Classical Composers You Might Not Have Heard Of

There are more composers out in the world aside from the usual Beethoven, Bach and Mozart. The only problem is where to start with the plethora of music available.

I have a number of my favourite less-known composers I’d love to introduce you to today.

comp-boshBohuslav Martinu (1890-1959) was a Czech composer.

While his style was deeply entrenched in the Romantic style of composition (think big symphonies and lush orchestral sounds), he also experimented with modern musical ideas. This interesting blend of ideas has created a musical world all of his own.

A good place to start is the Complete Symphonies performed by the BBC Symphony. There’s also the Dancing Jazz album which looks at his flirtations with Jazz.

comp-francFrancois Devienne (1759-1803) is the opposite end of the spectrum. He was professor of flute at the Paris Conservatoire and proficient on most of the woodwind instruments. As a result much of his music is understandably skewed towards the woodwind family. Galante in style, they have a freshness about them that is hard to find in music of any period.

Matthieu Lussier is making a point to record many of Devienne’s works, with two albums currently available. If you’re interested then first have a listen to the six sonatas for Bassoon and Continuo, followed by the Six Trios of Op 17.

comp-carlThis one might be considered cheating a little bit. Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) is becoming more renowned around the world with recordings from the London Symphony Orchestra of his symphonies, as well as his increasing popularity with performers themselves.

This man had a terrific sense of humour, instantly recognisable in his music. A seamless blend of Romanticism, patriotism (to his native Denmark), contemporary classical ideas and his own personality - here are some really terrific works.

You’ve got a great smorgasbord in the two disc compilation celebrating 20th Century Classics. However, I’d recommend a listen to the London Symphony Orchestra recordings. So far we have Symphonies 2, 3 and Symphonies 4 & 5.

comp-clauClaude Bolling (1930) is still alive and although not composing a lot nowadays, his compositions are still extremely popular with enthusiasts both of the professional and amateur musicians.

I think his most famous work is the Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano, made famous by Jean-Pierre Rampal. If you don’t know it, you’re in for a treat this is an amazing work blending the two worlds of Jazz and Classical in a way unparalleled by anything else.

comp-elenaElena Kats-Chernin (1975) is one of our fantastic local composers based here in Australia. She has a broad range of repertoire, ranging from choral, solo piano and a great place to start is the new recording from the Acacia Quartet called Blue Silence of her String Quartets.

Although her Ragtime and Blues album has her most famous work, Russian Rag.

There are a number of other composers I haven’t mentioned here. Malcolm Arnold, George Enescu and Cesar Franck are three more just off the top of my head. And there must be many more I haven’t yet discovered. So, start exploring.

Kate Rockstrom is our Classical Music Specialist.