19th Century Musicians

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Musicians, including Frédéric Chopin, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Richard Wagner, Jeanne Calment and Franz Liszt

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven.
20
Famous As: Composer, Pianist
Birthdate: December 16, 1770
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bonn, Germany
Died: March 26, 1827

German composer and pianist, Ludwig van Beethoven, remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music even two centuries after his death. Born into a musical family, he was initially tutored by his father. He found success early as a pianist and went on to become an admired composer despite suffering from hearing-impairment.

 2 Frédéric Chopin

Frédéric Chopin.
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: March 1, 1810
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Żelazowa Wola
Died: October 17, 1849

Romantic Era virtuoso pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin, nicknamed The Poet of the Piano, is remembered as the inventor of the instrumental ballade. The legendary composer mostly created solo piano masterpieces but also experimented with piano concertos and chamber pieces. He was influenced by Bach, Mozart, and Polish folk music.

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 3 Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner.
4
Famous As: Composer, conductor, theatre director
Birthdate: May 22, 1813
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leipzig
Died: February 13, 1883
German composer and conductor Richard Wagner is best remembered for his operas and music dramas. He explored the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, which combined many forms of art, including the visual, poetic, and musical. He also established the opera house Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which hosted his works The Ring and Parsifal.

 4 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: May 7, 1840
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Votkinsk, Russia
Died: November 6, 1893

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was the first Russian composer to place Russian music on the international stage. Often described as a musician who transcended the stereotypes of classical Russian music, Tchaikovsky is credited with making the Western world take note of Russian music. Although he was criticized by the critics, his popularity among the public never faded.

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 5 Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy.
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: August 22, 1862
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Died: March 25, 1918

Claude Debussy was a French composer whose career spanned over 30 years. Regarded as one of the most influential composers of his generation, Claude Debussy's works have influenced several other composers, such as Bill Evans, George Benjamin, Olivier Messiaen, and Béla Bartók. Claude Debussy is also regarded as the first Impressionist composer, though he rejected the term.

 6 Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt.
6
Famous As: Composer, pianist, conductor and teacher
Birthdate: October 22, 1811
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Raiding, Hungary
Died: July 31, 1886

Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer, conductor, arranger, music teacher, and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era. Considered one of the greatest pianists ever, Liszt's works influenced his contemporaries and successors alike. Perhaps his greatest legacy is his work as a teacher, although his rich body of work might suggest otherwise; he taught people like Karl Klindworth among other pianists.

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 7 Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms.
4
Famous As: Composer, pianist
Birthdate: May 7, 1833
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: April 3, 1897
German composer, conductor, and pianist Johannes Brahms is considered as one of the "Three Bs" of music, the other two being Bach and Beethoven. He was known for his perfectionism. Some of his best-known works are Saint Anthony Variations and A German Requiem. His work mingled traditional and modern elements.
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 8 Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann.
4
Famous As: Composer, Pianist & Music Critic
Birthdate: June 8, 1810
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Zwickau, Germany
Died: July 29, 1856
Robert Schumann was a German pianist, music critic, and composer. An influential musician of the Romantic era, Schumann is considered one of the greatest composers of the era. Schumann was initially focused on becoming the finest pianist in Europe. However, a hand injury brought an end to his dream, forcing him to focus on composing.

 9 Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi.
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: October 10, 1813
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Le Roncole
Died: January 27, 1901

Legendary Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi is best remembered for his masterpieces such as Requiem, Rigoletto, Falstaff, and Otello. He was also briefly associated with the Risorgimento movement meant to unify Italy and thus composed many choruses reflecting the spirit. He was inspired by composers such as Bellini and Donizetti.

 10 Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky.
5
Famous As: Composer, Pianist & Conductor
Birthdate: June 17, 1882
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lomonosov, Russia
Died: April 6, 1971

Four-time Grammy-winning Russian composer and pianist Igor Stravinsky is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. He is remembered for his ballets The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring. He broke the traditional flow of music and incorporated his own style.

 11 Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel.
3
Famous As: Composer, Pianist
Birthdate: March 7, 1875
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ciboure, France
Died: December 28, 1937
French impressionist composer Maurice Ravel is best known for his orchestral composition Boléro. He rejected the Legion d'honneur and all French awards. He was one the first composers to realize the importance of recording music to gain a wider reach. Most of his music consisted of piano and orchestration.

