Famous Composers Of The 20th Century

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Discover the most famous 20th century composers including Alfred Newman, Pat Metheny, Marcel Khalife, Yanni, Paul McCartney and many more. This list of composers born in 20th century includes people from India, USA, France, UK, Australia, Russia, Italy, Austria and many more countries.
Vote for Your Favourite Composers Of The 20th Century
 1 
John Williams
(One of the Greatest Film Composers of All Time)
John Williams
8
Birthdate: February 8, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Floral Park, New York, United States

John Williams is an American composer, pianist, trombonist, and conductor. Widely considered the greatest film composer ever, John Williams has played a significant role in the American film industry by composing music for films, such as the Jurassic Park films, Star Wars saga, the Indiana Jones films, and Schindler's List. He has also influenced several other composers like Marcus Paus.

 2 
Hans Zimmer
(Film Score Composer and Music Producer Known for His Work in the Films: ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Dune’)
Hans Zimmer
12
Birthdate: September 12, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany

German film score composer and record producer Hans Zimmer has composed music for over 150 films so far. He developed a love for music as a child and started playing professionally when he was in his teens. He eventually ventured into films. He is the recipient of four Grammy Awards and three Classical BRIT Awards.

 3 
Quincy Jones
(Musician and Second Most Oscar-Nominated African American)
Quincy Jones
8
Birthdate: March 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Regarded as one of the most popular and influential jazz musicians of the previous century, Quincy Jones is known for his work with other legendary artists like Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra. As the first African-American to find success at the Academy Awards ceremony, Quincy has influenced a host of black musicians and songwriters.

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 4 
Ennio Morricone
(One of the Greatest Film Composers of All Time)
Ennio Morricone
7
Birthdate: November 10, 1928
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: July 6, 2020

Regarded as one of the world’s greatest film composers, Ennio Morricone was an Italian composer, orchestrator and conductor who scored music for over 500 films in his career spanning seven decades. Morricone covered a wide range of music styles and is best known for scores in the Dollar Trilogy and Once Upon a Time in the West.

 5 
Claude Debussy
(French Impressionist Composer Best Known for His Opera 'Pelléas et Mélisande')
Claude Debussy
7
Birthdate: August 22, 1862
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France
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 
Leonard Bernstein
(Composer Whose Best-Known Work is the Broadway Musical 'West Side Story')
Leonard Bernstein
6
Birthdate: August 25, 1918
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lawrence, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 14, 1990

Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, music educator, conductor, pianist, author, and humanitarian. One of the most important cultural personalities of 20th century America, Bernstein influenced many generations of musicians. He is also credited with mentoring famous conductors like John Mauceri, Herbert Blomstedt, Alexander Frey, Marin Alsop, and Edo de Waart among many others.

 7 
George Gershwin
(Pianist and Composer Best Known for His Orchestral Compositions ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and ‘An American in Paris’)
George Gershwin
4
Birthdate: September 26, 1898
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: July 11, 1937

George Gershwin was an American pianist, composer, and painter. His work Porgy and Bess is widely regarded as an American cultural classic and one of the 20th century's most important American operas. Many of his compositions have been used in films and television series. His life and work inspired the 1945 biographical movie, Rhapsody in Blue.

 8 
Sergei Rachmaninoff
(Russian Composer Who Was Considered One of the Finest Pianists of His Era)
Sergei Rachmaninoff
7
Birthdate: April 1, 1873
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Starorussky Uyezd
Died: March 28, 1943

Sergei Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, conductor, and virtuoso pianist of the late Romantic period. Credited with exploring the expressive possibilities of the piano, Rachmaninoff's music continues to be featured in films. His four-year struggle with depression, which was followed by the critical failure of his Symphony No. 1, was depicted in the 2015 musical Preludes.

 9 
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky
(One of the Most Influential Composers of the 20th Century and a Pivotal Figure in 'Modernist Music')
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky
4
Birthdate: June 17, 1882
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lomonosov, Saint Petersburg, 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.

 10 
Gustav Mahler
(One of the Most Frequently Performed and Recorded of All Composers)
Gustav Mahler
5
Birthdate: July 7, 1860
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Czeh Republic
Died: May 18, 1911

Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer and conductor Gustav Mahler symbolized the transition of 19th-century Austro-German music to early-20th-century modernism. His music was banned during the Nazi era but was rediscovered later. Famous for his Eighth Symphony, he had also been the director of the Hofoper (Vienna Court Opera).

