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Orchestral Composers:

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) gained international recognition as an inspired conductor and a composer whose emotional expression was typical of late romantic music. An Austrian, Mahler visited the United States towards the end of his life and served for brief periods as conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Music: Symphony No. 1, 4th movement, "The Titan."

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) is widely regarded as the greatest composer who ever lived. He began writing minuets at the age of 5, and by the time of his death at age 35, he had produced 626 cataloged works. This portrait is from a painting in the Bologna Conservatory. Music: Eine Kleine Nachtmusic.

Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924), an Italian composer, has produced some of the world's best opera. His gifts for melodrama and sentimental eroticism, displayed in such works as Tosca and La Boheme, have assured the continued popularity of his work.

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor, made his home in the United States after the Russian Revolution of 1917. As both performer and composer he excelled in a romantic style characterized by flowing melody and massive chords used for stirring dramatic effects.

Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-99) immortalized the Viennese waltz with such compositions as "The Beautiful Blue Danube" and "Tales of the Vienna Woods." He composed his first waltz when he was only 6 years old. Music: The Blue Danube.

Richard Strauss (1864-1949), a German composer-conductor, was the last composer of the romantic tradition. He is best known for his tone poems, such as Thus Spake Zarathustra, and for operas, including Salome and Der Rosenkavalier.

Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (1840-93), probably the most popular 19th century Russian composer, was also the first to have a formal music education. Among his better known works are the ballets Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and the Nutcracker, his opera Eugene Onegin, and the 1812 Overture. Music: The Nutcracker, "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy."

Richard Wagner (1813-1883), regarded as the greatest composer of German opera, used German myths and legends as a basis for his librettos. Tannhauser, Lohengrin, and the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen are among his most admired operas. Music: Die Walkure: Ride of the Valkyries.

The American conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-90) served as musical director of the New York Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969. His best-known works include the musical West Side Story (1957) and Mass, a "theater piece" commissioned for the opening (1971) of the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.

Georges Bizet (1838-75), a 19th century French composer, is best known for his popular operatic masterpiece Carmen. Bizet composed several operas, a symphony, and many other musical works.

Johannes Brahms (1833-97) was a major German composer of instrumental and vocal music during the 19th century. In his works, Brahms combined a profound grasp of technique with the warmth of romanticism.

Aaron Copland (1900-90), one of America's most versatile contemporary composers, wrote such diverse works as the ballet Appalachian Spring (1944) and the film score for Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men (1939). Incorporating jazz and folk elements in his compositions, Copland tried to make contemporary music acceptable to a large public by writing in a specifically American musical idiom.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was the foremost innovative French composer of the late 19th century. He experimented with harmony and created new and strikingly original sounds in his orchestral compositions. Debussy excelled at composing for the piano, and his Preludes for the instrument are notable examples of his work.

The Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) became prominent at a time when many Bohemians were advocating independence from the Austrian Empire. Dvorak reflected this rising spirit of nationalism in his music by drawing much of his inspiration from the folk melodies of his native Bohemia.

Duke Ellington (1899-1974), composer, pianist, and orchestra leader, is considered by many the most important figure in the history and evolution of jazz. A prolific composer and arranger, Ellington extended the form of jazz in works such as Creole Rhapsody (1931) and Black, Brown and Beige (1943). He was a superb innovator in every jazz style he adopted, including bebop, stride, and swing.

Stephen Foster (1826-64) was the most significant composer in the United States in the pre-Civil War period and remains one of America's leading creators of popular songs. He was attracted to Negro songs and later imitated them in many of his compositions, such as "Camptown Races" (1850) and "Swanee River" (also called "Old Folks at Home" 1851).

The American composer George Gershwin (1898-1937), shown on the left, gained renown for his popular Broadway musicals of the 1920s. His brother Ira (1896-1983), shown on the right, wrote the words for most of George's songs, including those for the musicals Lady Be Good (1924), Strike up the Band (1927), and the opera Porgy and Bess (1935).

