If by any chance you ask someone about a famous music composer, you are highly likely to get names from the past, such as Beethoven or Mozart. This, however, does not mean that there is a shortage of composers today. There are new and brilliant composers who write inspiring music today across the world. Notably, the role played by composers has evolved considerably over the years. Below is a highlight of how the functions of a music composer have changed with time.
The Artist, 17th and 18th Century
A majority of classical composers in the past were employees of either the church, wealthy aristocrats, or monarchs. As much as the composer’s work was to create music, they had limited control of what they could write. The music which they wrote had to match the tastes of their employers. During the late 18th century, society began to change. Composers at that time were now seeking independent careers as they promoted and sold their published work. There was still some form of patronage, but the composers at that time enjoyed a lot more creative control. It is when composers began to get recognition for their work.
The Celebrity, 18th and 19th Century
The reputation of composers grew during the late 18th century and the 19th century. A good number of composers became so famous that they could even participate in international concert tours. A good example is Franz Liszt, who became so popular that fans from far and wide used the term Lisztomania to associate themselves with his music.
The Opportunist, 19th and 20th Century
The opportunities for composers were getting more diverse during the late 19th century and the 20th century. It is during this era that radio arrived and offered new opportunities for composers to meet this new demand, and later the cinemas. Some composers also found positions in conservatories and universities. Independent sources such as foundations, trusts, and public bodies began to offer more commissions. The fact that this generation of composers enjoyed better financial security meant they enjoyed a higher level of flexibility.
The Radical, Late 20th Century
During the late 20th century, composers were using more experimental methods. Music also became increasingly marginalised to a more academic audience. There were significant contradictions on views regarding the direction in which modern music was headed. It is still at that time that composers diversified their talents. Different composers were now flourishing in various musical fields.
It is at this time that a composer’s life is the most varied. Music is being composed for theatre, opera, television, radio, video games, education, art installations, and advertising, among many others. Besides writing, the work of the composer also includes conducting, orchestration, and performing, among other musical tasks.