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A composer is a musician who creates musical compositions. Typically, composers work on a professional basis. In other words, they are paid for the music that they create. Most commonly associated with inventing classical music, composers may actually work in any genre. It is also possible to work as an amateur composer (and to give music away for free to anyone that wants to use it, if so desired).

History of Composers

In prior centuries, Europe’s classical music circles featured composers whose role was on a par with the roles of the musicians who actually played their compositions. In other words, the composer did not enjoy an elevated status in these circles.

In addition, preserving the integrity of musical compositions wasn’t really a priority at this stage. In fact, frequent modifications to compositions were made by those who played the music, and no one was particularly distressed by these alterations.

However, as classical music in European regions evolved over time, more weight and importance was given to the role of the composer and to preserving the individual qualities and properties of certain compositions. However, the interpretation of compositions was generally the province of musicians alone.

For example, musicians might choose to experiment with tempos and loud and soft tones, in order to express particular pieces of music as they saw fit. Typically, soloists would strive to express their own analyses of compositions via musical interludes known as cadenzas.

Most compositions would feature notations, in the form of musical symbols, in order to denote tempo shifts and loud and soft tone recommendations. In terms of music, loud is expressed by the symbol for forte, while soft is represented by the symbol for piano.

Role of Composers in the Western World

In the Western world, the role of a composer is not always linked with the composition of classical music. For example, certain other genres of music, including jazz and experimental music, are often created by Western world composers. In certain instances, the line between composer, musician, sound designer, arranger and producer is blurred. In other words, composers may wear many different hats.

When pop or folk music is invented by composers of this type, they often earn a different moniker: songwriter.

Understand Composer Clustering

Celebrated composers have a tendency to congregate in certain cities of the world. This trend is historical, and it’s known as clustering. Particular cities attract composer types, including Paris, London, Rome, Berlin and New York. Paris is known for attracting the most composers throughout all eras. Currently, New York City is a hotbed for composers.

While Europe has always been considered the apex, in terms of being a superior meeting place (and place of residence) for composers, the advent of the digital age is making it much easier for composers to live wherever they wish and to share their musical creations with others via the Internet. However, in terms of real-life fellowship between composers, Europe and New York still offer the most benefits.

Famous Composers throughout History

Certain classic composers, such as Mozart, whose talent continues to inspire today, rank most highly in terms of fame. Other examples of famous composers include Hadyn, Beethoven and Bach. All of these composers created classical music and often played it as well. In particular, Mozart displayed almost-unparalleled mastery as a musician, in addition to his superlative composing skills. Still more famous composers from bygone centuries include Haydn, Schubert, Stravinsky and Debussy.
In the modern age, in the Western World, certain composers who created music in other genres have received significant acclaim. One example is George Gershwin, whose work spanned classic and popular genres.