Famous Composers

Famous Composers Tell the Story of Their Lives In Music

Biographies of our famous composers are told in first-person as if they returned from the afterlife to tell us their life stories.


We write the biographies using credible, multiple sources so that they may be as accurate as possible. Note: When we quote the composer's exact words (in the guise of the composer speaking), we use quotation marks around those particular words.


We hope you will find this first-person format may give you a fresh perspective, and a warmer connection to your favorite composers.


Richard J. Chandler, MA, Composer & Editor for LeadingMusicians.com

Composer Bela Bartok Sitting at Grand Piano

Bela Bartok, Composer

Bela Bartok: Composer, Pianist, Musicologist & Piano Teacher This biography of Bela Bartok is told in the first person as if Bartok returned from the afterlife to tell us the story of his life. Along with the help of the British writer, Aly Locatelli, I wrote this biography using multiple sources so it may be …

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Photograph of Bizet's Les_pêcheurs_de_perles Scene from act II of the opera

Georges Bizet, Composer

Early Life and Family I was born in Paris on 25 October 1838, and was originally registered as Alexandre César Léopold. I was baptised ‘Georges’ on March 16, 1840, a name gifted to me by my godfather which stuck better than my original name. My father had been a hairdresser and wigmaker, but turned to …

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photograph of Claude Debussy playing piano while others watch on

Claude Debussy, Composer

Claude Debussy, Composer Claude Debussy is perhaps the most influential French composer in western music. His influence was prominently felt for composers who were contemporaries and in the decades to follow. Debussy’s music continues to be influential in our time for 21st century composers. Musicians and audiences alike are swept away by the beauty, color …

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Photograph of Edvard Grieg and his wife with Grieg playing piano and his wife sitting next to him

Edvard Grieg, Composer

Early Childhood and Musical Inclination I was born in Bergen, Norway, in June, 1843. My family was rather musically inclined, with my mother being a music teacher and the daughter of Edvard Hagerup, for whom I was named after. My father worked as a merchant and consul in Bergen, but he, too, enjoyed music although …

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Painting of composer Liszt playing piano while friends watch

Franz Liszt, Composer

Early Life: A Prodigy is Born I was born on October 22, 1811, in Raiding, Hungary, to a loving family. My father, Adam Liszt, was an amateur musician who played many instruments, including the piano, violin, cello, and guitar. It was he who taught me how to play the piano, and it was he who …

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Photograph of Maurice Ravel sitting next to a piano

Maurice Ravel, Composer

Growing Up and the Beginning of a Musical Life  I was born March 8, 1875, in the Basque town of Ciboure in France, near Biarritz,  into a talented family. My father, Pierre-Joseph Ravel, was a clever engineer and manufacturer and while my mother did not work, his fruitful career provided for us all. Their marriage …

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Photograph of Camille Saint Saëns playing piano while others watch

Camille Saint-Saëns, Composer

Early Life: A Young Prodigy  I was born in Paris on October 9, 1835. From a very young age, I displayed inordinate musical talent, debuting at only ten years old at the Salle Pleyel in Paris.   My father died of consumption [tuberculosis] when I was very young, and I was sent away to live with …

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