The German composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47) was considered one of the foremost composers of the early 19th century. Within the confines of classical forms, he created lyrical expressions characteristic of the early romantic movement. Among his most admired works are the overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream (1826), the Scotch symphony (1842), and the violin concerto in E minor (1844).

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), one of the greatest French composers of the early 20th century, was renowned for such compelling works as Gaspard de la nuit (1908) for piano and the immensely popular Bolero (1928). His masterpiece, the ballet Daphnis et Chloe (1909-12), exhibits the strongly individual style, skillful orchestration, and superb craftsmanship that distinguish Ravel's composition.

Robert Schumann was one of the foremost German composers of the romantic era. In his songs, piano works, chamber music, and symphonies, he rendered literary ideas and visual scenes in expressive musical terms. Schumann was also an influential critic who helped launch the careers of Chopin and Brahms.

Dmitry Shostakovich, the most honored Soviet composer, wrote in a postromantic style of poignant and somber melody. His opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (1934) was condemned as decadent by Soviet authorities, but Shostakovich regained official favor during the 1960s.

The Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1810-56) created a highly individual romantic musical style by integrating the spirit of Finnish nationalism with the German romantic tradition. His seven symphonies (1899-1924), for which he is best known, evoke haunting images of the Finnish landscape through intense orchestral harmonies and folk motifs.

The 20th century composer Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) was born in Russia but later emigrated to France and the United States. He achieved success with Firebird, a ballet performed in Paris in 1910, but The Rite of Spring, although now revered as a classic, met with scorn.

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), one of the greatest Italian composers of the 19th century, created operas of dramatic intensity, soaring melody, and subtle characterization. La Traviata (1853), Aida (1871), and Otello (1887) are three of his most highly acclaimed dramatic operas. His works are still among the most popular in the international operatic repertoire.

Bela Bartok (1881-1945), a 20th-century Hungarian composer, was a student and collector of folk music. He combined its rhythmic, melodic, and textural elements with traditional classical forms to produce a highly individual style of composition.

Pianist and bandleader Count Basie (1904-84) was one of the great exponents of swing. He performed with many famous musicians, such as singer Billie Holiday and saxophonist Lester Young. (Verve Records)

Benjamin Britten (1913-76), one of the foremost English composers of the 20th century, was particularly skillful in writing vocal music and opera. A frequent theme in his operas is the conflict between innocence and corruption.

Jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Miles Davis (1926-91), who studied at the Juilliard School, made some of the first "cool" jazz records in 1949-50 with a small jazz group. His best-selling album, Bitches Brew (1970), signaled his success in extending the boundaries of jazz and establishing a style that would be heavily explored by other musicians throughout the 1970s.

Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), a 19th-century Italian composer, produced some 70 operas in addition to sacred and instrumental music. Enormously popular for both comic and serious opera, Donizetti is best known today for such works as Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) and Don Pasquale (1842). The discovery in 1984 of an unknown Donizetti opera, Elisabeth, was a rare event for such a successful composer.

Clarinetist Jimmy (1904-57) and trombonist Tommy (1905-56) Dorsey each led popular swing-era bands that achieved national prominence. Both bands were noted for featuring many of the most skillful soloists of the 1930s and '40s.

Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) is widely regarded as the first internationally prominent English composer since the 17th century. Admired for their brilliant orchestration, Elgar's works include symphonies, concertos, overtures, marches, and oratorios. In 1904, Elgar was knighted by King Edward VII; as master of the king's music, he was made a baronet in 1931.

Dizzy Gillespie (1917-93) is a jazz trumpeter-composer-bandleader who, along with Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, is most noted for creating Bebop. Gillespie has led his own popular groups--from big bop bands to small combos--in tours of the United States and much of the rest of the world.

Bandleader and clarinetist Benny Goodman (1909-86), the "King of Swing" led one of the greatest of the swing-era big bands. He worked with such jazz greats as drummer Gene Krupa and vibraphonist Lionel Hampton.

