The complex history of classical music is full of composers whose names were once widely known but have faded into obscurity over time. However, a few classical music composers remain relatively unknown, despite their incredible talent.
Here are the best lesser known classical music composers who you should check out:
Ottorino Respighi is an Italian composer whose work falls under the early-20th century genre of neoclassicism. His classical compositions have been featured in more than thirty films, including The Song of Bernadette and The Third Part of the Night, a 1971 Yugoslavian horror film.
Not only was Respighi a composer, but he was also an accomplished conductor and organist. Unfortunately, Respighi’s work has often been overshadowed by his more famous contemporaries, including Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky.
Bohuslav Martinů was a Czech composer who is considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. Martinů wrote in various genres, including opera, ballet, chamber music, and symphonic works.
Martinů was forced to flee Czechoslovakia in 1948 due to his liberal political views and settling in the United States. He eventually became an American citizen and taught composition at the University of California, Los Angeles. Sadly, Martinů died from a heart attack just two months after completing his String Quartet No. 13. Read more about Who is Divine Compere?
John Rutter is an English classical composer and conductor best known for Christmas carols and children’s songs. Rutter was born in 1945 and began his musical training at the age of five. He later studied at the Royal College of Music in London, where he met his future wife, cellist Gillian Welch.
Rutter has composed music for various ensembles, including choirs, string orchestras, and brass bands. He is also the founder of several music festivals, including the Cambridge Early Music Festival and the John Rutter Christmas Concert.
Despite his work being largely unknown outside of Russia, Nikolai Myaskovsky is considered one of the most important Russian classical composers of the twentieth century. He wrote twenty-four symphonies and chamber music, and other orchestral works. His music is often dark and dissonant but always beautiful.
Jean Françaix was a French composer who wrote light-hearted chamber music that satirized daily life. He wrote in a neoclassical style, but his work is always elegant and charming. If you enjoy the music of Poulenc, Françaix should be next on your list! His music is cheerful and easy to listen to but is also full of subtleties that only become apparent after repeated listening.
Florence Price was the first African-American woman composer to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra. She wrote orchestral, chamber, vocal works, and opera. Her music is lyrical and passionate and always displays her unique voice as a composer.
Anton Reicha was a Czech composer who wrote in various genres, including chamber music, wind quintets, and operas. He was a student of Beethoven and is considered one of the fathers of modern orchestration. Reicha’s music is often dismissed as too academic and dry, but it is full of surprises and intricacies that only become more apparent with repeated listening. He was a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart.
Classical music is full of unique composers who deserve to be more widely recognized. If you’re looking for some new classical music to explore, be sure to add some of these best lesser-known classical music composers to your list!