 11 
Stephen Sondheim
(American composer)
Stephen Sondheim
7
Birthdate: March 22, 1930
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City
Died: November 26, 2021

Stephen Sondheim is an American lyricist and composer. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most prominent figures in musical theatre, Sondheim is credited with reinventing the American musical. In 1981, he founded Young Playwrights Inc. to encourage young people to write for the theatre. An openly gay composer, Sondheim also serves as an inspiration to the LGBT community.

 12 
Maurice Ravel
(One of the Leading Composers of Impressionist Music, Known for His Orchestral Work "Boléro,")
Maurice Ravel
4
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.
 13 
Ray Charles
(Singer-songwriter)
Ray Charles
7
Birthdate: September 23, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Albany, Georgia, United States
Died: June 10, 2004

Ray Charles went on to become a great singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist, despite suffering blindness due to glaucoma early in his life. One of the most respected and decorated musicians of all time, Ray Charles has been named in lists, such as 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. He pioneered the soul music genre, which remains his greatest contribution.

 14 
Erik Satie
(French Composer and Pianist Known for His Work ‘Gymnopédies’)
Erik Satie
5
Birthdate: May 17, 1866
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Honfleur, France
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.

 15 
Elton John
(Singer, Pianist and Composer- One of the Best-Selling Artists of All Time)
Elton John
8
Birthdate: March 25, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pinner, England
The supremely gifted English singer, songwriter, pianist and composer, Elton John has entertained music lovers globally since the 1970s. His phenomenal talent make him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. Not to forget his tribute to Princess Diana, Candle in the Wind 1997, which till date is one of the best-selling singles in the UK and the US.
 16 
Miles Davis
(Trumpeter and one of the Most Prominent Figures in the History of Jazz)
Miles Davis
5
Birthdate: May 26, 1926
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Alton, Illinois, United States
Died: September 28, 1991
Jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis was a pioneer in the bepop and jazz fusion genres. His work also had electronic, African, and Spanish influences. His album Kind of Blue sold 5 million copies in the U.S. and was termed a national treasure by the House of Representatives, years later. 
 17 
Bjork
(Famous as the Lead Singer of Alternative Rock Band 'The Sugarcubes')
Bjork
6
Birthdate: November 21, 1965
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Reykjavík, Iceland

Bjork is an Icelandic singer, record producer, songwriter, DJ, and actress. She is best known for her association with the now-defunct yet popular band, The Sugarcubes. The bestselling Icelandic singer-songwriter of all time, Bjork was named in Time magazine's most influential people in the world list in 2015. Over the course of her illustrious career, Bjork has received several awards.

 18 
Philip Glass
(Founder of the Philip Glass Ensemble)
Philip Glass
7
Birthdate: January 31, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
 19 
Giacomo Puccini
(Italian Composer Known for His Works ‘La Bohème’, ‘Tosca’ and ‘Madama Butterfly’)
Giacomo Puccini
4
Birthdate: December 22, 1858
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lucca, Italy
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.

 20 
Billy Joel
(Singer, Composer)
Billy Joel
7
Birthdate: May 9, 1949
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Popularly known as the Piano Man, Billy Joel is a singer-songwriter and musician. Having sold more than 150 million records worldwide, Billy is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. He is also America's third best-selling solo artist and the sixth best-selling recording artist. He is also known for his multiple relationships with popular women.

 21 
Roger Waters
(Composer, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Screenwriter, Singer, Pianist, Record producer)
Roger Waters
6
Birthdate: September 6, 1943
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Surrey

Co-founder of the rock band, Pink Floyd, Roger Waters is celebrated singer, songwriter and composer. Beginning his career with rhythm guitar, he initially served solely as a bassist in Pink Floyd before emerging as their lyricist, co-lead vocalist, and conceptual leader. Later he left the group due to creative difference and embarked on his solo career, releasing numerous albums and singles

 22 
John Cage
(Composer, Writer)
John Cage
7
Birthdate: September 5, 1912
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: August 12, 1992
John Cage was one of the most influential avant-garde composers of the post-World War II era. He pioneered many innovative techniques in music, such as the prepared piano and electroacoustic music. His composition 4′33″ involved musicians sitting silently, without playing any instrument, while the audience heard environmental sounds. 
 23 
Joan Jett
(Founder of the Rock Band 'The Runaways' & Frontwoman of 'Joan Jett & the Blackhearts')
Joan Jett
6
Birthdate: September 22, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, United States

Joan Jett, also known as The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, is the frontwoman of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, best known for their rendition of the Arrows song I Love Rock 'n Roll, which topped the Billboard Hot 100. Jett also released the hit Cherry Bomb with the Runaways

 24 
Richard Georg Strauss
(Considered a Leading Composer of The Late Romantic & Early Modern Eras)
Richard Georg Strauss
5
Birthdate: June 11, 1864
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: September 8, 1949

Richard Georg Strauss was a German conductor, composer, violinist, and pianist. Renowned for his pioneering subtleties of orchestration, Strauss is generally regarded as a modernist, although he was initially considered a conservative, backwards-looking composer. Over the years, his music has influenced other prominent composers like Béla Viktor János Bartók, Karol Maciej Szymanowski, Edward Elgar, and Benjamin Britten.

