Famous French Composers

Find out more about the greatest French Composers, including Camille Saint-Saëns, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Hector Berlioz, Kavinsky and Georges Bizet.

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 French Composers

 1 Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy.
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: August 22, 1862
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Saint-Germain-en-Laye
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.

 2 Kathie Lee Gifford

Kathie Lee Gifford.
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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.

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 3 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.

 4 Erik Satie

Erik Satie.
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: May 17, 1866
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Honfleur
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.

 5 Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo

Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.
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Famous As: Musician, Composer, Screenwriter
Birthdate: February 8, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris

French musician, singer-songwriter, record-producer, DJ, and film director Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo is one former half of the French electronic music duo Daft Punk that he formed with Thomas Bangalter. The duo achieved both critical and commercial success with albums like Discovery and RandomAccess Memories. Homem-Christo has also spawned works through the record label Crydamoure which he co-owns with Eric Chedeville.

 6 Django Reinhardt

Django Reinhardt.
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: January 23, 1910
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Liberchies, Belgium
Died: May 16, 1953
Belgian-born Romani-French jazz musician Jean Reinhardt was better known by his nickname Django. Some of his most celebrated composition were Belleville and Swing '42. Though he died at 43, he influenced an entire generation of musicians, which led to annual Django Festivals, a film, and a biography.

 7 Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz.
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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. 

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 8 Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns.
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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.

 9 Jean-Michel Jarre

Jean-Michel Jarre.
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: August 24, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: France
French composer and record producer Jean-Michel André Jarre is known for his pathbreaking experiments in the electronic, new-age, and ambient genres. His signature style includes inclusion of overwhelming laser shows, fireworks, and projections in his music shows. He became the first Western artist invited to perform in China.

 10 Olivier Messiaen

Olivier Messiaen.
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Famous As: Composer, Organist
Birthdate: December 10, 1908
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Avignon, France
Died: January 1, 1970

French composer and organist Olivier Messiaen is credited with creating melodically innovative scores, using what he called "modes of limited transposition." An ornithologist, too, he added bird songs into his compositions such as La fauvette des jardins and Catalogue d'oiseaux. His Messiaen: Concert A Quatre won a Grammy.

 11 Pierre Boulez

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

 12 Georges Bizet

Georges Bizet.
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: October 25, 1838
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: June 3, 1875

Georges Bizet was a French composer whose career was cut short by his untimely demise at the age of 36. Since his death in 1875, Bizet's final work Carmen has become one of the most frequently performed works in the opera repertoire. Although he couldn’t achieve success during his lifetime, Bizet's death is considered a loss to French musical theatre.

 13 Alexandre Desplat

Alexandre Desplat
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Famous As: Composer, Music educator, Film score composer
Birthdate: August 23, 1961
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris

 14 Thomas Bangalter

Thomas Bangalter
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Famous As: Disc jockey, Singer, Guitarist, Director, Composer, Screenwriter, Record producer, Film score composer
Birthdate: January 3, 1975
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tlaxcala

French musician Thomas Bangalter had been part of the six-time Grammy-winning electronic music duo Daft Punk for 28 years, before it split. Known for wearing their signature helmets while performing, he and his partner, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, released iconic hits such as Da Funk and Get Lucky.

 15 Richard Clayderman

Richard Clayderman
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Famous As: Pianist, Composer, Musician
Birthdate: December 28, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris

 16 Maurice Jarre

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

 17 Peter Abelard

Peter Abelard
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1079 AD
Birthplace: Le Pallet, France
Died: April 21, 1142

Medieval French philosopher, theologian, and poet Peter Abelard was born to a knight but gave up his inheritance to study philosophy and logic. He fell in love with his pupil, Héloïse, but her uncle got Abelard castrated, following which Abelard became a monk and made Héloïse a nun.

 18 Jacques Offenbach

Jacques Offenbach
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: June 20, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: October 5, 1880

 19 Francis Poulenc

Francis Poulenc.
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: January 7, 1899
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris
Died: January 30, 1963

French composer Francis Poulenc was most self-taught, as he was not encouraged to join a music school by his pharmaceutical manufacturer father. Part of the legendary “Les Six” of French music, Poulenc was also a skilled pianist. He is also remembered for the opera Les dialogues des Carmélites.

 20 Michel Legrand

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

 21 Jean-Baptiste Lully

Jean-Baptiste Lully.
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 28, 1632
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: March 22, 1687

Born to Italian parents, Jean-Baptiste Lully grew up to be a legendary composer who ruled the French courts. He started his journey as a violinist in Louis XIV’s band and later came to be known for his tragic operas. He had also apparently invented the French overture.

