Top Ten most underrated composers.

September 5, 2004 at 05:05 AM · Who, in your opinion, rank as the top ten most underrated is my list:):) no particular order...

1. Ottorino Respighi- He wrote many things that aren't part of his famous Roman Festival/Pines of Rome/ Fountains of Rome trilogy.

2. Martinu- Some really wonderful chamber music was written by Martinu...particularly the string quartets

3. Alan Hovhanness- A really unique style and a huge compositional output

4. Khachaturian- Not just the violin concerto; his piano concerto and his second symphony is also really great.

5. Kodaly- some really beautiful choral music and an AMAZING serenade for two violins and viola, not to mention his suites and operas.

6. Darius Milhaud- wrote really wonderful sonatas, miniatures and concertos for the viola.

7. Carl Maria Von Weber- His Opera Overtures and his clarinet concertos and concertinos are great....Zoloft commercial anyone.

8. Paul Hindemith...ok I know I am a violist so how can I not mention Paul Hindemith....but still listen to Matrhis De Mahler or the Symphonic Metamorphisis....those pieces are great.

9. Schnittke- Wrote some really interesting modern works...especially his piano quartet and his duet for violin and cello. I really like his violin concerto, tooo

10. George Enescu- Wrote some really beautiful chamber music and his Rumanian Rhapsodies are wonderful. His Performing career got in the way fo his own composing, though.

Replies (100)

September 5, 2004 at 06:21 AM · Though a lot of people don't under-rate them, I would say that Beethoven, Mahler and Wagner are often misunderstood.

And Haydn is definitely under-rated.


September 5, 2004 at 12:27 PM · I agree with Khachaturian, also Grieg, I think, and Ysaye, Lalo, Faure, Krongold, etc

September 5, 2004 at 04:52 PM · I agree about Hovhanness. I've played a few pieces of his (and have heard many more). He's a very prolific composer, 100 symphonies or so...and they're GOOD!

I have to say Bruckner is extremely underrated.

September 5, 2004 at 09:01 PM · bazzini?? is he underrated??

September 6, 2004 at 12:23 AM · I agree with Hovhanness also. In 9th grade our orchestra played his Psalm and Fugue and it was really a nice piece. Agree with Haydn too. I also think Elgar is a bit underrated; he wrote so much good instrumental and orchestral music, like the Serenade for Strings.

September 6, 2004 at 01:26 AM · 1. Vaughan-Williams

2. Khachaturian

3. Walton

4. Elgar

5. Bartok

6. Orff (Carmina Burana is *that* powerful)

I guess I dont have 10, but these are in order. Vaughan Williams is my favorite composer.

September 6, 2004 at 02:10 AM · There are many, but Gerald Finzi and Gabriel Faure stand out as two especially neglected masters.

September 6, 2004 at 03:03 PM · Franck, Faure, Korngold, Goldmark, Barber, Martinu, Turina, Kodaly, Milhaud, Vaughan-Williams, Schnittke, Hindemith, Hovahness, Greig, Stravinsky, Bridge, Clark, Delius, Satie, Enescu...I guess I've exceeded 7 composers.

September 6, 2004 at 04:35 PM ·

September 6, 2004 at 03:52 PM · Bruch- He is only famed for his violin works. His symphonies and other orchestral works are often neglected.

September 6, 2004 at 04:08 PM · You mentioned Kodaly...ever heard his cello/piano, cello/violin works? Ahhh...

Milhaud wrote a piece for violin, clarinet and piano that rocks!!!! Babbit. Berg. Bennet (film composer, but his classical stuff is pretty good). Holst. Josquin des Prez. Lutaslawski. Prokofiev. Rossini. Zorn. That is the alphabetical list. I'd have to say if we are talking about underrated composers for real, though, we'd have to consider those who are pretty much anonymous or unknown in regards to non-western music. Indonesian music, for instance. Ethnic music. Ancient Chinese opera. Man, that stuff is really great to listen to! Oh, and we can't forget Judy Danaway...the virtuosic balloon player....


September 6, 2004 at 06:04 PM · i'd second hindemeth, his chamber music is really amazing.

its true about bruch, his violin works are so popular, but you rarely hear anything else besides, the concertos, kol nidri (sp?), and the scottish fantasy.

i dont even really consider bazzini a composer.

September 7, 2004 at 01:06 AM · ...also Shoenberg

September 7, 2004 at 03:13 PM · well, at least for the violin, heres my list (not in any particular order.

