Composer Corner

Ludwig Van Beethoven
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Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany. His father, who was a singer, was his first teacher. After a while, even though he was still only a boy, Ludwig became a traveling performer, and soon, he was supporting his family. 

In his early twenties, Beethoven moved to Vienna, where he spent the rest of his life. Beethoven was one of the first composers to make a living without being employed by the church or a member of the nobility. At first, he was known as a brilliant pianist. But when he was around 30 years old, Beethoven started going deaf. Even though he could no longer hear well enough to play the piano, Beethoven composed some of his best music after he was deaf! 

Beethoven is considered one of the greatest musical geniuses who ever lived. He may be most famous for his nine symphonies, but he also wrote many other kinds of music: chamber and choral music, piano music and string quartets, and an opera.


Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach

March 21, 1685 - July 28, 1750 
Baroque Period

Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany, where his father was a town musician. Bach came from a long line of composers - over 300 years' worth of Bachs all worked as professional musicians. By the time Johann was 10, both his parents had died, so he was brought up by his older brother, who was a church organist. Johann became a very good organist, too. 

Johann Sebastian Bach held three major jobs in his life: first he worked for a duke, then for a prince, and finally, he became director of music at the St. Thomas Church and School in Leipzig, Germany. Even though his job in Leipzig kept him very busy, in his spare time, Bach conducted a group of musicians who liked to get together to perform at a local coffee house. 

During his lifetime, people thought of Bach as just an ordinary working musician. No one really knew much about his music until 100 years after his death, when another composer, Felix Mendelssohn, conducted a performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion.

Bach is now seen as one of the greatest geniuses in music history. He wrote all kinds of music -- for organ and other keyboard instruments, orchestras, choirs, and concertos for many different instrumental combinations.


Camille Saint-Saens
October 9, 1835 - December 16, 1921 
Romantic Period

Like Mozart, Camille Saint-Saëns was a child prodigy. At 2 ½ he could pick out tunes on the piano; at the age of 3 he composed his first piece; and by 7 he was giving public concerts as a pianist and organist. When he was 10, he made his public debut and offered to play any one of Beethoven’s 32 sonatas from memory. He had total recall of anything he had ever read. 

Saint-Saëns was also a conductor, critic, music scholar, teacher and composer. Working in Paris, he founded a society that supported an entire new generation of French composers. Despite these talents, he never quite lived up to expectations. While he composed operas, none were very popular. His style of music was traditional and conservative and for the most part followed Classical traditions. His best-known works are several concertos, an organ symphony and The Carnival of the Animals.



Jerod-0256.jpg   Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate (1968 - present)
Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate was born in 1968 in Norman, Oklahoma and is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.  Mr. Tate is dedicated to the development of American Indian classical composition, and a recent review by The Washington Post states that “Tate’s connection to nature and the human experience was quite apparent in this piece…rarer still is his ability to effectively infuse classical music with American Indian nationalism.”  This review was a response to a recent performance of Iholba (The Vision), for Solo Flute, Orchestra and Chorus, which was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra and premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.