Composers play many different roles, they can be performers, songwriters, educators or conductors. Here are several celebrated composers of the past who were also respected conductors. Learn more about their lives, important works and other pertinent facts.
Nadia Boulanger was a respected teacher of musical composition, an organist and conductor of the 20th century. In 1937, she became the first woman to conduct a program in its entirety with London's Royal Philharmonic. She was very supportive of her sister, Lili, a celebrated composer. Nadia Boulanger taught privately too, maintaining what is known among her students as the "Wednesday sessions". Indeed, she has to some degree played the role of a mother, not only to her sister Lili, but to all her students.
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer, conductor and teacher especially known for his orchestral works and symphonies. He composed "Finlandia" in 1899, it is a very powerful composition that made Sibelius a national figure.
Heitor Villa-Lobos was a prolific Brazilian composer, conductor, music educator and advocate of Brazilian music. His works reflected his country's music flavor fused with influences from composers such as Stravinsky and the music of Eastern Europe. His etudes and preludes for the guitar remain popular to this day.
Karl Lawrence King was an American bandmaster, conductor, composer of marches, bartione player in circus bands earlier in his career and shares the title "March King" with John Philip Sousa. His most famous work is "Barnum and Bailey's Favorite".
Richard Strauss was a German Romantic composer and conductor; considered as Richard Wagner's heir.
Edward Elgar was an English, Romantic composer, who, according to Richard Strauss, was the "first English progressive musician.' Although Elgar was mostly self-taught, his innate gift for music enabled him to reach creative heights only few are able to accomplish.
Carl Orff was a German composer who developed a method of teaching children about the elements of music. The Orff method or Orff approach is still widely used in many schools to this day. Here's more information on Carl Orff.
Aaron Copland was a composer who understood how music, and how the listeners appreciated it, changed during the 20th century. He had his own unique style of composing and helped bring American music to the forefront. Copland wrote the ballet "Billy the Kid" and "Rodeo" which were both based on American folk stories. He also wrote film scores for "Of Mice and Men" and "The Red Pony", both novels are written by John Steinbeck. Learn more about Aaron Copland.
Richard Wagner was a German composer and librettist famous for his operas. Among his famous operas are "Tannhäuser,"", "Der Ring des Nibelungen," "Tristan und Isolde" and "Parsifal."
Sergey Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff was a Russian piano virtuoso and composer. Under the advice of his cousin, a concert pianist by the name of Aleksandr Siloti, Sergey was sent to study under Nikolay Zverev. Some of Rachmaninoff's most famous works are "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,""Symphony No. 2 in E Minor," "Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor" and "Symphonic Dances."