, who ultimately derived more inspiration from Schoenberg's twelve-tone practice than that of Webern; and particularly Igor Stravinsky, to whom it was very fruitfully reintroduced by Robert Craft, and without which Stravinsky's late works might have taken different shape. Among the more cosmopolitan and interdisciplinary New York School, John Cage and Morton Feldman both cited the staggering effect of its sound on their own music, first meeting at a performance of the Symphony, Op. 21, and even singing the praises of Christian Wolff distinctly as "our Webern." A richer and more historically informed understanding of Webern and his music began to emerge during the latter half of the 20th century onward in the work of scholars Kathryn Bailey, Julian Johnson, Felix Meyer, and Anne Shreffler as archivists and biographers, most importantly Hans and Rosaleen Moldenhauer, gained access to sketches, letters, lectures, audio recordings, and other articles of or associated with Webern's estate.
With an HPI of 71.19, Carl Czerny is the 9th most famous Composer. His biography has been translated into 46 different languages.
Carl Czerny (German: [ˈtʃɛʁniː]; 21 February 1791 – 15 July 1857) was an Austrian composer, teacher, and pianist of Czech origin whose music spanned the late Classical and early Romantic eras. His vast musical production amounted to over a thousand works and his books of studies for the piano are still widely used in piano teaching. He was one of Ludwig van Beethoven's best-known pupils.
With an HPI of 70.23, Alban Berg is the 10th most famous Composer. His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.
Alban Maria Johannes Berg ( BAIRG, German: [ˈalbaːn ˈbɛʁk]; 9 February 1885 – 24 December 1935) was an Austrian composer of the Second Viennese School. His compositional style combined Romantic lyricism with the twelve-tone technique. Although he left a relatively small oeuvre, he is remembered as one of the most important composers of the 20th century for his expressive style encompassing "entire worlds of emotion and structure".Berg was born and lived in Vienna. He began to compose only at the age of fifteen. He studied counterpoint, music theory and harmony with Arnold Schoenberg between 1904 and 1911, and adopted his principles of developing variation and the twelve-tone technique. Berg's major works include the operas Wozzeck (1924) and Lulu (1935, finished posthumously), the chamber pieces Lyric Suite and Chamber Concerto, as well as a Violin Concerto. He also composed a number of songs (lieder). He is said to have brought more "human values" to the twelve-tone system, his works seen as more "emotional" than Schoenberg's. His music had a surface glamour that won him admirers when Schoenberg himself had few.Berg died from sepsis in 1935.
Pantheon has 61 people classified as composers born between 1620 and 1968. Of these 61, 3 (4.92%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living composers include Georg Friedrich Haas, Harald Kloser, and Olga Neuwirth. The most famous deceased composers include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, and Joseph Haydn. As of April 2022, 3 new composers have been added to Pantheon including Joseph Leopold Eybler, Joseph Hellmesberger Sr., and Olga Neuwirth.
1756 - 1791
1797 - 1828
1732 - 1809
1825 - 1899
1804 - 1849
1824 - 1896
1874 - 1951
1883 - 1945
1791 - 1857
1885 - 1935
1791 - 1844
1879 - 1964
Which Composers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Composers since 1700.