Classical Composers

Johann Sebastian Bach picture (head) On mfiles we are steadily building up a list of classical composers with biographical details, an overview of their main works, and an understanding of their importance in the development of music. Where possible we will also include examples of well-known music written by those composer, including sheet music, midi and mp3 files. For some more recent composers we are unable to provide sheet music for copyright reasons, but instead we will include links to recordings, videos and other material where you can learn more about the composers. Before looking at our biographies of classical composers, you may wish to take a look at this stunning Classical Composers Poster, and here is our Pinterest Board with images of Classical Composers.

Classical Composers listed on mfiles

  • Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909) Spanish composer writing many piano works based on folk styles
  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788) keyboard specialist, transitional from Baroque to Classical, son of J.S.Bach
  • Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) prolific, influential composer of the Baroque period and master of counterpoint
  • Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) influential composer who became deaf yet set the scene for the Romantic era
  • Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) romantic composer composing on a grand scale and writing books on conducting & orchestration
  • Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) Italian cellist and Classical era composer, famous for his minuet in particular
  • Georges Bizet (1838-1875) French composer most famous for his opera Carmen
  • Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) well-connected composer who took Beethoven's forms in new Romantic directions
  • William Byrd (c. 1540-1623) English Renaissance composer and pupil of Tallis, became Catholic under the reign of Elizabeth I
  • Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) Polish composer who settled in France, famous for his exquisite piano works
  • Claude Debussy (1862-1918) French composer who helped to establish the Impressionist style of music
  • Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) Czech composer who integrated Bohemian folk styles with classical traditions
  • Edward Elgar (1857-1934) self-taught English Romantic composer who launched a new wave of English music
  • Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) refined French romantic composer and teacher, who became director of the Paris Conservatoire
  • John Field (1782-1837) influential Irish pianist and composer who was famous for his Nocturnes
  • Edvard Grieg (1843-1907) Norwegian composer and pianist who used his national folk stories and musical traditions
  • George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) German-British composer of oratorios, concerti, and music for royal events
  • Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) prolific composer who set the foundations for Symphonies, String Quartets and Sonatas
  • Gyorgy Ligeti (1923-2006) Hungarian/Romanian composer whose atmospheric works were used by Stanley Kubrick
  • Franz Liszt (1811-1886) well-connected, influential composer and virtuoso pianist who married Wagner's daughter
  • Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) Austrian composer and conductor who took the Romantic era to a new height
  • Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) important composer of the early Romantic era who led a revival of Bach's music
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) musical prodigy and prolific genious who died before his time
  • Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) Russian composer, and key member of "The Five" Russian Nationalists
  • Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) Baroque era composer from Germany most famous for his "Canon in D"
  • Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) Russian composer of 7 symphonies, some film music and many familiar works
  • Henry Purcell (1659-1695) English Baroque composer, whose music has been adapted by later composers
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) Russian Late Romantic Composer and Pianist who later settled in America
  • Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) French multi-talented composer who was the first major composer to write a film score
  • Erik Satie (1866-1925) French composer and pianist, regarded as eccentric but highly influential
  • Franz Schubert (1797-1828) shy Austrian composer who died young but left 9 symphonies and many songs
  • Robert Schumann (1810-1856) German composer who suffered mental illness but was ably supported by his wife Clara
  • Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) Russian composer who worked under the Soviet regime, and quietly rebelled against it
  • Fernando Sor (1778-1839) Spanish composer and guitarist, who translated classical methods into classical guitar
  • Richard Strauss (1864-1949) late Romantic composer, famous for his many Symphonic Poems
  • Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585) English Elizabethan composer, some of whose hymns are still sung today
  • Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909) Spanish composer and guitarist, the father of classical guitar
  • Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) Russian composer of many well-known works, especially ballets
  • Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) Italian (Venetian) composer of many concertos, famous for The Four Seasons
  • Richard Wagner (1813-1883) influential operatic composer from the height of the Romantic era
  • Scott Joplin (1868-1917) African American composer and pianist most famous for his Ragtime piano works

Articles about Classical Composers

We also publish occasional articles about classical composers, including personal views by our contributors or a detailed look at certain aspects of their life and work.

Film Composers with Classical associations (or vice versa)

We don't want to get into a pointless debate about where classical music stops and film music begins, but there are a number of 20th century composers who have been involved in writing film music and also a number of film composers who have written classical music. In addition there are some notable musicians, conductors and interpreters of classical music who also composed for film. Here are some composers who are listed in the film music section but also have an association with classical music, either as a composer or conductor.