Bazzini-Fantastic showpieces

(ie. round of the goblins)

Novacek-Great showpieces

(ie. Perpetuum mobile)

Bruch- Great concertos

(ie. scottish fantasty)

Elgar- Wonderful encores

(ie. La Capricuese)

Bartok- Violin concertos

(ie. no. 1 is underated)

Ysaye- Show encores

(ie. Ballade, solo sonatas)

Korngold-Violin concertos

Definetly Bruckner, although not violin...

September 7, 2004 at 06:28 PM · here's mine,

1. Paganini (violin concerto no.1 in D)

2. Wieniawski (Violin Concerto No. 1 in F# minor)

3. Sibelius (violin concerto in d minor)

4. vieuxtemps (violin concerto nos. 4 & 5)

5. Kriesler (Praeludium and Allegro)

6. Bartok (I like violin concerto no. 2 better)

7. Elgar (nice pieces)

8. Nieslen (violin concerto)

9. Sarasate (ziguenerwiesen)

10. Chausson (poeme)

September 7, 2004 at 06:55 PM · I'll second Chausson.


September 7, 2004 at 08:04 PM · I am convinced of the great genius of Franz Schubert. Of course, he is a very famous composer, but I see Schubert as on the same level as Beethoven and Mozart. Unfortunately, Schubert died four years younger even than Mozart, and so he did not have the time to produce the volume of output of Beethoven and others. But Schubert wrote some of the world's most beautiful music.

September 7, 2004 at 11:32 PM · Greetings,

I agree . Interesting that when the Guarneri were asked to pick one work as an all time favorite/challenge they chose Schubert over Beethoven (see Blum@s book),



September 8, 2004 at 01:09 AM · Greetings,

as violnists I notice we are quite naturally slipping back nto describing violin works. Nothing wrong with that but for general underatedness I think Enescu comes high on th elist. The Naxos cd of his quintet, piano quartet is great. Recently I have become interedted in contemporary Asian composer andhave foundsome astonishing works. The obvious one is Takemitsu but I also recommend Takahashi Yuji. I will be performin his charming work for violin and paino `Parang Sae` (Bluebird) soon.Strong Xenakis influence although very mucha unique voice.

I also recently bought a CD entitled Japanese Orchstral Music just out of interets andone composer in partcular blew meaway.

Karen Tanaka is about 40 and living in Paris.Hermusic is available through Chester and the string quartet (espcially if yu are nterested in Glass type stuff with a bit of heavy metal thrown in) is really interesting,



September 8, 2004 at 02:20 AM · I don't have ten, but here are some I think are under-rated:

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Gustav Holst

Maurice Ravel (he wrote some amazing quartets)




September 9, 2004 at 12:15 PM · Saint-Saens. Most people only know his carnival of the animals, and danse macabre. He wrote heaps more than that and it's mostly great!

September 9, 2004 at 02:22 PM · Don't forget reger!

September 10, 2004 at 02:16 AM · ach saint-saens isnt underrated, people listen to him lots.

September 10, 2004 at 03:15 AM · Greetings,

NC I love Reger`s musicv. The Preludes and Fugues are a superb introduciton to the Bach unaccompanied sonatas. Well worth learnign at least one,



September 12, 2004 at 06:54 AM · My two cents:

(in no particular order)

George Enescu

CW Gluck

Rezso Kokai (chamber stuff)


Elgar (outside of the Enigma Variations)



Franz Biber

Ignaz Lachner


September 12, 2004 at 05:57 PM · Nick, what are you smoking? Those composers in the violinist's world are famous....

I have a few underrated composers in no order:











September 12, 2004 at 07:07 PM · Whether one think Saint Saens is underrated or not, underrated does not mean underplayed. I think he's a bit underrated.

Tchaikovsky is played all the time, I would hardly say he is overrated, however.

September 12, 2004 at 07:41 PM · Bazzini: String Quartet no.3

A piece with musical worth! How surprising!

September 12, 2004 at 09:03 PM · I agree about Saint-Saens; that thought crosses my mind whenever I listen to or play the Organ Symphony.

September 15, 2004 at 02:49 AM · Max Reger is A wonderful composer; He wrote some really beautiful solo suites for viola and three sonatas for viola.

I also beleive faure doesn't hold quite the renown he should. His music is soooo beautiful.

