A List of Composers

Tagging your music with the correct composer (or ‘artist’) tag is harder than it ought to be. Should it be ‘Mozart, Wolfgang’ rather than ‘Wolfgang Mozart’, for example? Or ‘Georg Friderick Händel’ instead of ‘George Frideric Handel’?

Well, naturally opinions will vary, but I’ve pulled together a starter list of around 500 composer names in formats and forms which I use in my own music tagging -and which I therefore encourage you to use as well. Wherever possible, the name I show matches what The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians lists as the ‘approved’ spelling. I trust that it’s obvious that no list like this can be truly definitive: there are a bazillion classical music composers not listed here, simply because I don’t have examples of their work in my own music collection. But I’m not attempting to be definitive, merely prescriptive about what good composer and artist tags ought  to look like!

Some explanatory footnotes are indicated against particular names: click on them to expand them and reveal their complete text. As my mood takes me, and as time permits, I will try to attach biographical articles to many of these composer entries. If a composer’s name appears as a hyperlink when hovered over, click the name to take you to that composer’s biographical article.


|A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M|N|O|P|R|S|T|U|V|W|Z|


A

  • Aaron Copland
  • Adolph Weiss
  • Adolphe Adam
  • Adrian Willaert
  • Adriano Banchieri
  • Alan Hovhaness
  • Alan Rawsthorne
  • Alban Berg
  • Albert Ketelbey
  • Albert Roussel
  • Alessandro Stradella
  • Alessandro Striggio
  • Alexander Agricola
  • Alexander Borodin
  • Alexander Glazunov
  • Alexander Goedicke
  • Alexander Scriabin
  • Alexander Zemlinsky
  • Alfred Schnittke
  • Alfredo Catalani
  • Alfredo Casella
  • Alonso Lobo
  • Alphonse Hasselmans
  • Alun Hoddinott
  • Amilcare Ponchielli
  • Anatol Liadov
  • Andrea Gabrieli
  • André Caplet
  • André Mathieu
  • Anthony Holborne
  • Antoine Brumel
  • Antoine Busnois
  • Anton Arensky
  • Anton Bruckner
  • Antonín Dvořák 1The diacriticals are… er, critical!
  • Antonio Bertali
  • Antonio Caldara
  • Antonio Lotti
  • Antonio Rosetti
  • Antonio Salieri
  • Antonio Soler
  • Antonio Vivaldi
  • Anton Webern
  • Aram Ilich Khachaturian 2If you use ‘Aram Khacturian’, you are not wrong. But Last.FM will auto-translate that to Արամ Խաչատրյան, which is handy if you’re Armenian, but annoying if you are not. I add the ‘Ilich’ patronymic to allow an English-language version of his name to appear in my track listings. However, I think the “Aram Khachaturian” version is technically correct (the best sort of correct!) and the three-word version is incorrect …but, nevertheless, functionally preferable.
  • Arcangelo Corelli
  • Armand-Louis Couperin
  • Arnold Bax
  • Arnold Schönberg
  • Arrigo Boito
  • Arthur Benjamin
  • Arthur Bliss
  • Arthur Honegger
  • Arthur Sullivan
  • Arvo Pärt
  • Aulis Sallinen
  • Avet Terterian

B

  • Bedrich Smetana
  • Bela Bartok
  • Benedetto Marcello
  • Benjamin Britten
  • Benjamin Godard
  • Bohuslav Martinů
  • Brenardo Storace
  • Brian Ferneyhough

C

  • Camille Saint-Saëns
  • Carl Maria von Weber
  • Carl Nielsen
  • Carl Orff
  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
  • Carlo Gesualdo
  • Carlos Salzedo
  • César Franck
  • Charles Avison
  • Charles Gounod
  • Charles Hubert Parry
  • Charles Ives
  • Charles Valentin Alkan
  • Charles Villiers Stanford
  • Charles Wood
  • Charles-Marie Widor
  • Christian Cannabich
  • Christoph Demantius
  • Christoph Graupner 3Full name was actually Johann Christoph Graupner, but the Johann is in brackets in The New Grove, and all CD manufacturers and Wiki editors seems to simply call him ‘Christoph’, so Christoph it is!
  • Christopher Tye
  • Christoph Willibald Gluck
  • Cipriano de Rore
  • Claude Debussy
  • Claude Goudimel
  • Claudio Merulo
  • Claudio Monteverdi
  • Colin Mawby
  • Colin McPhee
  • Compilation 4This is the ‘catch-all’ artist name to use when tagging one of those ‘mood’ CDs that has dozens of tracks that are each by different composers, but all related to some over-arching theme. Think ‘Christmas Carols at Kings’, for example. It would be madness to tag each track separately as a separate ‘album’, even though that’s technically what’s required by general classical tagging principles. Instead, keep all the tracks as part of one album and declare their composer to be “Compilation”. Think of it as classical music’s “miscellaneous” or “other”.
  • Cristóbal de Morales
  • Cristofaro Caresana
  • Cyril Scott

