4 Composers That Will Actually Make You Like Classical Music

I grew up in a very musical house. My father always played records when he came home from work, and my mother always sang songs to me and made me sing them back to her until I could get the words right. I was instilled with a love of music from a young age and took that love of music into my adulthood with a passion for classical music.  

For people of the millennial generation, classical music is often just a fancy outlet to get dressed up and take a date to the symphony to try and look cultured. When millennials think of classical music, their minds often shoot to dead men in powdered wigs performing for the old European royalty. Classical music does not have to be a Yuppie outlet for a night out on the town, but can really evolve into a form of music that brings out the best of us productively while at the same time fueling creativity and inner tranquility.

Without further ado, check out four classical composers that people of the millennial generation should totally dig.   

1. Gustav Holst

This English composer, arranger, and teacher is best known for his WWI era orchestral suite "The Planets." First performed in September of 1918, this extremely popular orchestral suite is named for each of the discovered planets (when the piece was written sans Earth) and the appropriate ancient Greek or Roman deity the planet takes its name from. The most celebrated movements from "The Planets" is certainly Mars and Jupiter, but Holst, the king of composing haunting, eerie melodies, demonstrated techniques years of ahead of his time in movements named Venus, and my personal favorite — Neptune— which features an offstage women's chorus and is the most celestial sounding of the whole work. 

Aside from "The Planets," Holst is well-known for his often performed military suites, and folk song settings that were common during the first decades of the 20th century. 



2. Percy Grainger

Australian-American composer Percy Grainger is known for his adaptations of English, Australian, and American folk song adaptations, championing of Nordic culture, virtuosity at the piano, and in his later years, work in music education.

Grainger's pieces often feature very poignant melodies that are still widely performed by bands and orchestras at every level and are very accessible and easy on the ears. Some of his more popular pieces are "Colonial Song," "Irish Tune From County Derry," "Country Gardens," and "Molly on the Shore." 

3. Eric Whitacre

43-year-old American composer Eric Whitacre has taken the classical music scene by storm since the release of his 2008 all-choral album Cloudburst.

Known for his many choral works, leading the YouTube "virtual choir," band settings, TED talks, and collaborating with academy award-winning composer Hans Zimmer during the mermaid scenes in the fourth installment of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Check out Whitacre's adaptation of the popular children's story Goodnight Moon. 

4. George Gershwin

One of America's most beloved composers, Gershwin bridges the gap between genres. He often collaborated with his brother Ira in songwriting. A Tin-Pan Alley songwriter who wrote popular songs which often were compiled into Broadway musicals, Gershwin is most known for "Rhapsody in Blue" which combines elements of the blues and classical music into one piece of music. The opening clarinet trill is easily one of the most famous and easily recognized excerpts in all of classical music. 

Other famous Gershwin pieces include "An American in Paris" and his Piano Concerto in F.