 12 Erik Satie

Erik Satie.
3
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: May 17, 1866
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Honfleur
Died: July 1, 1925

Erik Satie was a French pianist and composer. An influential artist during his time, Satie's works served as a predecessor to later artistic movements like repetitive music, minimalism, and the Theatre of the Absurd. Apart from being a musician, Erik Satie was also a prolific writer, who contributed to publications, such as Vanity Fair and 391.

 13 Sergei Prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev.
3
Famous As: Composer and pianist
Birthdate: April 23, 1891
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Krasne, Ukraine
Died: March 5, 1953

Sergei Prokofiev was a Russian Soviet pianist, composer, and conductor. Renowned for creating masterpieces across various genres, Prokofiev is widely considered one of the 20th century's major composers. Many other composers like Arthur Honegger have called Prokofiev the greatest contemporary musician of all time. An open pianists' competition, which is held every year in Ukraine, is named after Sergei Prokofiev.

 14 Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Dvořák.
5
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: September 8, 1841
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nelahozeves, Prague, Czechia
Died: May 1, 1904

Antonín Dvořák was a Czech composer who achieved worldwide recognition for his works. His life and career inspired the 1980 historical biographical film Concert at the End of Summer, in which Dvořák was played by actor Josef Vinklář. Canadian children's author Ian Krykorka has based many of his works on some of Antonín Dvořák's operas.

 15 Felix Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn
5
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 3, 1809
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: November 4, 1847

 16 Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Puccini.
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: December 22, 1858
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lucca
Died: November 29, 1924

Born into a musical dynasty, composer Giacomo Puccini lost his father at age 5. Some of his best opera pieces include Madama Butterfly and La Bohème. The suicide of his maid, who was wrongly accused by his wife of being in an affair with him, affected his later career adversely.

 17 Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg.
4
Famous As: Pianist, Composer
Birthdate: June 15, 1843
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bergen, Norway
Died: September 4, 1907
Regarded as Norway’s Shakespeare, musical legend Edvard Grieg learned the piano from his mother. The Scottish claim he was their own, as Grieg’s Scottish grandfather had migrated to Norway. Grieg was known for his compositions such as the Piano Concerto and for infusing Norwegian folk elements into his music.

 18 Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius.
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: December 8, 1865
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hämeenlinna, Finland
Died: September 20, 1957

Jean Sibelius was a Finnish violinist and composer. Widely regarded as Finland's greatest composer, Sibelius' music is credited with having kindled nationalism in Finland during the country's struggle for independence from Russia. His work has inspired other important composers like Douglas Lilburn. The International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition, which is held every five years, is named after him.

 19 Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire.
4
Famous As: Dancer
Birthdate: May 10, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Omaha
Died: June 22, 1987

Fred Astaire was an American actor, television presenter, dancer, choreographer, and singer. Widely regarded as the most influential dancer in film history, Astaire was known for his innovation, perfectionism, and an uncanny sense of rhythm. Also known for his fashion sense, Fred Astaire remained a male fashion icon throughout his career, which spanned more than seven decades.

 20 Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington.
4
Famous As: Composer, Pianist and Bandleader
Birthdate: April 29, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Died: May 24, 1974
Jazz legend Duke Ellington managed his orchestra till his death, and over a 6-decade-long career. He is known for his collaborations with legends such as pianist and composer Billy Strayhorn. He termed his music “American music” and refused to attach any category to it. He received a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

 21 Edward Elgar

Edward Elgar.
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: June 2, 1857
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Broadheath
Died: February 23, 1934

 22 Florence Foster Jenkins

Florence Foster Jenkins.
4
Famous As: Socialite
Birthdate: July 19, 1868
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: November 26, 1944

Florence Foster Jenkins was an American socialite who was often ridiculed and mocked for her poor singing ability, which in turn made her popular. Known as the world's worst opera singer, Jenkins became a musical cult-figure in New York City due to her technical incompetence as an amateur soprano. Her life inspired several plays and films, including Florence Foster Jenkins.

 23 Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz.
3
Famous As: Music Composer
Birthdate: December 11, 1803
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: La Côte-Saint-André, France
Died: March 8, 1869

Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic conductor and composer who was highly regarded in places like Russia, Britain, and Germany. Although he did not achieve fame as a composer, Berlioz became renowned internationally for his skills as a conductor. He also wrote musical journalism, which includes his influential work, Treatise on Instrumentation. 

