*MAJOR UPDATE IN PROGRESS* I’m revising this entire website, including LGBTQ+ Literature and Film. Thank you for understanding.

LGBTQ+ Classical and Musical Theater Composers

Introduction

LGBTQ+ composers have made immense contributions to classical music, in chamber and orchestral works, ballet, art songs, choral compositions, opera, and experimental pieces, as well as musical theater.

Some of the West’s most influential composers are identified as LGBTQ+, with a large number being bisexual. *PLEASE NOTE* Updated links coming soon: regrettably, the glbtq encyclopedia is no longer kept current online, but hundreds of its exceptional articles have been archived. It offered excellent introductory articles on LGBTQ+ composers of classical music, ballet, opera, and musical theater.

Many of the composers below were also renowned as soloists and conductors. To keep this list focused, I omit exceptional LGBTQ talents who were exclusively performers, including singers Lauritz Melchior, Pierre Bernac, Peter Pears; pianists Wanda Landowska, Vladimir Horowitz, Van Cliburn; and conductors Dimitri Mitropoulos, Thomas Schippers, Kay Gardner.

In the future, I also hope to highlight the many diverse LGBTQ+ popular musicians, who have enriched jazz, blues, folk, country, cabaret, rock, R&B, disco, punk, pop and more, including Joan Baez, David Bowie, Melissa Etheridge, Billie Holiday, Elton John, Janice Joplin, k.d. lang, Lou Reed, Bessie Smith, Pete Townshend. Wikipedia lists gay musicians, lesbian musicians, and bisexual musicians. As resources become available, I will include LGBTQ+ composers from Asia, Africa, and other regions.

* More LGBTQ+ Arts Resources: LGBTQ Cinema, LGBTQ Literature, LGBTQ Visual Artists, essay “Why an LGBTQ Focus?” Some of the composers here are also on my personal highest-recommended music list.

Updated September 2020 — for Music background articles (composers, musicians, musical theater, jazz, pop music & more), SEE glbtqarchive.com Arts Encyclopedia (articles download as PDFs).

