A composer is an artist who writes music to be played or performed by musicians. A classical composer might work by writing out musical notation and trying things out on the piano.

If you're a composer, you most likely write classical, jazz, music for film, or another type of primarily instrumental music, without lyrics. A writer of popular or rock music is more likely to be called a "songwriter." A composer might compose symphonies as a profession, or write short tunes as a hobby. In Old French, composer means "put together, arrange, or write," from com-, "with," and poser, "to place."

Definitions of composer
  1. noun
    someone who composes music as a profession
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    Saint Ambrose
    (Roman Catholic Church) Roman priest who became bishop of Milan; the first Church Father born and raised in the Christian faith; composer of hymns; imposed orthodoxy on the early Christian church and built up its secular power; a saint and Doctor of the Church (340?-397)
    Johann Sebastian Bach
    German baroque organist and contrapuntist; composed mostly keyboard music; one of the greatest creators of western music (1685-1750)
    Samuel Barber
    United States composer (1910-1981)
    Bela Bartok
    Hungarian composer and pianist who collected Hungarian folk music; in 1940 he moved to the United States (1881-1945)
    Ludwig van Beethoven
    German composer of instrumental music (especially symphonic and chamber music); continued to compose after he lost his hearing (1770-1827)
    Vincenzo Bellini
    Italian composer of operas (1801-1835)
    Alban Berg
    Austrian composer in Schoenberg's twelve-tone music system (1885-1935)
    Louis-Hector Berlioz
    French composer of romantic works (1803-1869)
    Leonard Bernstein
    United States conductor and composer (1918-1990)
    Georges Bizet
    French composer best known for his operas (1838-1875)
    Marc Blitzstein
    United States pianist and composer of operas and musical plays (1905-1964)
    Ernest Bloch
    United States composer (born in Switzerland) who composed symphonies and chamber music and choral music and a piano sonata and an opera (1880-1959)
    Aleksandr Porfirevich Borodin
    Russian composer (1833-1887)
    Pierre Boulez
    French composer of serial music (born in 1925)
    Johannes Brahms
    German composer who developed the romantic style of both lyrical and classical music (1833-1897)
    Lord Britten of Aldeburgh
    major English composer of the 20th century; noted for his operas (1913-1976)
    Max Bruch
    German composer (1838-1920)
    Anton Bruckner
    Austrian organist and composer of romantic music (1824-1896)
    William Byrd
    English organist and composer of church music; master of 16th century polyphony; was granted a monopoly in music printing with Thomas Tallis (1543-1623)
    John Milton Cage Jr.
    United States composer of avant-garde music (1912-1992)
    Carlos Chavez
    Mexican composer of nationalistic works using themes from Indian folk music (1899-1978)
    Maria Luigi Carlo Zenobio Cherubini
    Italian composer of church music and operas (1760-1842)
    Frederic Francois Chopin
    French composer (born in Poland) and pianist of the romantic school (1810-1849)
    Aaron Copland
    United States composer who developed a distinctly American music (1900-1990)
    Arcangelo Corelli
    Italian violinist and composer of violin concertos (1653-1713)
    Francois Couperin
    French composer of music for organ and a member of a family of distinguished organists (1668-1733)
    Sir Noel Pierce Coward
    English dramatist and actor and composer noted for his witty and sophisticated comedies (1899-1973)
    Karl Czerny
    Austrian virtuoso pianist and composer of many works for the piano; studied with Beethoven and was a teacher of Liszt (1791-1857)
    Claude Achille Debussy
    French composer who is said to have created Impressionism in music (1862-1918)
    Clement Philibert Leo Delibes
    French composer of operas (1836-1891)
    Frederick Delius
    English composer of orchestral works (1862-1934)
    Gaetano Donizetti
    Italian composer of operas (1797-1848)
    John Dowland
    English lutenist and composer of songs for the lute (1563-1626)
    Paul Dukas
    French composer (1865-1935)
    Antonin Dvorak
    Czech composer who combined folk elements with traditional forms (1841-1904)
    Sir Edward William Elgar
    British composer of choral and orchestral works including two symphonies as well as songs and chamber music and music for brass band (1857-1934)
    Georges Enesco
    Romanian violinist and composer (1881-1955)
    Manuel de Falla
    Spanish composer and pianist (1876-1946)
    Cesar Franck
    French composer and teacher who influenced a generation of composers (1822-1890)
    George Gershwin
    United States composer who incorporated jazz into classical forms and composed scores for musical comedies (1898-1937)
    Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka
    Russian composer (1804-1857)