 24 Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams.
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: October 12, 1872
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Down Ampney, England
Died: August 26, 1958

 25 Cole Porter

Cole Porter.
4
Famous As: Composer, Songwriter
Birthdate: June 9, 1891
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Peru, Indiana, United States
Died: October 15, 1964
Singer-songwriter Cole Porter is best known for his work in the Tony-winning musical, Kiss Me, Kate and for his hit tracks Night and Day, Got You Under My Skin, and You're the Top. He also composed for movies. His marriage to Linda Lee Thomas was a cover for his homosexuality.

 26 Aleksandr Scriabin

Aleksandr Scriabin.
3
Famous As: Composer, Pianist
Birthdate: December 25, 1871
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: April 14, 1915

Russian composer and pianist Aleksandr Scriabin is considered one of the most innovative and controversial of early modern composers. Interested in music from an early age, he built pianos as a young man and didn’t take long to establish himself as a brilliant composer. Unfortunately, he died at the height of his career, at the age of just 43. 

 27 Jimmy Durante

Jimmy Durante.
3
Famous As: Actor, Comedian, Singer, Pianist
Birthdate: February 10, 1893
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn
Died: January 29, 1980

Jimmy Durante was an American comedian, actor, singer, and pianist. Widely regarded as one of America's most popular and familiar personalities of all time, Durante was often characterized by his Lower East Side accent, gravelly speech, and a prominent nose. Also known for his charitable work, Durante worked closely with Fraternal Order of Eagles, which raises money for abused children.

 28 Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey
11
Famous As: Street artist, Musician
Birthdate: April 26, 1886
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Alabama
Died: December 22, 1939

 29 Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin
3
Famous As: Street artist, Composer, Pianist, Songwriter, Screenwriter, Film score composer
Birthdate: May 11, 1888
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tyumen
Died: September 22, 1989

Irving Berlin was a composer and lyricist. He made tremendous contributions to the Great American Songbook and is widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history. He had an extensive career spanning six decades, during which he composed an estimated 1,500 songs. He received the Lawrence Langner Tony Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. 

 30 Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin.
3
Famous As: Composer and Pianist
Birthdate: November 24, 1868
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Northeast Texas
Died: April 1, 1917
Composer and pianist Scott Joplin, or the King of Ragtime, had written more than 100 original ragtime pieces. His most iconic piece was the Maple Leaf Rag. He had also written two operas, including Treemonisha. He was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. The film The Sting featured his compositions.

 31 Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns.
3
Famous As: Composer, Organist, Pianist
Birthdate: October 9, 1835
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris
Died: December 16, 1921
French composer and multi-instrumentalist Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was an icon of the Romantic era, known for masterpieces such as the First Cello Concerto and the opera Samson and Delilah. He was initially a church organist and then became a freelance composer and pianist. He also taught music in Paris.

 32 Charles Ives

Charles Ives.
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: October 20, 1874
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Danbury, Connecticut
Died: May 19, 1954

 33 Edgard Varese

Edgard Varese.
2
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: December 22, 1883
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 6, 1965

 34 Alban Berg

Alban Berg.
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 9, 1885
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: December 24, 1935
Nineteenth-century Austrian composer Alban Berg hadn’t had any formal training in music when he began composing. Owing to his poor financial condition, Arnold Schoenberg taught him music for free. He is best remembered for his twelve-tone technique. He tragically died of blood poisoning caused by an insect bite.

 35 John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa.
3
Famous As: Conductor, Composer
Birthdate: November 6, 1854
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Died: March 6, 1932

 36 Johann Strauss II

Johann Strauss II
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: October 25, 1825
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Neubau, Vienna, Austria
Died: June 3, 1899

Johann Strauss II, also known as The Waltz King, was initially pushed by his composer father Johann Strauss I to become a banker, while he learned the violin secretly and conducted a restaurant band. Best remembered for his iconic composition The Blue Danube, he redefined the 19th-century waltzes and operettas.

 37 Leos Janacek

Leos Janacek.
2
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: July 3, 1854
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hukvaldy, Czechia
Died: August 10, 1928

Leos Janacek was a Czech composer, musical theorist, folklorist, and teacher. He is credited to have created an original, modern musical style inspired by Moravian and other Slavic folk music. He was deeply influenced by folklore and by the works of his contemporary and friend,  Antonín Dvořák. The Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra is named in his honor. 

