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
6
Famous As: Composer of the Romantic period
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 Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: April 1, 1873
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Oneg, Russia
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.

 3 Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler
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Famous As: Composer, Conductor
Birthdate: July 7, 1860
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kaliště, Czechia
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).

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 4 Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann
4
Famous As: One of the Greatest Composer of the Romantic Era which include 'Carnaval, Symphonic Studies and Kinderszenen'
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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 5 Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist & Conductor
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.

 6 Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein
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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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 7 Antonín Dvořák

Antonín Dvořák
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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 Gustavo Dudamel

Gustavo Dudamel
4
Famous As: Music Conductor
Birthdate: January 26, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Barquisimeto, Venezuela
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 9 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.

 10 John Williams

John Williams
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 8, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Queens, New York City

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.

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 11 Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner
4
Famous As: Composer, conductor, theatre director
Birthdate: May 22, 1813
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
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.

 12 Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone
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Famous As: Composer, Conductor, orchestrator
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.

 13 Pierre Boulez

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

 14 Harry Connick Jr.

Harry Connick Jr.
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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...

 15 Leopold Stokowski

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

 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 Burt Bacharach

Burt Bacharach
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Famous As: Pianist, Composer, Songwriter
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. 

 18 Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist and Teacher of the Romantic Era
Birthdate: October 22, 1811
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Raiding, Austria
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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 19 James Horner

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

 20 Georg Solti

Georg Solti
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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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 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 Herbert von Karajan

Herbert von Karajan
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Famous As: He was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 34 years
Birthdate: April 5, 1908
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Salzburg, Austria
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.

 23 Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms
4
Famous As: Composer, Conductor, Pianist
Birthdate: May 7, 1834
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.

 24 Claudio Abbado

Claudio Abbado
3
Famous As: Conductor Who Was One of the leading conductors of his Generation
Birthdate: June 26, 1933
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Milan, Italy
Died: January 20, 2014
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 25 André Rieu

André Rieu
4
Famous As: Violinist, Conductor best known for creating the waltz-playing Johann Strauss Orchestra
Birthdate: October 1, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Maastricht, Netherlands

André Rieu is a Dutch violinist whose work has earned him international fame for over 30 years. Also an orchestra leader, Rieu is credited with founding the Johann Strauß Orchestra, which is renowned for its unorthodox performances of classical works. André Rieu has played all over the world and is well-known for his performances of classical works by Johann Strauss. 

 26 Felix Mendelssohn

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

Felix Mendelssohn was a German composer of the early Romantic period. He was also a skilled organist, pianist, and conductor. He composed symphonies, concertos, chamber music, and organ music. His collection of lyrical piano songs Songs Without Words is among his best-known works. He was the founder of the public university The Leipzig Conservatory. He died aged just 38. 

 27 André Previn

André Previn
4
Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: April 6, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: February 28, 2019
German-American pianist and composer André Previn was a prominent figure in jazz and classical music. He composed tracks for MGM and won four Grammys and four Academy Awards. He was the music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the main conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, among others.

 28 Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel
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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.

 29 Antonio Salieri

Antonio Salieri
4
Famous As: Composer, Conductor
Birthdate: August 18, 1750
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Legnago, Italy
Died: May 7, 1825

Antonio Salieri was an Italian classical composer, conductor, and teacher considered a key figure in the development of late 18th-century opera. He was a protégé of eminent composer Christoph Willibald Gluck. For several years, he served as the director of the Italian opera by the Habsburg court. His works were performed widely across Europe during his lifetime. 

 30 Riccardo Muti

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

 31 Placido Domingo

Placido Domingo
4
Famous As: Opera singer, Conductor
Birthdate: January 21, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain

Spanish opera singer and conductor Plácido Domingo has performed in a variety of languages, such as English, Italian, French, Spanish, and German. The winner of nine Grammys and five Latin Grammys, he later performed as part of The Three Tenors, with legends Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras, releasing bestselling albums.

 32 George Martin

George Martin
6
Famous As: Record producer
Birthdate: January 3, 1926
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Highbury
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.

 33 Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns
4
Famous As: Composer, Organist, Pianist
Birthdate: October 9, 1835
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
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.

 34 Richard Georg Strauss

Richard Georg Strauss
4
Famous As: Considered a Leading Composer of The Late Romantic & Early Modern Eras
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.

 35 Itzhak Perlman

Itzhak Perlman
4
Famous As: Violinist
Birthdate: August 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel
A bout of polio at age 4 left Itzhak Perlman’s legs paralyzed but could not deter his spirit. The Juilliard alumnus has won 16 Grammys and the coveted Leventritt Prize for his phenomenal compositions. He has also served as a conductor for Detroit Symphony and orchestras. 

 36 Henry Mancini

Henry Mancini
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: April 16, 1924
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Little Italy, Ohio, United States
Died: June 14, 1994

 37 John Philip Sousa

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

 38 Arturo Toscanini

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

 39 Valery Gergiev

Valery Gergiev
3
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: May 2, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

 40 Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz
4
Famous As: Composer, Conductor
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. 

 41 Wilhelm Furtwängler

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

 42 Victor Borge

Victor Borge
4
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: January 3, 1909
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: December 23, 2000

Victor Borge was a Danish-American pianist, conductor, and comedian. He is best remembered for blending comedy and music for which he achieved popularity across Europe and the United States. Recipient of several prestigious awards, Borge received badges of chivalric orders from countries like Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. In 1999, he received the Kennedy Center Honors.

 43 Marvin Hamlisch

Marvin Hamlisch
4
Famous As: Composer, Conductor
Birthdate: June 2, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States
Died: August 6, 2012

 44 Marin Alsop

Marin Alsop
3
Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: October 16, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

 45 Tommy Dorsey

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

 46 Alan Silvestri

Alan Silvestri
4
Famous As: Composer and conductor of film and television scores
Birthdate: March 26, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

 47 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

Grammy Award-winning legendary 20th-century violinist Yehudi Menuhin was born to Lithuanian Jews in the US. Starting his training in the violin at age 4, he later studied music in Paris. He also experimented with fusion, collaborating with jazz and Indian classical musicians. He later launched the Yehudi Menuhin School.

 48 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

 49 Otto Klemperer

Otto Klemperer
3
Famous As: Orchestra
Birthdate: May 14, 1885
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: July 6, 1973

 50 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