The 10 Greatest Musical Theater Composers You Should Know

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The world of musical theater is one which has produced a few of the most iconic and enduring tunes in historical past. From “Oklahoma!” and “West Facet Story” to “Les Miserables” and “The Sound of Music” these musicals have made their mark on Broadway, the West Finish, and all over the world.

However with so many composers on the market, the place do you begin? On this article, we’re going to introduce you to 10 of the best musical theater composers who have been behind all these catchy songs.

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1. George Gershwin

One of many best musical theater composers that each pupil of musical theater and patron is aware of is George Gershwin.

An American composer, Gershwin’s work coated classical and modern types.

Initially from Ukraine, Gershwin’s mother and father moved to New York earlier than their youngsters have been born are their Ukrainian-Jewish heritage knowledgeable a lot of George’s music.

He’s most identified for composing Broadway songs along with his brother Ira Gershwin and Buddy DeSylva and was closely influenced by jazz.

With songs like “I Bought Rhythm,” “They All Laughed” and “Summertime,” he has an in depth discography of labor that has outlined a era of music.

Right now, he’s well-known for his Broadway jazz, and his music has been used extensively on stage and in movie variations.

George Gershwin died in 1937 of a mind tumor, abandoning an unbelievable and lasting musical legacy.

2. Stephen Sondheim

Born right into a Jewish household in New York, Stephen Sondheim is an American composer and lyricist.

He had fairly a tumultuous childhood as his mother and father divorced when he was ten, and he hated his mom. As a substitute, he discovered mentorship with one other composer, Oscar Hammerstein II, and developed his love of musical theater.

Sondheim attended Williams School in Massachusetts, the place he studied composition. He then studied underneath Milton Babbitt and composed an adaptation of Beggar on a Horseback by George S. Kaufman, which had a restricted run.

Whereas not each endeavor discovered success, Sondheim persevered and created a reputation for himself alongside his mentor and buddies.

His checklist of well-known works contains A Humorous Factor Occurred on the Strategy to the Discussion board, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Road, Into the Woods, and West Facet Story which he wrote the lyrics to, amongst many others.

In 2014, he wrote a brand new music for the movie adaptation of Into the Woods, which didn’t make it into the movie however confirmed he was nonetheless a robust author.

3. Leonard Bernstein

Born in Massachusetts, Leonard Bernstein is one other Jewish-American composer who modified the world of musical theater.

As a toddler, his solely music was on the radio, however when he was 10-years-old, his sister delivered an upright piano, and the remaining was historical past with Bernstein instructing himself to play the piano regardless of his father’s lack of help.

Finally, his father realized that music was Bernstein’s future and took him to live shows the place they attended the Boston Pops Orchestra, which closely influenced Bernstein.

He was additionally considerably impacted by the composition of George Gershwin, who he noticed as a job mannequin.

Bernstein attended Harvard College and later the Curtis Institute of Music, the place he determined he needed to be a conductor.

In 1943, he made his conducting debut on the New York Philharmonic after the unique conductor caught the flu.

He labored with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, amongst others.

His musical theater composing credit embrace “West Facet Story”, “On the City” and Peter Pan amongst others.

He labored an extended and intensive profession till his retirement in 1990 the place he died of a coronary heart assault.

4. Andrew Lloyd Webber

Well-known British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber was born in Kensington, London, and his title is synonymous with Broadway’s musical theater.

He started composing music at age 9 and placed on performances along with his family and friends.

At 17-years-old, Lloyd Webber met Tim Rice, with whom he would collaborate on many performs, together with Joseph and the Wonderful Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Likes of Us, and Evita.

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In 1986, maybe his most well-known play debuted: The Phantom of the Opera.

Primarily based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera has been carried out in theaters worldwide and has seen a number of movie variations.

In 2001, the New York Occasions known as Andrew Lloyd Webber “essentially the most commercially profitable composer of all time.”

His performs have held the longest-running titles, and plenty of have been made into movies as effectively.

He’s nonetheless actively composing and plans to open Cinderella in London in 2021.

5. Richard Rodgers

An American composer with 23 Broadway musicals and over 900 songs in his pocket, Richard Rodgers was born right into a Jewish household in Queens, NY.

He started enjoying the piano at six years previous and wrote many songs whereas at summer time camp.

In 1919, he partnered with Lorenz Hart, writing such songs as “My Humorous Valentine,” “The Woman is a Tramp,” and “Wait Til You See Her.”

When Hart died in 1943, Rodgers discovered himself partnered with Oscar Hammerstein II.

Rodgers and Hammerstein turned unstoppable, with hits like The Sound of Music, The King and I, and Cinderella, which turned movie or TV variations.

Rodgers continued composing till his loss of life, having acquired the Lawrence Langner Memorial Award for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement within the American Theatre.

6. Irving Berlin

One of many best composers of all time, Irving Berlin wrote nearly 1,500 songs for 20 Broadway performs and 15 Hollywood movies.

Remembered extra as a poet, Irving Berlin was born within the Russian Empire to a Jewish household and 5 years later, his household immigrated to New York.

