Famous Composers Of The 20th Century

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.

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

Vote for Your Favourite Composers

 1 John Williams

John Williams.
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 8, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Floral Park

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 Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein.
4
Famous As: Conductor, Composer
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.

Recommended Lists:

 3 George Gershwin

George Gershwin.
4
Famous As: Composer
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.

 4 Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim.
4
Famous As: American composer
Birthdate: March 22, 1930
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City

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.

 5 Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler.
4
Famous As: Composer, Conductor
Birthdate: July 7, 1860
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kaliste, Bohemia (now Czech 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).

 6 Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff.
5
Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: April 1, 1873
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Velikiy Novgorod
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.

 7 Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones.
4
Famous As: Musician, Conductor, Producer, Arranger, Composer, Film Composer
Birthdate: March 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: 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.

You May Like

 8 John Cage

John Cage.
4
Famous As: Composer, Writer
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. 

 9 Danny Elfman

Danny Elfman.
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: May 29, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

Composer, singer, songwriter, and record producer, Danny Elfman is best known for his association with the new wave band Oingo Boingo. He has written over 100 feature film scores and has composed music for numerous TV shows and stage productions. He is the recipient of two Emmy Awards and one Grammy and has been nominated for the Academy Award.

 10 Adrienne Bailon

Adrienne Bailon
5
Famous As: Actor, Singer, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Dancer, Television actor
Birthdate: October 24, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lower East Side

 11 Alan Thicke

Alan Thicke
4
Famous As: Actor, Songwriter, Composer, Television presenter, Voice actor, Comedian
Birthdate: March 1, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kirkland Lake
Died: December 13, 2016

 12 Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross.
4
Famous As: Singer
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.

 13 Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor
4
Famous As: Singer, Composer, Pianist, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Record producer
Birthdate: May 17, 1965
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mercer

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. . 

 14 Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 23, 1953
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois
Ten-time Grammy-winning funk/R&B/disco artist Chaka Khan, or the Queen of Funk, soared to fame as the frontwoman of the band Rufus. Known for her hit track I Feel for You, Khan has sold 70 million records and has ranked 17th on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll list.

 15 Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Singer, Composer, Pianist, Writer, Songwriter, Jazz musician
Birthdate: September 13, 1977
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Manhattan

 16 Kathie Lee Gifford

Kathie Lee Gifford.
6
Famous As: TV Host, Actress
Birthdate: August 16, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris

Kathie Lee Gifford achieved celebrity status by working as a television presenter. She then became a singer-songwriter and author, cementing her place in the entertainment industry. Also known for her charity work, Kathie serves as an ambassador for Childhelp, a non-profit organization working towards preventing child abuse.

 17 David Lee Roth

David Lee Roth
4
Famous As: Singer, Musician
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.

 18 Damon Albarn

Damon Albarn
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Singer, Musician, Composer, Songwriter
Birthdate: March 23, 1968
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Whitechapel

 19 Dimebag Darrell

Dimebag Darrell
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Composer, Musician
Birthdate: August 20, 1966
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dallas
Died: December 8, 2004

 20 Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin.
4
Famous As: Record Producer
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.

 21 John Coltrane

John Coltrane.
4
Famous As: Saxophonist, Composer
Birthdate: September 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hamlet
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.

 22 Tom Morello

Tom Morello
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Actor, Composer, Trade unionist
Birthdate: May 30, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City

Tom Morello is an American musician, rapper, singer, actor, songwriter, and political activist. Morello is best known for his association with Rage Against the Machine, which he co-founded with Zack de la Rocha. Renowned for his creative and unique guitar playing style, Tom Morello was ranked among the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine.

 23 Maynard James Keenan

Maynard James Keenan
4
Famous As: Singer, Musician, Record producer, Composer
Birthdate: April 17, 1964
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ravenna

 24 Carroll O’Connor

Carroll O’Connor.
4
Famous As: Actor
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.

 25 Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio
4
Famous As: Singer, Composer
Birthdate: July 10, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Portsmouth
Died: May 16, 2010

 26 Philip Glass

Philip Glass
4
Famous As: American composer
Birthdate: January 31, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Baltimore

 27 Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Composer, Oboist, Banjoist, Record producer, Guitarist, Pianist
Birthdate: July 1, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Detroit

 28 Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Composer, Songwriter, Record producer, Film score composer
Birthdate: September 19, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City

 29 Richard Georg Strauss

Richard Georg Strauss.
4
Famous As: Composer
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.

