Conductors

conductors are probably among those professionals who never get the due credit they deserve! While everyone who attends concerts raves about the brilliant performances of the musicians, only a few are even aware of the significant role a music conductor plays in directing the artistes’ performances. Conductors not only act as guides to the orchestras but also choose the work the musicians perform. Music conducting, in its modern form, began to evolve in the 19th century. Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi, an Italian opera composer, was an eminent conductor of his era. The renowned composers Hector Berlioz and Richard Wagner were also considered conductors of great calibre. Wagner played a major role in shaping the conductor's role in directing the orchestra. In the 20th century, Hungarian conductor Arthur Nikisch emerged as one of the most successful conductors of all time. While women conductors were unheard of once upon a time, the 21st century saw many talented ladies like Hortense von Gelmini (de), Marin Alsop and Simone Young break the gender barrier and build careers for themselves as conductors. Taiwanese-born Apo Hsu is another woman conductor of international fame. Check out this section to know more about some of the greatest conductors, the world has seen.
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 1 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.

 2 Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein.
5
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.

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 3 Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff.
4
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.

 4 Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky.
4
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.

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 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 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.
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 7 Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Dvořák.
4
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.

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 8 Leopold Stokowski

Leopold Stokowski
4
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: April 18, 1882
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London
Died: September 13, 1977
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 9 Gustavo Dudamel

Gustavo Dudamel
4
Famous As: Music Conductor
Birthdate: January 26, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Barquisimeto, Venezuela

 10 Georg Solti

Georg Solti.
4
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: October 21, 1912
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: September 5, 1997

Georg Solti was an operatic and orchestral conductor. He is best remembered for his association with opera companies in London, Frankfurt, and Munich. He also worked with the popular Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he served as a music director for a long time. Solti became the subject of a 1987 biographical TV documentary titled This Is Your Life.

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 11 Pierre Boulez

Pierre Boulez
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: March 26, 1925
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Montbrison, France
Died: January 5, 2016

 12 John Williams

John Williams.
4
Famous As: Composer
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.

 13 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.

 14 Claudio Abbado

Claudio Abbado
3
Famous As: Conductor, Politician, Pianist, Music director
Birthdate: June 26, 1933
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Milan
Died: January 20, 2014

 15 Harry Connick Jr.

Harry Connick Jr..
4
Famous As: American singer
Birthdate: September 11, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Grammy-winning singer-actor Harry Connick Jr. was born to a lawyer mother and an attorney father, who also owned a record store. He mastered the piano as a child and formed his first jazz band at 10. He later soared to fame with the multi-platinum soundtrack of When Harry Met Sally...

 16 Simon Rattle

Simon Rattle
4
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: January 19, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Liverpool, Merseyside, England, UK
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 17 Riccardo Muti

Riccardo Muti
3
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: July 28, 1941
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Naples, Italy

 18 Arturo Toscanini

Arturo Toscanini
6
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: March 25, 1867
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Parma, Italy
Died: January 16, 1957
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 19 Felix Mendelssohn

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

 20 Burt Bacharach

Burt Bacharach.
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Famous As: Pianist, Composer, Songwriter
Birthdate: May 12, 1928
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kansas City
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. 
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 21 David Ogden Stiers

David Ogden Stiers
6
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 31, 1942
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Peoria, Illinois, USA
Died: March 3, 2018

 22 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.

 23 Wilhelm Furtwängler

Wilhelm Furtwängler
3
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: January 25, 1886
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Schöneberg, Berlin, Germany
Died: November 30, 1954

 24 Frank Sinatra Jr.

Frank Sinatra Jr..
6
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 10, 1944
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jersey City, New Jersey
Died: March 16, 2016

The son of popular actor and singer Frank Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Jr. followed in the footsteps of his father to become a singer-songwriter and conductor. He was kidnapped at age 19 and released two days later. The kidnapping was rumored to be a publicity stunt to promote his singing career, which he established around the same time.

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 25 Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns.
4
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.