    Christoph Willibald von Gluck
    German composer of more than 100 operas (1714-1787)
    Charles Francois Gounod
    French composer best remembered for his operas (1818-1893)
    George Percy Aldridge Grainger
    United States composer (born in Australia) who lived in London and collected English folk songs (1882-1961)
    Edvard Hagerup Grieg
    Norwegian composer whose work was often inspired by Norwegian folk music (1843-1907)
    Jacques Francois Fromental Elie Halevy
    French operatic composer (1799-1862)
    George Frederick Handel
    a prolific British baroque composer (born in Germany) remembered best for his oratorio Messiah (1685-1759)
    William Christopher Handy
    United States blues musician who transcribed and published traditional blues music (1873-1958)
    Franz Joseph Haydn
    prolific Austrian composer who influenced the classical form of the symphony (1732-1809)
    Paul Hindemith
    German neoclassical composer and conductor who believed that music should have a social purpose (1895-1963)
    Arthur Honegger
    Swiss composer (born in France) who was the founding member of a group in Paris that included Erik Satie and Darius Milhaud and Francis Poulenc and Jean Cocteau (1892-1955)
    Engelbert Humperdinck
    German composer of six operas and other incidental music (1854-1921)
    Jacques Francois Antoine Ibert
    French composer (1890-1962)
    Charles Edward Ives
    United States composer noted for his innovative use of polytonality (1874-1954)
    Joseph Joachim
    Hungarian violinist and composer (1831-1907)
    Scott Joplin
    United States composer who was the first creator of ragtime to write down his compositions (1868-1917)
    Aram Kachaturian
    Armenian composer who incorporated oriental folk music (1903-1978)
    Jerome David Kern
    United States composer of musical comedies (1885-1945)
    Aram Ilich Khachaturian
    Russian composer (born in Armenia) whose works are romantic and reflect his interest in folk music (1903-1978)
    Leonard Constant Lambert
    English composer and conductor (1905-1951)
    Orlando di Lasso
    Belgian composer (1532-1594)
    Huddie Leadbetter
    United States folk singer and composer (1885-1949)
    Franz Lehar
    Hungarian composer of light operas (1870-1948)
    Franz Liszt
    Hungarian composer and piano virtuoso (1811-1886)
    Baron Lloyd Webber of Sydmonton
    English composer of many successful musicals (some in collaboration with Sir Tim Rice) (born in 1948)
    Frederick Loewe
    United States composer (born in Austria) who collaborated with Lerner on several musicals (1901-1987)
    Jean Baptiste Lully
    French composer (born in Italy) who was the court composer to Louis XIV and founded the national French opera (1632-1687)
    Edward MacDowell
    United States composer best remembered as a composer of works for the piano (1860-1908)
    Gustav Mahler
    Austrian composer and conductor (1860-1911)
    Jules Emile Frederic Massenet
    French composer best remembered for his pop operas (1842-1912)
    Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
    German musician and romantic composer of orchestral and choral works (1809-1847)
    Gian Carlo Menotti
    United States composer (born in Italy) of operas (born in 1911)
    Jakob Liebmann Beer
    German composer of operas in a style that influenced Richard Wagner (1791-1864)
    Darius Milhaud
    French composer of works that combine jazz and polytonality and Brazilian music (1892-1974)
    Claudio Monteverdi
    Italian composer (1567-1643)
    Douglas Moore
    United States composer of works noted for their use of the American vernacular (1893-1969)
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    prolific Austrian composer and child prodigy; master of the classical style in all its forms of his time (1756-1791)
    Modest Petrovich Moussorgsky
    Russian composer of operas and orchestral works (1839-1881)
    Carl August Nielsen
    Danish composer (1865-1931)
    Jacques Offenbach
    French composer of many operettas and an opera (1819-1880)
    Roy Orbison
    United States composer and rockabilly tenor popular in the 1950s (1936-1988)
    Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
    Italian composer (1526-1594)
    Walter Piston
    United States neoclassical composer (1894-1976)
    Cole Albert Porter
    United States composer and lyricist of musical comedies (1891-1946)
    Francis Poulenc
    French pianist and composer (1899-1963)
    Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev
    Russian composer of ballets and symphonies and operas (1891-1953)
    Giacomo Puccini
    Italian operatic composer noted for the dramatic realism of his operas (1858-1924)
    Henry Purcell
    English organist at Westminster Abbey and composer of many theatrical pieces (1659-1695)
    Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff
    composer and piano virtuoso born in Russia (1873-1943)
    Jean-Philippe Rameau
    French composer of operas whose writings laid the foundation for the modern theory of harmony (1683-1764)