Western LGBTQ+ Composers

  • Arne, Thomas Augustine (3/12/1710 – 3/5/1778 / UK)
  • Barber, Samuel (3/9/1910 – 1/23/1981 / US)
  • Beethoven, Ludwig van (12/15/1770 – 3/26/1827 / Germany)
  • Bellini, Vincenzo (11/3/1801 – 9/23/1835 / Italy)
  • Berners, Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt–Wilson, Baron (9/18/1883 – 4/19/1950 / UK)
  • Bernstein, Leonard (8/25/1918 – 10/14/1990 / US)
  • Blitzstein, Marc (3/2/1905 – 1/22/1964 / US)
  • Boulanger, Juliette Marie Olga Lili (8/21/1893 – 3/15/1918 / France)
  • Boulez, Pierre (3/26/1925 – / France)
  • Bowles, Paul (12/30/1910 – 11/18/1999 / US)
  • Brahms, Johannes (5/7/1833 – 4/3/1897 / Germany)
  • Britten, Lord Benjamin (11/22/1913 – 12/4/1976 / UK) – Britten resources
  • Busoni, Ferruccio Dante Michelangelo Benvenuto (4/01/1866 – 7/27/1924 / Italy)
  • Bussotti, Sylvano (10/1/1931 – / Italy)
  • Buxtehude, Dietrich (ca. 1637 – 5/9/1707 / Germany)
  • Caccini, Francesca (9/18/1587 – ca. 1645 / Italy)
  • Cage, John (9/5/1912 – 8/12/1992 / US)
  • Casulana, Madalena (ca. 1540 – ca. 1590 / Italy)
  • Chausson, Ernest (1/20/1855 – 6/10/1899 / France)
  • Chopin, Frederic (3/1/1810 – 10/17/1849 / Poland/France)
  • Copland, Aaron (11/14/1900 – 12/02/1990 / US)
  • Corigliano, John (2/16/1938 – / US)
  • Corelli, Arcangelo (2/17/1653 – 1/08/1713 / Italy)
  • Czerny, Carl (2/20/1791 – 7/15/1857 / Austria)
  • Davies, Sir Peter (Maxwell) (9/8/1934 – / UK)
  • Debussy, Achille-Claude (8/22/1862 – 3/25/1918 / France)
  • Delius, Frederick (Fritz) Theodor Albert (1/29/1862 – 6/10/1934 / UK)
  • Del Tredici, David (3/16/1937 – / US) D
  • Diamond, David (7/9/1915 – 6/13/2005 / US)
  • Dussek, Jan Ladislav (2/12/1760 – 3/20/1812 / Czechoslovakia)
  • Elgar, Edward (6/2/1857 – 2/23/1934 / UK)
  • Falla, Manuel de (11/23/1876 – 11/14/1946 / Spain)
  • Finn, William (2/28/52 – / US) Foster, Stephen Collins (7/4/1826 – 1/13/1864 / US)
  • Frederich the Great (1/24/1712 – 8/17/1786 / Germany)
  • Gershwin, George (9/26/1898 – 7/11/1937 / US)
  • Gombert, Nicholas (ca. 1495 – 1560 / Flanders/France)
  • Grainger, Percy Aldridge (7/8/1882 – 2/20/1961 / Australia)
  • Grieg, Edvard Hagerup (6/15/1843 – 9/4/1907 / Norway)
  • Griffes, Charles Tomlinson (9/17/1884 – 4/8/1920 / US)
  • Handel, George Frideric (2/23/1685 – 4/14/1759 / Germany/UK)
  • Harrison, Lou (5/14/1917 – 2/2/2003 / US)
  • Hahn, Reynaldo (8/09/1874 – 1/28/1947 / France)
  • Henze, Hans Werner (7/1/1926 – / Germany)
  • Herman, Jerry (7/10/1933 – / US)
  • Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179 / Germany)
  • LaChiusa, Michael John (7/24/1962 – / US)
  • Leonarda, Isabella (1620 – 1704 / Italy)
  • Loewe, Frederick (6/10/1901 – 2/14/1988 / US)
  • Mahler, Gustav (7/7/1860 – 05/18/1911 / Austria)
  • Menotti, Gian Carlo (7/7/1911 – 02/01/2007 / US)
  • Mussorgsky, Modest Petrovich (3/21/1839 – 3/28/1881 / Russia)
  • Porpora, Nicola Antonio (8/17/1686 – 3/03/1768 / Italy)
  • Porter, Cole (6/9/1891 – 10/15/64 / US)
  • Poulenc, Francis (1/7/1899 – 1/30/1963 / France)
  • Ravel, Joseph Maurice (3/7/1875 – 12/28/1937 / France)
  • Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai (3/18/1844 – 6/21/1908) / Russia)
  • Rorem, Ned (10/23/1923 – / US)
  • Rosenmüller, Johann (ca. 1619 – 9/10/1684 / Germany)
  • Saint-Saëns, Charles-Camille (10/9/1835 – 12/16/1921 / France)
  • Sapelnikov, Vassily [Wassily Sapellnikoff] (11/2/1867 – 3/17/1941)
  • Satie, Erik Alfred-Leslie (5/17/1866 – 7/1/1925 / France)
  • Schubert, Franz Peter (1/31/1797 – 11/19/1828 / Austria)
  • Smyth, Dame Ethel (4/23/1858 – 5/8/1944 / UK)
  • Sondheim, Stephen (3/22/1930 – / US)
  • Stravinsky, Igor (6/17/1882 – 4/06/1971 / Russia)
  • Strayhorn, Billy (11/29/1915 – 5/31/1967 / US)
  • Sullivan, Sir Arthur Seymour (5/13/1842 – 11/22/1900 / UK)
  • Szymanowski, Karol (10/6/1882 – 3/28/1937 / Poland)
  • Tavener, John (1/28/1944 – / UK)
  • Tchaikovsky, Piotr Ilyich (5/07/1840 – 11/6/1893 / Russia)
  • Thomson, Virgil (11/25/1897 – 9/30/1989 / US)
  • Tilson-Thomas, Michael (12/21/1944 – / US)
  • Tippett, Sir Michael Kemp (1/2/1905 – 1/8/1998 / UK)
  • Youmans, Vincent (9/27/1898 – 4/5/1946 / US)

Begun 1997 / Revised October 1, 2020

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