Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Your favourite 21st & 20th century film/classical composers?

Recommended Posts

The 21st century: On most days I would probably listen to Lou Harrison and Thomas Newman, they both quite often speak to me on a personal, intimate level and usually have that kind of inventiveness that I enjoy in music.


Here are 10 runner ups that I would listen to the most after the top pick that is Harrison and Newman:


György Ligeti

John Williams

Howard Shore

Joe Hisaishi

Elliot Goldenthal

John Adams

Steve Reich

Philip Glass

Ennio Morricone

Jerry Goldsmith


The composers need to have lived into the 21st century to count as 21st century composers.


The 20th century: Here it is Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel that tops my list - on most days I would listen to Debussy and Ravel more than any other 20th century composers.


The 20 runner ups after them would be:


Bernard Herrmann

Toru Takemitsu

Gustav Mahler

Leoš Janáček

Igor Stravinsky

Sergei Prokofiev

Dmitri Shostakovich

Richard Strauss

Giuseppe Verdi

Benjamin Britten

Alex North

Nino Rota

Béla Bartók

Giacomo Puccini

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Olivier Messiaen

Charles Ives

Carl Orff

Silvestre Revueltas


Pretty sad that not Copland etc made my cut, but that's life I guess.


The composers need to live lived into the 20th century to count as 20th century composers.


Which 21st & 20th century composer(s) would you prefer to listen to on most days (you have to pick a number 1 (2) and are allowed to mention 10 honorable mentions for the 21st century and 20 honorable mentions for the 20th century)?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Favorite.. let's say the ones I discovered and loved so far!


John Williams of course!

  • Gustav Holst
  • Gustav Mahler
  • André Mathieu
  • Sergei Rachmaninov
  • Éric Satie


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

My favourite film composers are on record.

Classical composers whose music that I love, are (among others) Holst, Bartók, Vaughan Williams, Walton, Lord, Emerson, Hackett, Stravinsky, Shostakovitch, Britten, and Rautavaara.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

In no order.







Maxwell Davies







Vaughan Williams



































A bit too inclusive perhaps, but hey, I'm a lover of 20th century music! Top 10 lists be damned.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Harrison is a great underappreciated choice, an important link in American music between Ives/Copland and the minimalists.  Colorful, sensuous, and vast, expansive landscape music.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


For film my favourites are...

1. John Williams

2. Howard Shore

3. Michael Giacchino

4. Thomas Newman

5. Jerry Goldsmith

6. Alan Menken

and sometimes Hans Zimmer


For classical my favourites are...

1. Sergei Prokofiev

2. Claude Debussy

3. Jean Sibelius

4. Igor Stravinsky

5. Aaron Copland

6. Dimitry Shostakovich

7. Leos Janacek

8. Erik Satie

9. George Gershwin

10. Bela Bartok


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

For film:

1.  John Williams
2.  Howard Shore
3.  Jerry Goldsmith
4.  Clint Mansell
5.  James Horner
6.  Michael Kamen
7.  Christopher Young
8.  Hans Zimmer (at times)
9.  Scott Glasgow
10. Leonard Rosenman

Plenty of honorable mentions: Herrmann, Rozsa, and the other golden and silver age composers I don't know all that well; Beltrami, Newman, Goldenthal, Isham, and occasionally Giacchino and Harry Gregson-Williams today.  Zuckerman and Wintory will probably join the list in time.


Concert music somehow became a Top 24, and since the order doesn't really matter after about #8 or so, I didn't want to remove anyone.

1.  Krzysztof Penderecki (all eras)
2.  Richard Strauss
3.  Toshio Hosokawa
4.  Gerard Grisey
5.  Witold Lutoslawski
6.  Jean Sibelius
7.  Helmut Lachenmann
8.  Lepo Sumera
9.  Dmitri Shostakovich
10. Pascal Dusapin
11. Thea Musgrave
12. George Crumb
13. Gustav Holst
14. Wojciech Kilar
15. Gustav Mahler
16. Toru Takemitsu
17. Marina Khorkova
18. Sergei Rachmaninov
19. Kaija Saariaho
20. Per Henrik Nordgren
21. Alan Hovhaness
22. Karol Szymanowski
23. Takuma Itoh
24. Matthias Pintscher


So, yeah, lots, but my two #1 picks fit your request, and for 21st century specifically that would default to Hosokawa.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Christ on a bike, how could I forget Kilar, Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Dusapin, Grisey and Crumb? Nørgård is another stupid omission.