 25 
Edvard Grieg
(One of the Main Composers of the Romantic Era)
Edvard Grieg
5
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.
 26 
Duke Ellington
(One of the Greatest Jazz Composers & Bandleader)
Duke Ellington
5
Birthdate: April 29, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
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.
 27 
David Gilmour
(Guitarist, Singer-songwriter, Songwriter, Multi-instrumentalist, Record producer)
David Gilmour
6
Birthdate: March 6, 1946
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cambridge ,England

Pink Floyd guitarist/singer David Gilmour helped the band become one of the best-selling acts ever. One of Rolling Stone magazine’s greatest guitarists of all time, he has also been an advocate of animal rights and other causes. He once auctioned off 120 guitars, including his iconic Black Strat, for charity.

 28 
Carroll O’Connor
5
Birthdate: August 2, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
Died: June 21, 2001

Carroll O'Connor was an American actor, director, and producer. In a TV career that spanned 40 years, O'Connor popularized several fictional characters, including Archie Bunker from the sitcom All in the Family, for which he received four Emmy Awards. In 1996, he was ranked 38th on the 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list published by TV Guide.

 29 
John Coltrane
(One of the Most Influential Saxophonists in Music History)
John Coltrane
5
Birthdate: September 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: HaHamlet, North Carolina, United States
Died: July 17, 1967
Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane is remembered for his significant influence on modern jazz. He was initially part of the Navy band and eventually collaborated with musicians such as Miles Davis. He won a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was canonized by the African Orthodox Church.
 30 
Edward Elgar
(Composer)
Edward Elgar
4
Birthdate: June 2, 1857
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Broadheath, England
Died: February 23, 1934
 31 
Jean Sibelius
(Finnish Composer Known for His 'Seven Symphonies' and His Tone Poem 'Tapiola')
Jean Sibelius
4
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.

 32 
Dimebag Darrell
(Guitarist, Composer, Musician)
Dimebag Darrell
6
Birthdate: August 20, 1966
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dallas
Died: December 8, 2004
 33 
Enya
(Irish Singer and Musician Known for Pioneering Modern 'Celtic' and 'New-Age' Music)
Enya
6
Birthdate: May 17, 1961
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland

Known for her unique blend of Celtic and folk tunes, Irish singer Enya has been dubbed the Queen of New Age. The Academy Award-nominated singer is also a 4-time Grammy winner and soared to fame with tracks such as Only Time and Orinoco Flow. She is the best-selling Irish solo artist ever.

 34 
David Lee Roth
(Singer, Musician)
David Lee Roth
6
Birthdate: October 10, 1954
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bloomington, Indiana, United States

David Lee Roth is an American rock singer, songwriter, musician, and former radio personality. Renowned for his energetic stage persona, Roth was a long-time member of the popular hard rock band Van Halen where he served as the lead singer. In 2007, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 35 
Alanis Morisette
(Singer-Songwriter)
Alanis Morisette
8
Birthdate: June 1, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ottawa, Canada

Alanis Morisette is a Canadian-American singer-songwriter and actress. Renowned for her mezzo-soprano voice, Morisette has been named by Rolling Stone as the Queen of Alt-Rock Angst. A recipient of 13 Juno Awards and seven Grammy Awards, Morisette has released several successful albums, including Jagged Little Pill, which was named in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

 36 
Dudley Moore
(Actor, Comedian and One of the Four Writer-Performers in the Comedy Revue ‘Beyond the Fringe’)
Dudley Moore
5
Birthdate: April 19, 1935
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Charing Cross Hospital, London, United Kingdom
Died: March 27, 2002
Dudley Moore was a prominent figure of the 1960s’ British satire boom. He is best known for writing the stage revue Beyond the Fringe and was also part of the sketch comedy Not Only... But Also. He delivered an Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe-winning performance in the comedy film Arthur
 37 
Ronnie Van Zant
(Singer, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Composer, Guitarist)
Ronnie Van Zant
5
Birthdate: January 15, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jacksonville
Died: October 20, 1977
 38 
Trent Reznor
(Frontman and founder of the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails)
Trent Reznor
7
Birthdate: May 17, 1965
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Castle, Pennsylvania, United States

Trent Reznor is an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and composer. Reznor is credited with founding the popular band Nine Inch Nails, where he serves as the principal songwriter, lead vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. Trent Reznor is also credited with mentoring Marilyn Manson and has contributed to the latter's albums. . 