D

  • Danny Elfman
  • Darius Milhaud
  • Diderik Buxtehude
  • Dmitri Stepanovich Bortnyansky5This is the correct spelling (including the middle Patronymic, which isn’t optional) as per The New Grove. Last.fm has a bazillion possible variations: all bar this one are wrong!
  • Dmitri Kabalevsky
  • Dmitri Shostakovich6Why no Patronymic? Because The New Grove puts it into brackets -unlike their entry for Bortnyansky, for example. The New Grove also spells his first name ‘Dmitry’ (with a “y”), not Dmitri (with an ‘i’), so technically I should use the ‘y’ version too. I don’t because Last.fm doesn’t have an entry for “Dmitry”, only for “Dmitri”.
  • Domenico Gabrielli
  • Domenico Mazzocchi
  • Domenico Scarlatti
  • Dominic Muldowney
  • Donald Grantham

E

  • Edmund Rubbra
  • Edouard Lalo
  • Edvard Grieg
  • Edward Bairstow
  • Edward Chapman
  • Edward Elgar
  • Einar Englund
  • Elias Parish Alvars
  • Eliza Gilkyson
  • Elizabeth Poston
  • Elmer Bernstein
  • Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek
  • Emilio de’ Cavalieri7Note the apostrophe after ‘de’ is often left out on CD cases etc, but the New Groves is clear it should be there
  • Emmanuel Chabrier
  • Engelbert Humperdinck
  • Eric Korngold
  • Erik Satie
  • Ernest Bloch
  • Ernest Chausson
  • Ernest Moeran8For some reason, Last.fm claim that this name is incorrect and that ‘Ernest John Moeran’ is the right name-form. But he was actually called Ernest John Smeed Moeran… and no-one’s claiming that the ‘Smeed’ is compulsory! So why the ‘John’ is claimed to be essential, I have no idea. I can find no evidence that Moeran used the ‘John’ bit himself: most of his music is printed with an attribution to ‘E. J. Moeran’, after all. So I’m saying to leave the ‘John’ bit out.
  • Eubie Blake
  • Euday L. Bowman 9Everyone I read says “Euday L. Bowman”, without spelling out “Louis”, so ‘Euday Bowman’ or ‘Euday Louis Bowman’ might be more ‘correct’, but ‘Euday L. Bowman’ seems to be more in common parlance.
  • Eugene Goossens
  • Eugène Ysaÿe
  • Eustache du Caurroy

F

  • Felix Mendelssohn
  • Fernando Obradors
  • Fernando Sor
  • Ferruccio Busoni
  • Flor Peeters
  • Francesco Cavalli
  • Francesco Cilea
  • Francesco Durante
  • Francesco Geminiani
  • Francesco Mancini
  • Francesco Manfredini
  • Francesco Maria Veracini
  • Francis Pilkington
  • Francis Poulenc
  • Francisco Tarrega
  • François Couperin
  • Frank Bridge
  • Franz Krommer
  • Franz Liszt
  • Franz Schubert
  • Franz Tunder
  • Franz von Suppé
  • Frederick Delius
  • Fryderyk Chopin

G

  • Gabriel Fauré
  • Gaetano Donizetti
  • Gaetano Veneziano
  • Georg Christoph Bach
  • Georg Christoph Wagenseil
  • Georg Matthais Monn
  • Georg Muffat
  • Georg Philipp Telemann
  • George Butterworth
  • George Frideric Handel
  • George Gershwin
  • George Kirbye
  • Georges Bizet
  • Georgs Pelecis
  • Gerald Finzi
  • Gerard Victory
  • Giacomo Antonio Perti
  • Giacomo Carissimi
  • Giacomo Puccini
  • Gian Carlo Menotti
  • Gian Francesco Malipiero
  • Giles Farnaby
  • Gioacchino Rossini
  • Giorgio Federico Ghedini
  • Giovanni Bottesini
  • Giovanni Gabrieli
  • Giovanni Legrenzi
  • Giovanni Pergolesi
  • Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
  • Girolamo Frescobaldi
  • Giuseppe Maria Jacchini
  • Giuseppe Torelli
  • Giuseppe Verdi
  • Graeme Koehne
  • Gregorio Allegri
  • Gregorio Lambranzi
  • Guillaume Dufay
  • Guillaume de Machaut
  • Gustav Holst
  • Gustav Mahler
  • György Ligetti

