Giacomo Puccini

Ranked as the greatest exponent of operatic realism, Italian composer Giacomo Puccini was born in 1858 into a musical family, which had five generations of organists and composers. His most popular works are among the most frequently performed and best-loved operas in the entire repertoire. The presence of three theatres presenting opera and a strong […]

Claudio Monteverdi

Considered a child prodigy, Claudio Monteverdi produced his first music for publication, around the age of fifteen—some motets and sacred madrigals—the major genre of Italian secular music in the sixteenth century. At the age of twenty, he composed his first book of secular madrigals Born in Italy in 1567, Monteverdi is rated as one of […]

Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel was born in France in 1875. Being musically talented, he entered the Paris Conservatoire, at the age of 14 where he remained till he was 30. It was during these initial 16 years that Ravel composed some of his best known works. These included the Pavane for a Dead Princess, the Sonatine for […]

George Gershwin

The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, George Gershwin was a school dropout, but a genius, who began playing the piano professionally at age 15, and shockingly died before he was 40. And in this brief stay on the musical scene, Gershwin came to be acknowledged as one of the most significant and popular American composers of […]

György Ligeti

Gyorgy Ligeti, born in 1923 in Romania, studied and taught music in Hungary but during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, he fled to Vienna and later became an Austrian citizen. When he was in his late 30s, Ligeti made the music world sit up with his Future of Music—A Collective Composition (1961) and his Poème […]

Antonín Dvořák

Born in 1841 in Czechoslovakia into a family of butchers and innkeepers, it was presumed that Antonin Dvorak would be destined to follow the family trade. But his flair for music took him elsewhere, and when he was about 12, he began studying harmony, piano, and organ. Later he enrolled at the Institute for Church […]

Felix Mendelssohn

Born in Hamburg, Germany in 1809, Felix Mendelssohn was a musical prodigy. At 9, he made his public debut; at 10, joined the Singakademie music academy; when he was 11, he wrote a violin sonata, two piano sonatas, multiple songs, a cantata, a brief opera & a male quartet. The power of his genius was […]

Bela Bartók

Bela Bartók, born in 1881 into a Hungarian musical family, was something of a prodigy, who began composing at the age of ten. Unlike most of his peers, Bartók embarked on a study of ethnomusicology, after his graduation from the Royal Academy of Music, resulting in the composition of his symphonic poem Kossuth at the […]

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Born in 1840 in Russia, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky began taking piano lessons when he was 5 years old. At the age of 25, he did his first public performance, and by 28 established himself with Piano Concerto No.1 in B-flat Minor. Regarded as the most popular Russian composer in history, Tchaikovsky appealed to the general […]

John Williams

Think of a pianist, conductor and composer who has bagged 52 Academy Award nominations, and worked with legendary directors like Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, Robert Altman, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg; making him the living person with the most nominations, and won five Academy Awards: think John Williams. In a career that spans five decades, […]