A child prodigy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is regarded as one of the greatest classical composers ever. A prolific composer, he had a profound influence on Western music. Many of his works are considered pinnacles of choral, symphonic, operatic, chamber, and concertante music. Before his death, at the age of 35, he had composed over 600 works.
German composer and pianist, Ludwig van Beethoven, remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music even two centuries after his death. Born into a musical family, he was initially tutored by his father. He found success early as a pianist and went on to become an admired composer despite suffering from hearing-impairment.
Johann Sebastian Bach was an 18-th century German composer of the Baroque period. He redefined both church and secular music. He served as the court musician of Duke Johann Ernst and King Augustus III. He created more than 300 cantatas and vocal music such as Mass in B minor.
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.
George Frideric Handel was a Baroque composer renowned for his oratorios, operas, anthems, and organ concertos. A great composer, Handel's works had a strong influence on popular Classical-era composers like Beethoven and Mozart. George Frideric Handel's life and work have also inspired several films, such as the 1942 British biographical film The Great Mr. Handel.
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.
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.
Karlheinz Stockhausen was a German composer widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most prominent and controversial composers. Remembered for his pioneering work in electronic music, Stockhausen received several distinctions and prizes throughout his career. His compositions remain widely influential on jazz, popular music, and composers.
Johann Pachelbel was a German composer, teacher, and organist who is credited with helping the south German organ schools achieve their peak. His contributions to the progression of the fugue and chorale prelude have established him as one of the most prominent composers of the middle Baroque era. During his lifetime, his music became a model for several German composers.
William Herschel was a German-born British astronomer and composer. He pioneered the use of astronomical spectrophotometry and discovered infrared radiation. Impressed by his work, King George III appointed him the Court Astronomer. Herschel often collaborated with his sister, Caroline Lucretia Herschel, a fellow astronomer. In 1816, he was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order.
German composer Carl Orff is remembered for his work in operas and his innovative music education system, which relied on group exercises and playing percussion instruments. A man who had started training in music at 5, Orff later co-founded the Günther School to impart lessons in dance, music, and gymnastics.
German-born British composer Max Richter is known for his experiments with classical music, which he often mingles with contemporary electronica. Apart from performing at sold-out concerts at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, he has also composed for shows such as Black Mirror and Taboo and films such as Hostiles.
Kurt Weill was a German composer best remembered for his collaboration with Bertolt Brecht. An influential composer, Weill's music has been recorded by several performers like Frank Sinatra and David Bowie. Singers like Marianne Faithfull and Anne Sofie von Otter have recorded several albums of his music. His music continues to be performed in classical as well as popular contexts.
E. T. A. Hoffmann was a German author, jurist, artist, composer, and music critic. His stories served as an inspiration and laid the foundation for The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is also based on Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Hoffmann is among the most influential authors of the Romantic Movement.
German violinist and composer Leopold Mozart is best remembered as the father and music teacher of legendary composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. However, Leopold was often blamed for exploiting his son’s musical talent by pushing him to perform as a child. He also had a troubled relationship with his adult son.
A member of the SA, the paramilitary wing of the German Nazi Party, Horst Wessel was murdered by his enemies, probably Communists. Following his death, he was hailed as a Nazi hero and martyr. The song Horst Wessel Lied later became the Nazi anthem and the co-national anthem of Nazi Germany.
Carl Maria von Weber was a German composer, virtuoso pianist, guitarist, and conductor. A significant musical figure in the Romantic era, he played a key role in the development of the German Romantische Oper (German Romantic opera). He also made significant contributions to vocal and choral music. He was a music critic as well and wrote music journalism.
Although German composer and violinist Paul Hindemith had collaborated with leftist and Jewish musicians, his apolitical stance made him a favorite of the Nazis initially. However, he was later forced to comply with Nazi dictatorship. He moved to the U.S. after his performances were banned in Germany.
Max Bruch composed his first song at 9 for his mother’s birthday and then earned a scholarship after creating a symphony at the tender age of 14. He worked extensively with the choral societies of Germany and is remembered for his iconic Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor.
German composer and big band leader James Last, who headed the James Last Orchestra, had begun his career as a jazz bassist. At 17, he led the Becker-Last Ensemble, which disbanded after 7 years. He is known for his dance hits, especially his iconic Non-Stop Dancing albums.
Herbert Grönemeyer is a musician, singer, composer, producer, and actor. After appearing as Lieutenant Werner in the popular West German war film Das Boot, Grönemeyer went on to focus on his musical career. Over a period of time, Grönemeyer became one of the most successful German musicians of all time, having sold more than 13 million copies of his albums.
Max Reger was a German conductor, composer, organist, pianist, and academic teacher. Reger, who mainly composed Lieder, worked as a musical director at the court of Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen and at the Leipzig University Church. His works inspired Austrian-born composer Arnold Schoenberg. His life and career served as an inspiration to a couple of documentary films.
German composer and conductor Hans von Bülow was one of the greatest musical figures of the Romantic era. Known for his work with composers such as Richard Wagner, he eventually lost his wife, Cosima, to him. In his final years, his failing health made him retire to Cairo, where he eventually died.