H

  • Hans Werner Henze
  • Hans Zimmer
  • Havergal Brian
  • Haydn Wood
  • Hector Berlioz
  • Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber 10One example of several where a proliferation of names seems appropriate to use, since Heinrich is not generally known by anything other than the complete set of names shown here! “Joseph Bodin de Boismortier” and “Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville” are other notable examples of the multi-name format being the correct one to tag with.
  • Heinrich Schütz
  • Heitor Villa-Lobos
  • Henri Dumont
  • Henriette Renié
  • Henri Frémart
  • Henri Wieniawski
  • Henriette Renié
  • Henryk Górecki
  • Henry F. Gilbert
  • Henry Purcell
  • Henry Vieuxtemps
  • Herbert Howells
  • Hieronymous Praetorius
  • Hildegard von Bingen
  • Howard Goodall
  • Howard Shore
  • Hugo Wolf

I

  • Igor Stravinsky
  • Ildebrando Pizzetti
  • Irving Berlin

J

  • Jacob Obrecht
  • Jacques Ibert
  • Jakub Jan Ryba
  • James Horner
  • Jan Dismas Zelenka
  • Jean-Baptiste Lully
  • Jean-Féry Rebel
  • Jean Françaix
  • Jean Henry d’Anglebert
  • Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville
  • Jean Langlais
  • Jean Mouton
  • Jean-Philippe Rameau
  • Jean Pullois
  • Jean Sibelius
  • Joaquín Rodrigo
  • Johann Abraham Schmierer
  • Johann Bach
  • Johann Christian Bach
  • Johann Christoph Altnickol
  • Johann Christoph Bach
  • Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach 11There were a lot of Bachs!
  • Johann Christoph Pez12The New Groves permits “Petz” as well as “Pez”, but on the grounds that concision is best, Pez it is!
  • Johannes Brahms
  • Johannes Ockeghem
  • Johann Friedrich Fasch
  • Johann Georg Albrechtsberger
  • Johann Heinrich Schmelzer
  • Johann Joseph Fux
  • Johann Kuhnau
  • Johann Michael Bach
  • Johann Michael Nicolai
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel
  • Johann Schobert
  • Johann Sebastian Bach
  • John Adams
  • John Alden Carpenter
  • John Bennet
  • John Bull
  • John Dowland
  • John Dunstable
  • John Farmer
  • John Field
  • John Foulds
  • John Gay
  • John Ireland
  • John Milton
  • John Parry
  • John Powell
  • John Rutter
  • John Sheppard
  • John Stainer
  • John Tavener
  • John Taverner
  • John Thomas
  • John Wilbye
  • John Williams
  • Josef Gabriel Rheinberger
  • Josef Suk
  • Joseph Bodin de Boismortier
  • Joseph Canteloube
  • Joseph Haydn
  • José Serrano
  • Josquin Desprez
  • Juan Gutierrez de Padilla
  • Jules Massenet
  • Julius Reubke

K

  • Karl Amadeus Hartmann
  • Karl Goldmark
  • Karl Jenkins
  • Krzysztof Penderecki
  • Kurt Weill

L

  • Lennox Berkeley
  • Léo Delibes
  • Leonard Bernstein
  • Leonardo Vinci 13Not that Leonardo! This one’s an early 18th century Italian composer based in Naples. He also doesn’t have a ‘da’ in his name.
  • Leopold Mozart
  • Leoš Janáček
  • Lodovico Viadana
  • Lord Berners 14There are only two examples I can think of where including someone’s title in the Composer tag is probably appropriate: Lord Berners and Sir John Blackwood McEwan, since no-one ever seems to mention their names without the title. If you wanted to strictly apply the normal rules of title-less tagging, you’d really have to refer to “John Blackwood McEwan”; but for Lord Berners it’s more problematic. “Berners” would seem to be entirely too concise! So perhaps you’d need to run with “Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson” (given that that was Lord Berner’s real name)? It would be a name no-one else is ever going to be familiar with, at least! On the whole, I think “Lord Berners” is the more acceptable alternative.
  • Louis Couperin
  • Louis Vierne
  • Louis-Nicolas Clérambault
  • Loyset Compère
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Luigi Boccherini
  • Luigi Dallapiccola
  • Luis de Milán
  • Luys de Narváez
  • Lynn Palmer