 22 Josquin des Prez

Josquin des Prez.
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1450 AD
Birthplace: County of Hainaut, Belgium
Died: August 27, 1521

Josquin des Prez was one of the most influential Renaissance composers. Known for his motets, masses, and chansons, he is revered as the main figure of the Franco-Flemish School. Details of his early days are vague, and he was, for a long time, mistaken as another singer, Josquin de Kessalia.

 23 Yann Tiersen

Yann Tiersen
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: June 23, 1970
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brest, France

 24 Martin Solveig

Martin Solveig
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Famous As: Disc jockey, Singer, Composer
Birthdate: September 22, 1976
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris

 25 Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Chevalier de Saint-Georges
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Famous As: Composer, Conductor, Fencer, Concertmaster, Military personnel
Birthdate: December 25, 1745
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Baillif
Died: June 10, 1799

 26 Claude François

Claude François
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 1, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ismailia, Egypt
Died: March 11, 1978

 27 Nadia Boulanger

Nadia Boulanger.
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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.

 28 Claude-Michel Schönberg

Claude-Michel Schönberg
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Famous As: Record producer
Birthdate: July 6, 1944
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vannes, France

 29 Bob Sinclar

Bob Sinclar
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Famous As: Club DJ, Disc jockey, Composer, Record producer
Birthdate: May 10, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Douarnenez

 30 Jean-Luc Ponty

Jean-Luc Ponty
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Famous As: Composer, Jazz musician
Birthdate: September 29, 1942
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Avranches

 31 Jules Massenet

Jules Massenet
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: May 12, 1842
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montaud, France
Died: August 13, 1912

 32 Iannis Xenakis

Iannis Xenakis
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: May 29, 1922
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brăila, Romania
Died: February 4, 2001

 33 Tristan Tzara

Tristan Tzara
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Famous As: Art collector, Poet, Writer, Diplomat, Film director, Translator, Playwright, Essayist, Composer, Musician, Performance artist, Literary critic
Birthdate: April 16, 1896
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Moineşti
Died: December 25, 1963

 34 George Enescu

George Enescu
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Famous As: Romanian composer
Birthdate: August 19, 1881
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: George Enescu, Botoşani
Died: May 4, 1955

 35 Stéphane Grappelli

Stéphane Grappelli
3
Famous As: Street artist, Composer, Jazz musician, Pianist
Birthdate: January 26, 1908
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: December 1, 1997

 36 Jacques Dutronc

Jacques Dutronc
3
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 28, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France

 37 Breakbot

Breakbot
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Famous As: Disc jockey, Record producer, Composer
Birthdate: October 5, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Yvelines

 38 Jean-Jacques Goldman

Jean-Jacques Goldman
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Composer, Pianist, Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist
Birthdate: October 11, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris

 39 Charles Trenet

Charles Trenet
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 18, 1913
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Narbonne, France
Died: February 18, 2001

 40 Darius Milhaud

Darius Milhaud
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Famous As: Classical composer, Conductor, Autobiographer, Musicologist, Music educator, Jazz musician, Music critic, Composer, Pianist, Film score composer
Birthdate: September 4, 1892
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Aix-en-Provence
Died: June 22, 1974

 41 Sébastien Izambard

Sébastien Izambard
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: March 7, 1973
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France

 42 Paul Mauriat

Paul Mauriat
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Famous As: Orchestra leader
Birthdate: March 4, 1925
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Marseille, France
Died: November 3, 2006

 43 François Couperin

François Couperin
3
Famous As: Composer, Organist, Musician, Viol player, Harpsichordist
Birthdate: November 10, 1668
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris
Died: September 11, 1733

 44 Ibrahim Maalouf

Ibrahim Maalouf
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Famous As: Jazz musician
Birthdate: November 5, 1980
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Beirut, Lebanon

 45 Léo Delibes

Léo Delibes
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 21, 1836
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: La La Flèche, France
Died: January 16, 1891

 46 Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy

Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy
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Famous As: Military personnel, Spy, Composer
Birthdate: December 16, 1847
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: May 21, 1923

 47 Charles-Valentin Alkan

Charles-Valentin Alkan
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 30, 1813
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 29, 1888

 48 Adolphe Adam

Adolphe Adam
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: July 24, 1803
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 3, 1856

 49 Francis Lai

Francis Lai
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist, Film score composer
Birthdate: April 26, 1932
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nice

 50 Lili Boulanger

Lili Boulanger
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: August 21, 1893
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 15, 1918