His father died when he was 13, and Berlin took on delivering newspapers to assist his mom and alongside his route, he found the thrill of music.

At 14, he dropped out of faculty and shortly realized that his solely marketable ability was his voice.

He taught himself piano and continued to sing in saloons till 1909 when he took a job with the Ted Snyder Firm as a lyricist.

He based the Music Field Theater on Broadway, which was unbelievable contemplating that he couldn’t even learn sheet music for many of his life.

A few of his most well-known songs embrace “White Christmas,” “Something You Can Do (I Can Do Higher),” “Blue Skies,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” and “I’ve Bought My Like to Preserve Me Heat.”

He lived a really lengthy life finally passing away on the age of 101 in 1989.

7. Cole Porter

Subsequent, now we have Cole Porter who was born in Indiana and was the one surviving baby in his household.

His grandfather had wished for him to grow to be a lawyer, however Porter was drawn to musical theater as a substitute.

His mom inspired his musical desires and he realized the violin when he was six, the piano at eight, and wrote his first operetta when he was ten.

Though his mom helped him write his first operetta she additionally falsified his beginning certificates, so it appeared he was extra of a prodigy than he was.

He attended Worcester Academy, the place he made buddies and shortly discovered that entertaining got here naturally.

He moved to Paris in 1917 when the US entered WW1 and stayed there after throwing lavish events and learning orchestration.

Upon his return to America, he returned to Broadway along with his first full musical in 1928 titled Paris.

Then, by the Nineteen Thirties he was a vastly common broadway composer with musicals akin to “Something Goes,” “Excessive Society” and “Kiss Me, Kate.”

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Porter sadly was in a using accident in 1937 which finally led to him having his leg amputated.

He launched yet another hit “Can-Can,” in 1953 however finally died in 1964 on the age of 73.

8. Elton John

Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in Pinner, England, fewer trendy composers have extra stage presence than Sir Elton John along with his expertise being onerous to comprise from an early age.

At age 15, he turned a pianist in a neighborhood pub, the place he started performing his personal music and by 1967, he answered an advert to compose music for Liberty Information.

They gave him an envelope of lyrics written by Bernie Taupin, who had responded to the identical advert.

From there, Elton John and Bernie Taupin launched a decades-long musical partnership.

In addition to a vastly profitable pop profession, he has composed the music for quite a few musical theater productions together with The Lion King (1997), Aida (2000), Lestat (2006), and Billy Elliot the Musical (2008).

With awards from Grammys, Tonys, and Academy Awards, Elton John’s opulent profession had spanned greater than 50 years earlier than he introduced his last tour in 2020.

9. Oscar Hammerstein II

Holding eight Tony Awards and two Academy Awards, Oscar Hammerstein II is among the most well-recognized musical theater lyricists of all time.

Vocalists use his songs for auditions and performances due to their magnificence and lyrical jazz.

Born in New York, Hammerstein’s mother and father have been each concerned within the theater, introducing him to the stage early.

He tried legislation college, however the name of the theater impressed him to drop out, returning to open his first Broadway play in 1920.

His lengthy collaboration with composer Richard Rodgers led to the well-known “Rodgers and Hammerstein” names in Broadway lights for a few years.

A few of his well-known musicals embrace “Oklahoma!” “Carousel,” “South Pacific,” “Cinderella” and “The Sound of Music.”

He was an advocate for author’s rights on Broadway and was president of the Dramatists Guild of America till his loss of life in 1960.

The York Theater Firm of New York Metropolis affords an Oscar Hammerstein Award, a Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theater award every year.

10. Jeanine Tesori

Jeanine Tesori is an American composer who has written 5 Broadway musicals and has earned 5 Tony Award nominations.

In 1995, she debuted as a dance music arranger for How one can Achieve Enterprise With out Actually Making an attempt.

She acquired accolades for her subsequent work Violet, which ran off-Broadway however earned her an Obie award in addition to a number of others.

In 2000, she wrote new songs for an replace of Completely Fashionable Millie with Dick Scanlan. This collaboration led to her first Tony Award nomination.

Shrek: The Musical debuted in 2008 and earned her one other Tony nomination.

Tesori composed music for the movies Nights in Rodanthe, The Lack of a Teardrop Diamond, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Starting, Shrek the Third, Mulan II, and The Emperor’s New Groove II: Kronk’s New Groove.

Jeanine Tesori’s opera Blue, which addresses the problems of police brutality with younger black males, debuted in 2019 on the Glimmerglass Competition in New York.

Summing up our Record of Well-known Musical Theatre Composers

That wraps up our article on essentially the most well-known musical theater composers of all time and we hope it’s helped to place a face to the wonderful music that you realize and love.

Whether or not you’re a die-hard fan of Broadway, or identical to to sing alongside along with your favourite musicals occasionally, it’s essential that we acknowledge and honor the legacy left behind by a few of the world’s most proficient composers.

Probably the greatest methods to take pleasure in these composers’ work is by watching their performs or musicals so go guide some tickets and luxuriate in.

There are tons extra composers we’ve not included on this checklist however we’ll be updating it so tell us who you suppose we should always add.

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