I hate lists. They trigger my analysis paralysis.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Composers Who Died in the 20th Century


A few days ago I tried to make a list of 22 of my favourite 20th Century composers for this thread, but I gave up when the shortlist reached about 80 names. Even if I could have whittled it down to 22 names which felt right at the time (I couldn't) the list would have been out of date by the next day. On the other hand, listing all of the candidates as equals doesn't convey that some of these composers have a better chance of making the cut, on a random day, than others. So I've gone for the following approach:

  • ★★★★★  goes only to the two mandatory top picks.
  • ★★★★  goes to composers who are shoe-ins for the list of 20 runners-up (i.e., composers who I think would be almost certain to make the list on any day)
  • ★★★  indicates a strong contender for the remaining (dozen or so) spots on the runners-up list.
  • ★★  composers are long shots for the runners-up list (i.e., they'd be in with a chance, albeit a slim one, depending on my mood, sobriety, etc., at the time of choosing).
  •   indicates an honourable mention for composers that I really wanted to give a shout-out to, but don't think would have a chance of making the top 22 in view of all the competition.
  • NO STARS  doesn't (necessarily) mean that I actively dislike the composer in question; they're mainly included here to distinguish them from those composers that are unlisted because either (a) I unintentionally overlooked them or (b) I'm entirely unacquainted with them.

It's a crude tool for a crude job. Here is the list:


Yasushi Akutagawa   

George Antheil  ★★½

Blaž Arnič  

Kurt Atterberg  

Georges Auric  ½


Grażyna Bacewicz  ½

Edgar Bainton  

Tadeusz Baird  ½

Mily Balakirev  

Granville Bantock  

Samuel Barber  ½

Elsa Barraine  

Jean Barraqué  ★★★

Béla Bartók  ★★★★½

Arnold Bax  ★★½

Amy Beach  

Paul Ben-Haim  ½

Alban Berg  ★★★½

Lennox Berkeley  

Leonard Bernstein  

Arthur Bliss  

Ernest Bloch  ½

Hakon Børresen   

Rutland Boughton  

Lily Boulanger  ★★½

Nadia Boulanger  

York Bowen  

Tomás Bretón

Havergal Brian  ½

Frank Bridge  

Benjamin Britten  ★★

Max Bruch  ½

Alan Bush  ½

Ferruccio Busoni  ½

George Butterworth  ½


John Cage  

Cornelius Cardew  ★★½

Alfredo Casella  

Carlos Chávez  ½

Halfdan Cleve  ½

Eric Coates  

Aaron Copland  ★★

John Corigliano  ★★

Henry Cowell  ★★

Frederic Hymen Cowen  

Ruth Crawford Seeger  ★★


Luigi Dallapiccola  ★★½

Claude Debussy  ★★★★

Frederick Delius  

Edison Denisov  ★★

Ernő Dohnányi  ½

Franco Donatoni  ★★

Cornelius Dopper  ½

Felix Draeseke  ½

Paul Dukas  

Thomas Dunhill  

Louis Durey  ½

Antonín Dvořák  ★★


Edward Elgar  ½

Maurice Emmanuel  ½

George Enescu  ½


Manuel de Falla  

Ernest Farrar  ½

Morton Feldman  ★★

Gerald Finzi  

Benjamin Frankel  

Luís de Freitas Branco  

Robert Fuchs  


Lūcija Garūta  

André Gedalge  

Roberto Gerhard  ½

Edward German  ½

George Gershwin  

Ruth Gipps  

Alexander Glazunov  ½

Reinhold Glière  

Berthold Goldschmidt  ½

Eugene Goossens  

Percy Grainger  ½

Edvard Grieg  

Gérard Grisey  ★★★

Eivind Groven  


Henry Kimball Hadley  

Ilmari Hannikainen  ½

Howard Hanson  ½

Roy Harris  ★★★

Karl Amadeus Hartmann  ½

Hamilton Harty  ½

Kunikiho Hashimoto  

Siegmund von Hausegger  

Fumio Hayasaka  ★★½

Victor Herbert  

Bernard Herrmann  

Paul Hindemith  ★★★

Finn Høffding  ½

Vagn Holmboe  ★★

Gustav Holst  ½

Arthur Honegger  ★★½

Alan Hovhaness  


John Ireland  

Jānis Ivanovs  ½

Charles Ives  ★★★½


Leoš Janáček  ★★★★

Joseph Jongen  


Vítěslava Kaprálová  ★★

Aram Khachaturian  ½

Uuno Klami  

Zoltán Kodály  ★★

Charles Koechlin  ★★★

Joonas Kokkonen  ★★½

Erich Wolfgang Korngold  

Hans Krása  ★★½

Ernst Krenek  

Eduard Künneke  ½


Rued Langgaard  ★★★

Lars-Erik Larsson  

Sylvio Lazzari  

Sigurd Lie  

George Lloyd  

Witold Lutosławski  ★★½


Hamish MacCunn  

Bruno Maderna  ★★★

Leevi Madetoja  

Gustav Mahler  ★★★★★

Jean Martinon  

Bohuslav Martinů  ★★½

Toshiro Mayuzami  ★★½

John Blackwood McEwen  

Colin McPhee  ½

Olivier Messaien  ★★½

Darius Milhaud  

Ernest John Moeran  

Nikolai Myaskovsky  ½


Conlon Nancarrow  ★★★

Carl Nielsen  ★★★

Ludolf Nielsen  ½

Luigi Nono  ★★★


Hisato Ohzawa  ½

Carl Orff  


John Knowles Paine  

Andrzej Panufnik  ½

Eduard Patlayenko  

Dora Pejačević  ½

Allan Pettersson  ★★

Ernest Pingoud  

Lyubomir Pipkov  

Walter Piston  ½

Francis Poulenc  ½

Sergei Prokofiev  ★★★

Giacomo Puccini  


Sergei Rachmaninov  ½

Maurice Ravel  ★★★★

Alan Rawsthorne  ½

Ottorino Respighi  

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov  

Jean Rivier  ½

Joaquin Rodrigo  

Albert Roussel  ½

Ludomir Różycki  ½  

Edmund Rubbra  

Carl Ruggles  ★★½

Joseph Ryelandt  


Camille Saint-Saëns  

Giacinto Scelsi  ★★★

Franz Xaver Scharwenka  

Max von Schillings  

Franz Schmidt  

Alfred Schnittke  ★★

Arnold Schoenberg  ★★★★

William Schuman  ★★

Cyril Scott  

Alexander Scriabin  ½

Roger Sessions  ★★½

Giovanni Sgambati  

Dmitri Shostakovich  ★★½

Jean Sibelius  ★★★½

Robert Simpson  ★★★½

Ethel Smyth  

Charles Villiers Stanford  

Maximilian Steinberg  ½

Richard Strauss  ½

Igor Stravinsky  ★★★★½

Karol Szymanowski  ★★


Germaine Tailleferre  

Toru Takemitsu  ★★★

Alexandre Tansman  ½

Virgil Thomson  ½

Heinz Tiessen  ½

Michael Tippett  ★★½

Charles Tournemire  

Geirr Tveitt  ½

Marcel Tyberg  


Edgard Varèse  ★★★½

Ralph Vaughan Williams  ★★★★★

Giuseppe Verdi  

Louis Vierne  

Heitor Villa-Lobos  ½

Claude Vivier  ★★★


William Walton  ½

Anton Webern  ★★★½

Felix Weingartner  

Richard Wetz  

Hermann Hans Wetzler  

Grace Williams  ½

William Wordsworth  ½


Kosaku Yamada  

Akio Yashiro  ★★½

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I just learned Liszt had the same type of following as the Beatles. "Lisztomania" was considered a mental illness. People were trampling over each other to get broken piano strings from him to use as bracelets. The wenches went cray-cray for ol' Ferenc.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this