 39 
Rick Rubin
(Record Producer)
Rick Rubin
6
Birthdate: March 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lido Beach

A record producer, Rick Rubin is the former co-president of Columbia Records and a co-founder of Def Jam Recordings. By promoting the musical groups  Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy, he helped popularize hip hop music. He has been named on Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World.

 40 
A. R. Rahman
(One of the Most Famous Indian Film Composers)
A. R. Rahman
10
Birthdate: January 6, 1967
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

A. R. Rahman is an Indian film composer, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Rahman is one of the most decorated and celebrated musicians in Indian history. He was won several prestigious awards including two Grammy Awards, two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award. In 2009, he was named among the 100 most influential people in Time.

 41 
Benjamin Britten
(Composer, conductor and pianist)
Benjamin Britten
5
Birthdate: November 22, 1913
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lowestoft
Died: December 4, 1976
 42 
Burt Bacharach
(One of the Most Influential Composers of Pop Music in the 20th Century)
Burt Bacharach
5
Birthdate: May 12, 1928
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Legendary musician and songwriter Burt Bacharach teamed up with lyricist Hal David and created many popular songs from the 1950s to the 1980s, including countless Billboard charters. He has won six Grammys and three Academy Awards for his tracks, and most of his songs were sung by Dionne Warwick. 
 43 
Arnold Schoenberg
(One of the Most Influential Composers of the 20th Century)
Arnold Schoenberg
7
Birthdate: September 13, 1874
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Leopoldstadt, Vienna, Austria
Died: July 13, 1951
Austrian-born composer Arnold Schoenberg was part of the German Expressionist Movement and led the Second Viennese School. Being Jewish, he was banned by the Nazis and later became an American citizen. Known for his twelve-tone technique, he coined the term developing variation and formed motifs without a centralized melodic idea.
 44 
Tom Waits
(Musician, Composer, & Songwriter)
Tom Waits
7
Birthdate: December 7, 1949
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pomona, California, United States

Tom Waits is a musician and songwriter. His lyrics, which are delivered in his trademark gravelly voice, often focus on the underbelly of society. His story of being born in a middle-class family to becoming one of the greatest songwriters of all time serves as an inspiration to many. He has also influenced several musicians and attained a cult following.

 45 
Ronnie James Dio
(Former heavy metal singer, songwriter and composer)
Ronnie James Dio
8
Birthdate: July 10, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States
Died: May 16, 2010
 46 
Luther Vandross
7
Birthdate: April 20, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City
Died: July 1, 2005

Luther Vandross was an American record producer and singer-songwriter. As a background vocalist, Vandross contributed to the success of several songs recorded by artists like David Bowie, Diana Ross, and Judy Collins. Regarded as a singer with one of the greatest voices in recorded history, Luther Vandross' works have influenced many artists like D'Angelo, Jaheim, Ne-Yo, John Legend, and Usher.

 47 
Sammy Hagar
(Singer-Songwriter,)
Sammy Hagar
7
Birthdate: October 13, 1947
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Salinas, California, United States
 48 
Charlie Parker
(Jazz Saxophonist & Developer of the 'Bebop' Style of Jazz)
Charlie Parker
5
Birthdate: August 29, 1920
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kansas City, Kansas, United States
Died: March 12, 1955

Charlie Parker was an American composer and jazz saxophonist. A highly influential soloist, Parker played a significant role in the development of a form of jazz called bebop. He is also credited with introducing harmonic ideas into jazz, such as chord substitutions and rapid passing chords. His contribution to jazz and bebop made him an icon of the hipster subculture.

 49 
Virgil Abloh
(Fashion designer)
Virgil Abloh
7
Birthdate: September 30, 1980
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rockford, Illinois, U.S.

Virgil Abloh is not just a designer but also a qualified architect. He has been a DJ, too. Apart from heading Louis Vuitton's menswear collection as its artistic director, he also became the first Black designer to lead a major fashion brand. He has also launched the luxury streetwear label Off-White.

 50 
James Horner
(Composer, conductor, and orchestrator of film scores)
James Horner
7
Birthdate: August 14, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: June 22, 2015