Famous 21st Century Composers

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Find out more about the greatest 21st Century Composers, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, John Williams, David Gilmour and James Horner.
Vote for Your Favourite 21st Century Composers
 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 
Andrew Lloyd Webber
6
Birthdate: March 22, 1948
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kensington, London
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber reinvented the musical and created masterpieces such as Don't Cry for Me Argentina from Evita and Memory from Cats. He is one of 16 people to have won the Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony. He owns one of the biggest theater companies in London.
 6 
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.

 7 
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.

 8 
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.
 9 
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.

 10 
Philip Glass
(Founder of the Philip Glass Ensemble)
Philip Glass
7
Birthdate: January 31, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
 11 
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.

 12 
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

 13 
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

 14 
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.

 15 
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.

 16 
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.

 17 
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. . 

 18 
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.

 19 
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.

 20 
David McCallum
7
Birthdate: September 19, 1933
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland

David McCallum is a Scottish musician and actor who gained recognition for portraying Illya Kuryakin in the popular spy fiction TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He gained international recognition for playing Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in the action police procedural TV series NCIS. David McCallum has also contributed as a writer, publishing a novel titled Once a Crooked Man.

 21 
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. 
 22 
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.

 23 
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
 24 
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.

 25 
Sammy Hagar
(Singer-Songwriter,)
Sammy Hagar
7
Birthdate: October 13, 1947
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Salinas, California, United States
 26 
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.

 27 
Chaka Khan
(Singer)
Chaka Khan
7
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.
 28 
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
 29 
Maynard James Keenan
(Singer, Songwriter)
Maynard James Keenan
5
Birthdate: April 17, 1964
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ravenna, Ohio, United States
 30 
Damon Albarn
(Guitarist, Singer, Musician, Composer, Songwriter)
Damon Albarn
7
Birthdate: March 23, 1968
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Whitechapel

Grammy-winning English singer Damon Albarn has previously been part of two major bands, Blur and Gorillaz, as their lead vocalist and primary songwriter. He has also performed as part of the supergroup The Good, the Bad & the Queen. His solo album Everyday Robots was nominated for a Mercury Award.

 31 
Don Shirley
(Classical and Jazz Pianist and Composer)
Don Shirley
7
Birthdate: January 29, 1927
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida, United States
Died: April 6, 2013

Don Shirley was an American jazz and classical pianist and composer. He is best remembered for his association with Cadence Records where he recorded many albums during the 1950s and 1960s. Apart from performing in numerous concert tours, Shirley also wrote organ symphonies and piano concerti. Shirley's friendship with his bodyguard Tony Lip was dramatized in the film Green Book.

 32 
Tom Morello
(Musician)
Tom Morello
7
Birthdate: May 30, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, United States

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.

 33 
Mos Def
(Rapper, Actor)
Mos Def
7
Birthdate: December 11, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
 34 
Randy Newman
(Singer-songwriter & Pianist)
Randy Newman
6
Birthdate: November 28, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
 35 
Brian Eno
(Musician, Record producer)
Brian Eno
7
Birthdate: May 15, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Melton, Suffolk, England
Brian Eno created "The Microsoft Sound" for Windows 95 and co-developed the card-based creativity-improving technique Oblique Strategies. His ambient music album Reflection was nominated for a Grammy, and his visual installations have been projected on structures such as the Sydney Opera House. He also co-founded the Long Now Foundation.
 36 
Bret Michaels
7
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.  

 37 
Richard Wright (Musician)
(One of the Founders of the Progressive Rock Band ‘Pink Floyd’)
Richard Wright (Musician)
5
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.

 38 
John Fogerty
(Singer, Musician)
John Fogerty
5
Birthdate: May 28, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States
 39 
Jeff Beck
(Guitarist, Composer, Musician, Jazz guitarist, Songwriter)
Jeff Beck
5
Birthdate: June 24, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: England

Jeff Beck is a British rock guitarist renowned for his association with popular rock bands like The Yardbirds, Beck, Bogert & Appice, and The Jeff Beck Group. Regarded as one of the greatest and most influential players in history, Beck has won several awards like the Grammy Awards. He has also appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine thrice.

 40 
Donovan
(Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Composer, Autobiographer, Writer, Poet, Record producer, Film score composer)
Donovan
5
Birthdate: May 10, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland

Donovan is a Scottish guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is best known for developing and popularizing a distinctive and eclectic style that blended many genres, such as folk, jazz, pop, calypso, and psychedelic rock. Donovan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

 41 
George Martin
(English Record Producer and Composer Best Known for His Associations with the Rock Band 'The Beatles')
George Martin
4
Birthdate: January 3, 1926
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Highbury, London, England
Died: March 8, 2016

George Martin was an English composer, conductor, arranger, record producer, and audio engineer. Due to his involvement on each of the Beatles' albums, Martin was often referred to as the Fifth Beatle. In 1996, George Martin was made a Knight Bachelor for his contribution to the music industry. Apart from being a musician, Martin also contributed to several charitable causes.

 42 
Dave Gahan
(Singer, Songwriter)
Dave Gahan
5
Birthdate: May 9, 1962
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Epping
 43 
Ramin Djawadi
(Composer known for his scores for the 2008 Marvel film Iron Man and the HBO series Game of Thrones, for which he was nominated for Grammy Awards in 2009, 2018 and 2020)
Ramin Djawadi
6
Birthdate: July 19, 1974
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Duisburg, Germany
 44 
Nile Rodgers
(Guitarist, Composer, Songwriter, Record producer, Film score composer)
Nile Rodgers
7
Birthdate: September 19, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City
 45 
Brandon Flowers
(Lead singer and keyboardist of the Las Vegas-based rock band The Killers)
Brandon Flowers
5
Birthdate: June 21, 1981
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Henderson, Nevada, United States
 46 
Tori Amos
(Musician and Singer)
Tori Amos
5
Birthdate: August 22, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Newton
Alternative rock singer Tori Amos is known for her songs that highlight issues such as feminism. Amos was the youngest to win a music scholarship to the Peabody Institute. She performed with the group Y Kant Tori Read before going solo. She is associated with RAINN, a sexual abuse helpline. 
 47 
PJ Harvey
(Singer-songwriter, Composer, Artist, Singer, Guitarist)
PJ Harvey
5
Birthdate: October 9, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bridport

Tinged with themes of female sexuality, the lyrics of PJ Harvey have redefined the place women occupy in rock music. While she was initially part of a musical trio named after herself, she later charted her own path as a solo musician. She is only artist to have earned the Mercury Prize twice.

 48 
Sufjan Stevens
(Singer-songwriter most famous for his Illinois album, which includes the hit Chicago)
Sufjan Stevens
7
Birthdate: July 1, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
 49 
Petula Clark
(One of the Longest Serving British Singers With a Career Spanning More than Seven Decades)
Petula Clark
5
Birthdate: November 15, 1932
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ewell, Surrey, England

Petula Clark is an English singer, composer, and actress. She achieved immense popularity in the USA, for which she is often referred to as the First Lady of the British Invasion. Over the years, Petula Clark has sold over 68 million records worldwide. Some of her best known songs include Downtown, I Couldn't Live Without Your Love, and My Love.

 50 
Tony Iommi
(Guitarist, Composer, Musician, Songwriter)
Tony Iommi
5
Birthdate: February 19, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Birmingham

Black Sabbath lead guitarist Tony Iommi was named one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Known for his signature black leather jacket and silver cross neckpiece, he is fond of playing dark guitar tones. While he successfully beat lymphoma, the cancer was in remission later.