 26 John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa.
4
Famous As: Conductor, Composer
Birthdate: November 6, 1854
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Died: March 6, 1932

 27 Craig Revel Horwood

Craig Revel Horwood
4
Famous As: Reality TV Personalities
Birthdate: January 4, 1965
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ballarat, Australia

 28 Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz.
4
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. 

 29 George Martin

George Martin.
6
Famous As: Record Producer, Musician, Composer
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.

 30 Mariss Jansons

Mariss Jansons
3
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: January 14, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Riga, Latvia
Died: November 30, 2019

 31 Yehudi Menuhin

Yehudi Menuhin
4
Famous As: Volinist
Birthdate: April 22, 1916
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: March 12, 1999

 32 Herbert von Karajan

Herbert von Karajan
4
Famous As: Conductor, Music director
Birthdate: April 5, 1908
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Salzburg
Died: July 16, 1989

The principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for over 3 decades, Herbert von Karajan was a piano prodigy in childhood. Though a Nazi Party member, he later claimed he had not been too keen on joining the party. The three-time Grammy winner was also an avid sports lover.

 33 Daniel Barenboim

Daniel Barenboim
4
Famous As: Pianist, Conductor, Music director
Birthdate: November 15, 1942
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Buenos Aires

Daniel Barenboim is a pianist and conductor currently serving as the general music director of the Berlin State Opera and the Staatskapelle Berlin. He has previously been the music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, and La Scala in Milan. He is a recipient of Spain's Prince of Asturias Concord Award among others.

 34 Art Blakey

Art Blakey
4
Famous As: Drummer
Birthdate: October 11, 1919
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died: October 16, 1990

 35 Maurice Jarre

Maurice Jarre
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: September 13, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: 5th arrondissement of Lyon, Lyon, France
Died: March 28, 2009

 36 Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell
4
Famous As: Violinist
Birthdate: December 9, 1967
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bloomington, Indiana, USA

 37 Tommy Dorsey

Tommy Dorsey
4
Famous As: Trombonist
Birthdate: November 19, 1905
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: November 26, 1956

 38 Michel Legrand

Michel Legrand
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 24, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 26, 2019

 39 Brian Tyler

Brian Tyler
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: May 8, 1972
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Orange County, California, United States

 40 Carlo Ponti

Carlo Ponti
4
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: December 29, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland

 41 Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Nikolaus Harnoncourt
3
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: December 6, 1929
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: March 5, 2016

Nikolaus Harnoncourt began his musical career as a classical cellist and grew up to be one of the finest conductors of Austria. He ruled the music scene with the ensemble Concentus Musicus, focusing on historical performance, and later also worked with modern ensembles such as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

 42 Lorin Maazel

Lorin Maazel
3
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: March 6, 1930
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Died: July 13, 2014

 43 Thomas Beecham

Thomas Beecham
3
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: April 29, 1879
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: St Helens, England
Died: March 8, 1961

 44 John Adams

John Adams
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 15, 1947
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Worcester, Massachusetts, United States

 45 Bill Conti

Bill Conti
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: April 13, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island, United States

 46 Carl Maria von Weber

Carl Maria von Weber
3
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 18, 1786
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Eutin, Germany
Died: June 5, 1826

 47 Nino Rota

Nino Rota
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: December 3, 1911
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: April 10, 1979

 48 Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart

Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart
3
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 26, 1791
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: July 29, 1844

 49 Nadia Boulanger

Nadia Boulanger.
3
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: September 16, 1887
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris
Died: October 22, 1979

Born to a music instructor father, French composer and conductor Nadia Boulanger was no stranger to music as a kid. The first woman to conduct prime orchestras, she had the who’s who of the music industry, such as Elliott Carter, Roy Harris, and Quincy Jones, on her list of students.

 50 Rudy Vallee

Rudy Vallee
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 28, 1901
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Island Pond, Vermont, United States
Died: July 3, 1986
Rudy Vallée was an American musician, singer, radio host, and actor. Having gained popularity at a young age, Vallée was widely regarded as one of the first pop stars to achieve the status of a teen idol. His contribution to radio was honored in 2011 when he was made an inductee of the Vermont Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
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