Ten Greatest Composers: Beyond the Usual Suspects

Email a Friend

Except for the occasional outlier, lists of the greatest composers usually end up touting the same critical favorites you've been hearing about for years. Not that we don't like Beethoven or Brahms, but it can get a little boring.

For this special podcast, Terrance McKnight sits down with three experts from across the musical spectrum and asks them to rank the 10 greatest classical composers of all time. It comes in the wake of an exhaustively researched top 10 list by New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini, unveiled in the Sunday Arts & Leisure section (and discussed here).

Below are our three guest’s lists. Enjoy the segment and tell us what you think in the comments box below.

Olivia Giovetti, music writer for Time Out New York, Gramophone and Classical Singer

1. Hildegard von Bingen
2. Johann Sebastian Bach
3. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
4. Ludwig van Beethoven
5. Franz Schubert
6. Giuseppe Verdi
7. Gustav Mahler
8. Charles Ives
9. Igor Stravinsky
10. David Lang

Judd Greenstein, composer, curator of the Ecstatic Music Festival, co-director of New Amsterdam Records

1. Claudio Monteverdi
2. Johann Sebastian Bach
3. Ludwig van Beethoven
4. Richard Wagner
5. Igor Stravinsky
6. Edgard Varese
7. Philip Glass
8. Olivier Messiaen
9. John Coltrane
10. Meredith Monk

Fred Plotkin, author of several books including Classical Music 101 and Opera 101

1. Franz Joseph Haydn
2. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
3. Ludwig van Beethoven
4. Franz Schubert
5. Hector Berlioz
6. Vincenzo Bellini
7. Frederic Chopin
8. Richard Wagner
9. Piotr Tchaikovsky
10. Richard Strauss

...And from Anthony Tommasini, Chief Classical Music Critic, New York Times

1. Bach
2. Beethoven
3. Mozart
4. Schubert
5. Debussy
6. Stravinsky
7. Brahms
8. Verdi
9. Wagner
10. Bartok

The Executive Producer of this podcast is Graham Parker.

* To download the audio file, simply right click on "download" and click "save link as." From there you can save the file in a desired folder. Or you can simply listen to the audio stream here.