Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer-Plus (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. Regrettably, the glbtq encyclopedia is no longer kept current online, but hundreds of its exceptional articles have been archived.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. Wikipedia also offers a list of LGBT classical composers.

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.

There are also many 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 LGBT composers, gay musicians, lesbian musicians, and bisexual musicians. As resources become available, I will include global LGBTQ+ composers, from Asia, Africa, and other regions.

PLEASE NOTE that all images are solely for educational, non-profit use.

* More LGBTQ+ Arts Resources

LGBTQ+ Literature, LGBTQ+ Film, LGBTQ+ Visual Arts. Essay “Why a LGBTQ+ Focus?” Also, my Brief Guide to Film and Filmmaking includes a section on sound, that could also be applied to works of music.

* Music background articles (composers, musicians, musical theater, jazz, pop music, more), SEE glbtqarchive.com Arts Encyclopedia (articles download as PDFs).

GLOBAL TRADITIONS: While this site focuses largely on Western works, I value other cultures’ LGBTQ+ artistic heritages. As they become accessible in English, I look forward to exploring the additional worlds that they hold. As a global community, standing upon millennia of history and resilience, the future of LGBTQ+ arts is diverse and bright.

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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
LGBTQ+ Composers
LGBTQ+ Composers

Begun 1997 / Updated November 7, 2021

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