Essential Classical Composers

Everyone’s telling us how much they loved our list of Essential Classical Composers and Jazz Artists! Well, almost everyone. You have strong opinions about who made the top 13—and who didn’t.

It's WRTI’s Essential Countdown!  You voted, and here are the results...

Four notes (the first three of which are the same) say “classical music” to more people around the world than any other bit of music anyone else has ever written. When Ludwig van Beethoven finally chose those notes, he not only figured out the beginning of his Fifth Symphony and branded classical music forever, he also staked a claim—with an audacity and a power unlike anyone else before or since—to be recognized as “the” composer of classical music.

"Study Bach. There you will find everything." That's what Johannes Brahms said about the King of Baroque. Johann Sebastian Bach is the composer, above all others, whom other composers point to as The One.

There’s something about those tunes. From Romeo and Juliet to The Nutcracker to the 1812 Overture to the Serenade and symphonies and concertos, Tchaikovsky’s melodies were the first bits of classical music many of us first fell in love with.

You weighed the tons of concertos and voted the Red Priest your No. 5 Essential Classical Composer. Antonio Vivaldi has a reputation for having written too much similar-sounding music, but we say "fie" to that—fie; there, we said it!

WRTI's Essential Jazz Artist No. 4: Dave Brubeck

Feb 7, 2017

If you “Take Five” to listen to music “In Your Own Sweet Way,” then let’s call a Time Out and just say that you’re thinking of Dave Brubeck. Enough of you did to vote him your No. 4 Most Essential Jazz Artist.

The lovable curmudgeon is on everyone’s short list of favorites, it seems, so it’s no surprise that Johannes Brahms is the No. 6 Most Essential Classical Composer by your vote. The symphonies, the Requiem, the concertos and chamber works, and piano pieces and songs—he wrote everything except an opera.

Melodies that will melt your heart, and piano passages that will bust your knuckles—that’s what Sergei Rachmaninoff brings to the table. From symphonies to piano concertos, this Russian composer’s music moves you so much you voted him the No. 7 Most Essential Classical Composer.

Appalachian Spring. Billy the Kid. Rodeo. Fanfare for the Common Man. “I Bought Me a Cat.” Aaron Copland’s music cries out “America.” The kid from Brooklyn learned from a teacher in Paris, and became America’s leading composer during his lifetime and more. You voted him your No. 8 Most Essential Classical Composer.

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