 30 Pete Burns

Pete Burns
4
Famous As: Singer, Composer, Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: August 5, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Port Sunlight
Died: October 23, 2016

 31 Brad Douglas Paisley

Brad Douglas Paisley.
4
Famous As: American singer-songwriter
Birthdate: October 28, 1972
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Glen Dale

Brad Douglas Paisley is an American singer-songwriter. One of the most decorated male country music singers of the current generation, Paisley has won multiple American Music Awards, Grammy Awards, Country Music Association Awards, and Academy of Country Music Awards. Brad Paisley is also known for his skills as a guitarist and one particular model of guitar is named after him.

 32 Susanna Hoffs

Susanna Hoffs
4
Famous As: Actor, Singer-songwriter, Film producer, Musician, Singer, Composer, Television actor
Birthdate: January 17, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Los Angeles

 33 Ronnie Van Zant

Ronnie Van Zant
4
Famous As: Singer, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Composer, Guitarist
Birthdate: January 15, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jacksonville
Died: October 20, 1977

 34 James Horner

James Horner
4
Famous As: Composer, Conductor, Musician, Orchestrateur, Film score composer
Birthdate: August 14, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles
Died: June 22, 2015

 35 Debbie Gibson

Debbie Gibson
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Singer, Actor, Composer, Film producer, Musician, Record producer, Pianist, Television actor
Birthdate: August 31, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brooklyn

 36 Bela Bartok

Bela Bartok.
4
Famous As: Composer, Pianist
Birthdate: March 25, 1881
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nagyszentmiklós
Died: September 26, 1945

Bela Bartok was a Hungarian pianist, composer, and ethnomusicologist. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most prominent composers, Bartok is also counted among Hungary's greatest composers of all time. He is credited with co-founding comparative musicology, which came to be known as ethnomusicology.

 37 Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh
4
Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: November 20, 1947
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wichita

Joe Walsh is an American guitarist, songwriter, and singer. Over the years Walsh has contributed to the success of popular rock bands such as Eagles and James Gang. In 1998, he was made an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was ranked 54th on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list.

 38 Bret Michaels

Bret Michaels.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 15, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Butler, Pennsylvania

Singer-songwriter and musician Bret Michaels first gained fame as the frontman of the rock band Poison. He also performs as a solo artist and has released many albums. He is an occasional actor as well and has appeared in numerous films and TV shows.  

 39 Kumar Sanu

Kumar Sanu
4
Famous As: Singer, Composer
Birthdate: September 23, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kolkata

 40 Pat Boone

Pat Boone
4
Famous As: Actor, Singer, Singer-songwriter, Composer
Birthdate: June 1, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Jacksonville

 41 Arnold Schoenberg

Arnold Schoenberg.
6
Famous As: Composer
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.

 42 Shreya Ghoshal

Shreya Ghoshal
4
Famous As: Singer, Writer, Actor, Composer
Birthdate: March 12, 1984
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Durgapur

National Award-winning singer Shreya Ghoshal grew up in Rajasthan and later moved to Mumbai, where her electrical engineer father was posted. After gaining attention with the talent show Sa Re Ga Ma, the classically trained artist was catapulted to fame with her playback singing in Devdas, and never looked back.

 43 Jerry Reed

Jerry Reed
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Musician
Birthdate: March 20, 1937
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Died: September 1, 2008

Jerry Reed was an American guitarist, country music singer, songwriter, composer, and actor. He won three Grammy Awards and two Country Music Association awards during his illustrious career. In 2017, he was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Jerry Reed was also inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.

 44 Marc Bolan

Marc Bolan
4
Famous As: Guitarist, Singer-songwriter, Singer
Birthdate: September 30, 1947
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: September 16, 1977

 45 Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten.
4
Famous As: Composer, conductor and pianist
Birthdate: November 22, 1913
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lowestoft
Died: December 4, 1976

 46 Richard Wright (Musician)

Richard Wright (Musician).
4
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 28, 1943
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hatch End, Middlesex, England
Died: September 15, 2008

Richard Wright was an English musician. He is credited with co-founding the popular band ,Pink Floyd, for which he also served as a vocalist and keyboardist. Wright contributed immensely to the success of Pink Floyd and his distinctive keyboard playing was a key component of the music produced by the band.

 47 Dennis Wilson

Dennis Wilson
4
Famous As: Record producer, Singer, Drummer, Surfer, Composer
Birthdate: December 4, 1944
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Inglewood
Died: December 28, 1983

 48 Glenn Miller

Glenn Miller
4
Famous As: Trombonist
Birthdate: March 1, 1904
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Clarinda, Iowa, United States
Died: December 15, 1944

 49 Levon Helm

Levon Helm
4
Famous As: Singer, Musician, Autobiographer, Composer, Actor, Mandolinist, Drummer, Songwriter
Birthdate: May 26, 1940
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Elaine
Died: April 19, 2012

 50 PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Composer, Artist, Singer, Guitarist
Birthdate: October 9, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bridport