M

  • Malcolm Arnold
  • Malcolm Williamson
  • Manuel Cardoso
  • Manuel de Falla
  • Marc-Antoine Charpentier
  • Marcel Dupré
  • Marcel Grandjany
  • Marcel Poot
  • Marcel Tournier
  • Marco Gioseppe Peranda
  • Marin Marais
  • Martin Peerson
  • Maurice Duruflé
  • Maurice Ravel
  • Max Bruch
  • Max Reger
  • Melchior Neusidler
  • Michael Haydn
  • Michael Praetorius
  • Michael Tippett
  • Michel Pignolet de Montéclair
  • Michel-Richard de Lalande
  • Modest Mussorgsky
  • Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe 15Recent research suggests his first name was ‘Jean’, but no-one was sure of his first name until recently and there’s still dispute about it. For centuries, he has been known simply as ‘Mr. de Sainte-Colombe’, and is recorded as such in The New Grove, so that’s how I think he should be catalogued these days -though using ‘Monsieur’ for ‘Mr’, because …well, he was French!
  • Morton Feldman
  • Muzio Clementi

N

  • Ned Rorem
  • Niccolò Jommelli16The ò is as per The New Grove dictionary
  • Niccolò Paganini17The ò is as per The New Grove dictionary
  • Nicola Porpora
  • Nicolai Miaskovsky
  • Nikolai Medtner
  • Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
  • Nikolai Tcherepnin
  • Nikolaus Bruhns
  • Nino Rota

O

  • Olivier Messiaen
  • Orlando Di Lasso
  • Orlando Gibbons
  • Ottorino Respighi

P

  • P. D. Q. Bach 18PDQ Bach gets a mention here because I love him, even though he doesn’t exist! I probably should really catalogue him as Peter Schickele, but since I can never spell his name, let alone remember it, PDQ Bach is of more utility to me. Since he is entirely fictitious, it seems appropriate he’s the only composer to be catalogued by initial rather than full first name (since he doesn’t have one).
  • Patrick Hadley
  • Paul Dukas
  • Paul Hindemith
  • Percy Grainger
  • Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky
  • Peter Maxwell Davies
  • Peter Philips
  • Peter Sculthorpe
  • Peter Warlock
  • Pēteris Vasks 19The “ē”, rather than a plain old “e”, is important enough to get right!
  • Petronio Franceschini
  • Petrus de Domarto
  • Philip Glass
  • Philippe de Monte
  • Philippe Verdelot
  • Pierre Attaingnant
  • Pierre Villette
  • Pietro Antonacci
  • Pietro Antonio Locatelli
  • Pietro Mascagni

R

  • Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Rebecca Clarke
  • Reinhard Keiser
  • Reinhold Gliere
  • Richard Addinsell
  • Richard Farrant
  • Richard Rodney Bennett
  • Richard Runciman Terry
  • Richard Strauss
  • Richard Wagner
  • Robert Fayrfax
  • Robert Jones
  • Robert Parsons
  • Robert Saxton
  • Robert Schumann
  • Robert White
  • Rodion Shchedrin
  • Roger Quilter
  • Roger Sessions
  • Rued Langgaard

S

  • Samuel Barber
  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
  • Samuel Scheidt
  • Saverio Mercadente
  • Scott Joplin
  • Sergei Prokofiev
  • Sergei Rachmaninov
  • Sergei Taneyev
  • Silvestro Ganassi
  • Sir John Blackwood McEwan 20The second example I can think of where including someone’s title in the Composer tag is probably appropriate: Lord Berners is the other one. Both get their titles simply because no-one ever seems to mention their names without the associated title (unlike in the case of Edward Elgar, for example). If you wanted to strictly apply the rules of title-less tagging, then you’d really have to refer to plain “John Blackwood McEwan”, which causes him to be filed under J. There are already a lot of Js!.
  • Sophia Corri Dussek
  • Stephen Paulus
  • Stephen Tharp

T

  • Thoinot Arbeau
  • Thomas Arne
  • Thomas Morley
  • Thomas Tallis
  • Thomas Tomkins
  • Thomas Weelkes
  • Tomás Luis de Victoria
  • Tomaso Albinoni
  • Toru Takemitsu
  • Trish Clowes
  • Tylman Susato

U

  • Umberto Giordano

V

  • Vagn Holmboe
  • Valentin Silvestrov
  • Vassily Kalinnikov
  • Veljo Tormis
  • Vincent Lübeck
  • Vincenzo Bellini
  • Virgil Thomson
  • Vítězslav Novák

W

  • Walter Piston
  • Wilhelm Friedemann Bach
  • William Alwyn
  • William Bolcom
  • William Boyce
  • William Busch
  • William Byrd
  • William Henry Harris
  • William Herschel
  • William Mathias
  • William Mundy
  • William Russo
  • William Walton
  • Will Todd
  • Witold Lutoslawski
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Z

  • Zbigniew Preisner
  • Zoltan Kodaly