It's quite fascinating to read about the lives of prominent composers of the past. There's always something new to discover about them; their childhood, the struggles they had to overcome, their body of work and the friendships they formed during their lifetime. Here we will get to know several noteworthy composers and the distinguished mentors who influenced them.
William Byrd was one of the leading English composers of the late Renaissance who helped develop English madrigals. He wrote church, secular, consort and keyboard music; among others. He served as organist at Chapel Royal, a post he shared with his mentor Thomas Tallis
Heinrich Schütz was a German composer of the 17th century whose works influenced other composers after him, including Johann Sebastian Bach. His works include Italian madrigals, an opera, vocal and instrumental pieces. In 1610, he traveled to Venice where he studied music mostly under the guidance of Giovanni Gabrielli
William Mason came from a music-loving family; although at first his father wanted him to become a clergyman. He was the third son of Lowell Mason, considered as the "Father of American church music." His brother, Henry Mason, was one of the founders of the Mason & Hamlin Company. Franz Liszt
became one of Mason's piano teachers.
Georges Bizet was a French composer who influenced the verismo school of opera. He wrote operas, orchestral works, incidental music, compositions for piano and songs. Charles Gounod
became one of his teachers.
Gabriel Faure was one of the leading French composers of the 19th century. He taught at the Paris Conservatory; Maurice Ravel and Nadia Boulanger were among his students. Camille Saint-Saëns
became one of Faure's teachers and the two remained friends long after Faure graduated in 1865.
Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov is probably the most prolific among the five composers who comprised "The Mighty Five." He wrote operas, symphonies, orchestral works and songs. Rimsky-Korsakov also became conductor of military bands, director of St. Petersburg's Free Music School from 1874 to 1881 and conducted various concerts in Russia. Mily Balakirev
was one of his mentors.
Edward Alexander MacDowell was an American composer, pianist and teacher who was one of the first to incorporate native tunes in his works. Primarily known for his piano pieces, particularly his smaller works; MacDowell became the head of the music department of Columbia University from 1896 to 1904. MacDowell studied with Teresa Carreño
in New York City.
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was a Russian composer who served in the military. Although his father wanted him to pursue a military career, it was evident that Mussorgsky's passion was in music. Russian composer Mily Balakirev
became one of his teachers.
Alban Berg was an Austrian composer and teacher who adapted the atonal style. He was a student of Arnold Schoenberg
; his early works reflected Schoenberg's influence on his pupil. However, Berg's originality and creativity became more evident in his later works, especially in his two operas: "Lulu" and "Wozzeck."
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer of the 20th century known for his innovative, avant-garde ideas of creating and appreciating music. Many consider him a genius, though there are those who think otherwise. He studied with Arnold Schoenberg
free of charge.