 38 Gustavus Theodore von Holst

Gustavus Theodore von Holst.
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: September 21, 1874
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cheltenham
Died: May 25, 1934

 39 Ernest II

Ernest II
4
Famous As: Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Birthdate: June 21, 1818
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Coburg, Germany
Died: August 22, 1893

Ernest II, the eldest son of Duke Ernest I, had been the duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He was quite close to his brother, Prince Albert, consort to England’s Queen Victoria. Best known for his support of the German unification, he was also a skilled composer of operas and an avid sports lover.

 40 George M. Cohan

George M. Cohan.
3
Famous As: American playwright
Birthdate: July 3, 1878
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Died: November 5, 1942

 41 Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster.
3
Famous As: Composer, Lyricist
Birthdate: July 4, 1826
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania United States
Died: January 13, 1864

 42 Jimmie Rodgers

Jimmie Rodgers
3
Famous As: Singer-songwriter and musician
Birthdate: September 8, 1897
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Meridian, Mississippi, United States
Died: May 26, 1933

 43 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: March 18, 1844
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tikhvin, Russia
Died: June 21, 1908

While he grew up listening to Russian folk songs and church music, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov later joined the navy with his brother. One of the legendary Russian composers known as The Mighty Handful, he is remembered for his pieces such as Flight of the Bumblebee from the opera Tsar Saltan.

 44 Clara Wieck Schumann

Clara Wieck Schumann.
3
Famous As: Musician & Composer
Birthdate: September 13, 1819
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Leipzig
Died: May 20, 1896

Clara Wieck Schumann was a German pianist, teacher, and composer. One of the most famous pianists of the Romantic era, Schumann changed the way concerts were conducted during her time and made a long-lasting impression as a pianist. She also influenced other pianists through her teaching; among her students were famous English pianist, Mathilde Verne.

 45 Georges Bizet

Georges Bizet.
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: October 25, 1838
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: June 3, 1875

Georges Bizet was a French composer whose career was cut short by his untimely demise at the age of 36. Since his death in 1875, Bizet's final work Carmen has become one of the most frequently performed works in the opera repertoire. Although he couldn’t achieve success during his lifetime, Bizet's death is considered a loss to French musical theatre.

 46 Modest Mussorgsky

Modest Mussorgsky.
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: March 21, 1839
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Karevo, Russia
Died: March 28, 1881

Modest Mussorgsky was a Russian composer best remembered for being part of a renowned 19th-century Russian composers group known as The Five. An innovator of Russian music, Mussorgsky worked towards achieving a Russian musical identity that challenged the already established Western music, which was generally considered conventional at that time.

 47 Gabriel Fauré

Gabriel Fauré.
3
Famous As: French Composer & Pianist
Birthdate: May 12, 1845
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pamiers, Ariège, Midi-Pyrénées, France
Died: November 4, 1924

One of the greatest composers of all time, French pianist and organist Gabriel Fauré is best remembered for his masterpieces such as Requiem. His music career began at 9, when he was sent to Paris to become a choirmaster. At 75, he was awarded the Grand-Croix of the Légion d'honneur.

 48 Joseph Joachim

Joseph Joachim
2
Famous As: Violinist
Birthdate: June 28, 1831
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kittsee, Austria
Died: August 15, 1907

Hungarian violinist and composer Joseph Joachim was trained in Budapest and London before he became the director of the Hochschule für Ausübende Tonkunst in Berlin. He formed the Joachim Quartet and gained fame as a music teacher. He is best known for his versions of works by legends such as Beethoven.

 49 Bedrich Smetana

Bedrich Smetana.
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: March 2, 1824
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Litomyšl
Died: May 12, 1884

Bedrich Smetana was a Czech composer remembered for his opera, The Bartered Bride. Considered the father of Czech music, Smetana was a prodigy whose first public performance came at age six. He then went on to establish himself as one of the most important composers of Czech music. Smetana has been honored with a Walk of Fame star in Vienna.

 50 Carl Orff

Carl Orff.
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: July 10, 1895
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Munich
Died: March 29, 1982

German composer Carl Orff is remembered for his work in operas and his innovative music education system, which relied on group exercises and playing percussion instruments. A man who had started training in music at 5, Orff later co-founded the Günther School to impart lessons in dance, music, and gymnastics.