Who do you believe are the FIVE greatest, living composers of classical music?

When I say "classical music", I mean it in the broadest possible definition.

Film score composers would count. As would all the other Avant Gard composers of the 20th century. Other composers not typically thought of as 'classical' might also qualify for inclusion. But I think we all instinctively have a good idea what the limits are.

My favorite 5, in no particular order:

Philip Glass

John Tavener

Arvo Part

Steve Reich

Pierre Boulez

I am no doubt forgetting some living composers who I also love. But the above are truly great, in my mind.

Who do YOU think are the 5 greatest living composers of classical music??

14 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Mine also not in any order...

    Philip Glass

    (I've never actually heard his music, but I've heard about it)

    Howard Shore

    Hans Zimmer

    Brian Eno

    Me

    (someday)

  • 1 decade ago

    In no particular order:

    *Zhou Long

    *Arvo Part

    *John Williams (if only his concert music were more readily available!!)

    *Joan Tower

    *Coming soon: Bjork

    I have to say: most of the music known as contemporary that bears the stereotype that makes people hate it, is a bygone era, like the Classical era, the Romantic era, etc. The Modern era has passed. Phillip Glass belongs to this new era (may it not be called minimalism!) as does Arvo Part. I consider Corigliano as a bridge composer between the Modern and whatever we're in, as is John Williams, Chris Rouse, Zhou Long and several others. We need to keep in mind that while Glass, Reich, Part, Williams are all living, they're also all over 70. Many of them studied under the noisemakers, so-to-speak, and have started a new stylistic era.

    Source(s): My humble opinion
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

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    RE:

    Who do you believe are the FIVE greatest, living composers of classical music?

    When I say "classical music", I mean it in the broadest possible definition.

    Film score composers would count. As would all the other Avant Gard composers of the 20th century. Other composers not typically thought of as 'classical' might also qualify for inclusion. But I...

    Source(s): greatest living composers classical music: https://tr.im/X88La
  • 1 decade ago

    Oh, Malcolm, please open your mind. Your posts are usually informative, intelligent and interesting but this one seems a little narrow-minded and reactionary for you. All dead composers were alive once. Did their music suddenly become great when they died? No, of course not - it was always great - even if it was not fully recognised in their lifetimes.

    To previous posters - Karel Husa is indeed still alive and (I hope) well. Astor Piazzolla died in 1992, however, and cannot qualify for this question. I'll ignore the person who thought people like Satie and Debussy were still alive (yikes!).

    In no particular order, I think the five living composers whose music will live on the most strongly are:

    Kalevi Aho

    Arvo Pärt

    John Corigliano

    Rodion Shchedrin

    John Woolrich

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  • 1 decade ago

    Oooh...yes...a fun question! I love contemporary composers so for me this is a tough decision! First off, let me say that I think there is a huge difference in who I think are the greatest and who probaby really are the greatest...hehe. So I will list both!

    The 5 greatest living composers (in no particular order):

    1. Pierre Boulez

    2. Steve Reich

    3. John Corigliano

    4. Christopher Rouse

    5. George Crumb

    (I wish I could put Gyorgy Ligeti and Witold Lutoslawski on this list, but they are no longer with us! They are truly among the greatest composers of the century and died in recent years)

    Here are my personal favs (among the living):

    1. Pierre Boulez

    2. Steve Reich

    3. Thomas Ades

    4. Robert Beaser

    5. Joseph Schwantner

    (Aaron Jay Kernis, Lukas Ligeti, Ellen Taafe Zwilich, Pauline Oliveros, Michael Daugherty, John Zorn, and George Tsontakis are also interesting to me. I also do LOVE Tavener...'Eternity's Sunrise' is to DIE for...it is just heavenly).

    have you seen the Qatsi trilogy (film set by Godfrey Reggio)? Philip Glass does the music - and a fantastic job, if you ask me...even though he apparently hates writing film music (which is funny b/c he has done a lot of it!)

    EDIT: Ooh yes... I saw someone say Karel Husa...he is also brilliant! And to Malcolm: Say it ain't so! I usually enjoy reading your posts! But this one was like daggers! :(

  • 1 decade ago

    John Rutter

    Randall Stroope

    John Williams

    Hans Zimmer

    Howard Shore

    I would add that, for the most part, I despise modern music. Each of the composers I have listed, though living, is an example of relatively traditionalist thinking amid an increasingly decadent musical context.

    As for the respondent who was criticized for saying there are no great living composers, I'd like to contend that music is one field in which being reactionary is not at all bad.

    Modern composers (I generalize here, of course) have taken it upon themselves to strip music of its aesthetic beauty and replace it with dissonant, technical, clanging noise. We young musicians should forgo this temptation, and instead look to the TRULY great composers for our inspiration, nearly all of whom are dead.

  • 1 decade ago

    My Top 5

    Arvo Part

    John Williams

    Eric Whitacre

    Howard Shore

    John Rutter

    Source(s): music major
  • 1 decade ago

    no order

    Arvo Part (I agree with you :D)

    John Williams

    Howard Shore

    Astor Piazzolla

    Danny Elfman

    I realize that 3 of these write movie music, but i think greatness in music is defined as the ability to move an audience through the medium that is the composition and these 3 write truly moving music to me.

  • Ron Mael

    Ian Anderson

    Elton John

    Roger Waters

    John Williams

    You did say in its "broadest possible definition".

  • Edik
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Not necessarily in this order...

    Pierre Boulez

    Arvo Part

    John Adams

    John Corigliano

    Elliott Carter

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