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Top 10 Young Composers Who Are Redefining Classical Music

The Culture Trip

By Helen Armitage

January 2016


While the great composers like Bach and Beethoven may still reign supreme in classical music circles, a generation of new young composers are challenging its traditional boundaries. From the haunting ‘indie-classical’ sounds of Missy Mazzoli to Judd Greenstein’s post-genre adventures, we profile 10 innovative young composers bringing new life to classical music.


Missy Mazzoli

Hailed by The New York Times as one of the ‘more consistently inventive and surprising composers now working in New York’, Missy Mazzoli is an American composer and keyboardist based in Brooklyn whose works straddle the line between classical and indie with a haunting, innovative sound…..

Dobrinka Tabakova

…… She has been hailed by esteemed composer John Adams as ‘extremely original and rare’.

Tabakova’s works have been described as ‘thoughtful and approachable’ by Gramophone Magazine with a sound that is at once both familiar and new….

Cheryl Frances-Hoad

British composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad won the ‘BBC Young Composer’ Competition in 1996 at 15 years old. Now a seasoned chamber composer, Frances-Hoad’s works have been performed at preeminent chamber music venues….

Ann Cleare

….Known for pushing the boundaries of what constitutes contemporary classical music….

Angélica Negrón

….Invested in creating a sound that is at once both intricate but simple, traditional and progressive…..

…. melds……, conventional chamber instruments with new instruments …..

Nico Muhly

…… is the darling of the contemporary classical music circles with BBC Music describing his sound as ‘youthful, no-rules classical, full of cross-genre inventiveness’. An accomplished composer working across chamber and orchestral music, ballet and opera …..

Daníel Bjarnason

….. The release of his debut album ….. established him in the international classical music scene, and the album was praised by Time Out NY as, ‘eerily close to defining classical music’s undefinable brave new world’…..

Judd Greenstein

…... His music remains wholly open to many different influences – reflected in the diverse bodies that have commissioned his work and range from the experimental NOW Ensemble, to more traditional bodies like the North Carolina Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra….

Thomas Adès

….. one of the most revered composers of his generation….

…At the tender age of 25, Adès wrote his first opera….This project drew upon various musical styles including early 20th century classical and cabaret. The opera has been hailed as a modern classic, and his work has been performed worldwide at venues including London’s Royal Opera House and New York’s Metropolitan Opera House.

Mason Bates

Regularly hailed as one of the contemporary classical music world’s most innovative composers,

…… In 2012 he became one of the youngest recipients to be awarded a Heinz Medal, with founder Teresa Heinz stating that Bates’ music has ‘moved the orchestra into the digital age and dissolved the boundaries of classical music’.

….. Bates’ works have been performed by orchestras including the San Francisco Symphony and the London Symphony.


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