Alto saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker (1920-55) was one of the seminal influences in the jazz movement known as Bebop. In 1945 he and Dizzy Gillespie made the first definitive bop recordings.

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), a 20th-century Russian composer, combined lyrical beauty and dramatic dissonance in such works as the opera Love for Three Oranges (1921), the ballet Romeo and Juliet (1938), and the symphonic tale Peter and the Wolf (1936). A prolific composer, Prokofiev also wrote concertos, symphonies, and piano sonatas.

Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) was one of the most acclaimed Italian composers of the early 19th century. Among his most famous works are the comic operas The Barber of Seville (1816), and Cinderella (1817), and the influential grand opera William Tell (1829). After 1829, Rossini abandoned the opera and composed only church music and a few secular works.

Hector Berlioz, the French romantic composer, conductor, and critic, is known for his delight in massive sounds produced by huge performing groups, as in his Requiem (1837). Berlioz was a pioneer in the field of orchestration, and his 1844 treatise on the subject greatly influenced later composers.

Gustav Holst was one of the foremost English composers of the early 20th century. The technical mastery and harmonic innovations that distinguish his work are exemplified in his orchestral suite "The Planets" (1914-17). The influence of both Eastern mysticism and English folklore is evident in many of Holst's compositions.

Charles Ives, a 20th-century American composer, was among the first to use the innovative devices polytonality and polyrhythm that dominate later musical composition. He often used traditional American melodies in his compositions, including hymn tunes, patriotic songs, and marches. A highly successful executive, Ives did not publish many of his works until late in life.

The American composer Scott Joplin helped develop the syncopation and rhythmic diversity characteristic of the musical genre known as ragtime. The film The Sting (1973), which featured Joplin's music, excited renewed interest in his life and work. He was posthumously awarded the 1976 Pulitzer Prize in music.

Edward MacDowell, an American composer, musician, and teacher, created many works inspired by poetry.

Franz Schubert, an early-19th-century Austrian composer, is celebrated for his lieder--songs for piano and voice. Although he wrote symphonies, chamber music, and operas, his gift for melodic expression shows best in his lieder, of which he wrote 634. Schubert was not a concert performer or a conductor, and therefore he received limited recognition during his lifetime.

In addition to the marches which earned him the title "The March King," John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) composed and arranged many other types of music and even wrote three novels--The Fifth String (1902), Pipetown Sandy (1905), and Transit of Venus (1920).

Avant-garde American composer John Cage (1912-92) has left an indelible mark on 20th-century music through his experiments with nonmusical sounds and the element of chance.

French experimental composer and conductor Pierre Boulez (1925- ) is considered the principal spokesman for the European avant-garde composers who entered the world musical scene in the 1950s.

The American-born violinist Yehudi Menuhin (1916- ), who gave his first concert at the age of seven, supports and helps maintain various educational and philanthropic institutions, while remaining an active virtuoso musician and conductor.

The internationally acclaimed concert pianist Vladimir Horowitz (1904-89) was known for Romantic pianism and great technical virtuosity. A delicate man, Horowitz withdrew from concertizing for years at a time.

Nicolo Paganini (1782-1840) was an Italian violinist and composer. His first performance outside of Italy (Vienna, 1928) brought the first of many hysterically enthusiastic receptions he received in Germany, France, and England.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was a great Russian composer of the late 19th century. He challenged the musical tastes of his time by adopting elements of folk music in such works as The Snow Maiden (1882), containing echoes of traditional Slavonic melodies. Scheherazade (1888) evokes an Oriental atmosphere.

Though Henry Purcell (1659-95) lived a very short life, he remains one of England's most important composers. Purcell wrote in a recognizably English style, and his large body of work includes choral music, chamber music, songs, operas, and theater music.

Clara (1819-96) and Robert (1810-56) Schumann played a large if not vital role in 19th-century music, both as virtuoso pianists, Robert as a major composer and critic and champion of Johannes Brahms (1833-97), Frederic Chopin (1810-49), and others.

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