    Maurice Ravel
    French composer and exponent of Impressionism (1875-1937)
    Stephen Michael Reich
    United States composer (born in 1936)
    Ottorino Respighi
    Italian composer remembered for his symphonic poems (1879-1936)
    Nikolai Andreyevich Rimski-Korsakov
    Russian composer of operas and orchestral works; often used themes from folk music (1844-1908)
    Richard Rodgers
    United States composer of musical comedies (especially in collaboration with Oscar Hammerstein II and with Lorenz Hart) (1902-1979)
    Sigmund Romberg
    United States composer (born in Hungary) who composed operettas (1887-1951)
    Giloacchino Antonio Rossini
    Italian composer remembered for his operas (1792-1868)
    Anton Grigorevich Rubinstein
    Russian composer and pianist (1829-1894)
    Charles Camille Saint-Saens
    French pianist and composer (1835-1921)
    Erik Alfred Leslie Satie
    French composer noted for his experimentalism and rejection of Romanticism (1866-1925)
    Artur Schnabel
    United States composer (born in Austria) and pianist noted for his interpretations of the works of Mozart and Beethoven and Schubert (1882-1951)
    Arnold Schoenberg
    United States composer and musical theorist (born in Austria) who developed atonal composition (1874-1951)
    Franz Seraph Peter Schubert
    Austrian composer known for his compositions for voice and piano (1797-1828)
    Robert Alexander Schumann
    German romantic composer known for piano music and songs (1810-1856)
    Clara Josephine Schumann
    German pianist and composer of piano music; renowned for her interpretation of music, especially the music of her husband Robert Schumann (1819-1896)
    Aleksandr Nikolayevich Scriabin
    Russian composer of orchestral and piano music (1872-1915)
    Andres Segovia
    Spanish guitarist who made classical guitar a concert instrument (1893-1987)
    Roger Huntington Sessions
    United States composer who promoted 20th century music (1896-1985)
    Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich
    Russian composer best known for his fifteen symphonies (1906-1975)
    Johan Julius Christian Sibelius
    Finnish composer (1865-1957)
    Bedrich Smetana
    Czech composer (1824-1884)
    Stephen Sondheim
    United States composer of musicals (born in 1930)
    John Philip Sousa
    a United States bandmaster and composer of military marches (1854-1932)
    Strauss the Elder
    Austrian composer of waltzes (1804-1849)
    Strauss the Younger
    Austrian composer and son of Strauss the Elder; composed many famous waltzes and became known as the `waltz king' (1825-1899)
    Richard Strauss
    German composer of many operas; collaborated with librettist Hugo von Hoffmannsthal to produce several operas (1864-1949)
    Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky
    composer who was born in Russia but lived in the United States after 1939 (1882-1971)
    Arthur Seymour Sullivan
    English composer of operettas who collaborated with the librettist William Gilbert (1842-1900)
    Thomas Tallis
    English organist and composer of church and secular music; was granted a monopoly in music printing with William Byrd (1505-1585)
    Joseph Deems Taylor
    United States composer and music critic (1885-1966)
    Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky
    important Russian composer whose works are noted for their expressive melodies (1840-1893)
    Georg Philipp Telemann
    German baroque composer (1681-1767)
    Virgil Garnett Thomson
    United States composer who collaborated with Gertrude Stein (1896-1989)
    Edgar Varese
    United States composer (born in France) whose music combines dissonance with complex rhythms and the use of electronic techniques (1883-1965)
    Ralph Vaughan Williams
    English composer influenced by folk tunes and music of the Tudor period (1872-1958)
    Guiseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi
    Italian operatic composer (1813-1901)
    Heitor Villa-Lobos
    Brazilian composer (1887-1959)
    Antonio Lucio Vivaldi
    Italian baroque composer and violinist (1675-1741)
    Wilhelm Richard Wagner
    German composer of operas and inventor of the musical drama in which drama and spectacle and music are fused (1813-1883)
    Sir William Turner Walton
    English composer (1902-1983)
    Baron Karl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber
    German conductor and composer of romantic operas (1786-1826)
    Kurt Weill
    German composer; collaborated with Bertolt Brecht (1900-1950)
    Hugo Wolf
    Austrian composer (1860-1903)
    show 4 types...
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    a composer who specializes in counterpoint
    a composer of sacred songs
    ballad maker, songster, songwriter
    a composer of words or music for popular songs
    a composer of symphonies
    type of:
    artist who composes or conducts music as a profession
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