September 15, 2004 at 02:56 AM · personally I have never cared for Sain-Seans. His music is pretty and everything, but other than a select few pieces he's pretty superficial, and he didn't introduce new and origional things into music like other composers like Dvorak and Brahms did. Just my opinion:). I think that Scriabin is better personally. Ever heard his piano pieces??? wow....

Barber, Ives, Gershwin, and Duke elington are also pretty neglected.....they all have such origionality in their music in it just isn't as appreciated as it should be.

Bloch wrote some amazing string quartets. So did Arnold Bax.

Bruch wrote a really wonderful double concerto for viola and clarinet that deserves much much more attention than it gets; it's deffinantly right up there with his violin concerti.

September 15, 2004 at 05:52 AM · ives definetely

September 16, 2004 at 11:36 PM · William Walton and Henryk Gorecki.

September 17, 2004 at 12:47 AM · Svensen and Grieg.

September 17, 2004 at 07:47 PM · I love Reger!!!

I vote for Dohnányi and Szymanowski

September 27, 2004 at 04:13 PM · I'm new here, nevertheless, I have an opinion!

Dohnanyi's Serenade for String Trio is one of the most wonderful chamber pieces I have ever played, his string quartets are also amazing. I'm glad someone else mentioned him.

September 27, 2004 at 05:12 PM · Hummel, definitely.

Khachaturian absolutely.

Joseph Jongen.




Lalo (like his symphony).

September 27, 2004 at 07:48 PM · id add to what i wrote before the following...










September 27, 2004 at 11:42 PM · Greetings, Alex, your spelling is nearly as bad as mine. Good man!



September 28, 2004 at 12:47 AM · could I forget scriabin???

Ooo and how about Turina. I LOVE his chamber music.

September 28, 2004 at 12:51 AM · I also love Ysaye Alex...his music seems a bit pointlessly showoffy at first, but once you get past that he is a really great composer/ writer for the violin; his solo sonatas actually have quite a lot of depth to them.

October 3, 2004 at 12:01 AM · britten (as good as shostakovitch was in every way)

late stravinsky (such a shame he had to compete with himself)


charles ives (invented all of the 20th century styles for better or worse)

iannis xenakis

October 3, 2004 at 12:22 AM · lalo and jules massenet

October 4, 2004 at 08:42 AM · The post above's IP point to Moron South America.

But that is not much use, I suppose.

Is it possible to control so all posters have a valid E-mail pefore they are allowed to be members?

October 4, 2004 at 08:42 AM · far out...this person is so sad, don't wreck this board and get a bloody life, fricken loser...

October 4, 2004 at 05:47 PM · Scriabin is awesome and how about Busoni

October 4, 2004 at 05:54 PM · In no particular order:



Joseph Jongen

Xaver Scharvenka

Ignace Jan Paderewski

Niccolo Paganini

Hubert Parry

Hamilton Harty




Joaquin Rodrigo (love his violin Concerto!)




Oops, that's more than ten. Sorry. :)

December 6, 2004 at 10:47 PM · I wonder why Florent Schmittis played rarely.. Last summer I played his pianoquintet. It is absolutely marvelous!

Try and convince your historical idea about many other composers at his time

Maarten van Veen (Pianist, but learned the most from strings and singing)

December 6, 2004 at 11:55 PM · Dvorak



+ most of the composers who primarily composed for classical guitar


Fernando Sor

Napoleon Coste

Manuel Ponce

Dionisio Aguado

Francisco Tarrega

December 7, 2004 at 01:54 AM · Byrd


Britten (although I think he's been mentioned)


De Beriot


There was a documentary on UK telly the other night about Cole Porter, in an effort to prove that his skill as a composer rivalled that of many reputable classical ones.

December 7, 2004 at 02:06 AM · How about Stanford, Moeran, Dyson?

December 7, 2004 at 02:24 AM · Oops, I forgot to mention Boccherini.

And I second Villa-lobos

and also second (3rd, 4th whatever) on Hummel and Biber.

December 7, 2004 at 03:05 AM · Greetings,

I bought the Hummel piano trios on Cd recently. Wonderful music.



January 22, 2005 at 04:56 AM · I agree with the person who said Schubert. He was definitely up there with Beethoven. Pianists often realize this, but Schubert wrote less for us violinists. But he was still great, tragic, and beautiful, the last quartets are possibly the finest in the repertoire. It occurred to me that Schubert may be the one major composer who might be said to be under-recorded by violinists these days: the sonatinas are lovely and thoroughly deserving. Too bad he didn't write concerti, but maybe he would have, had he lived past 31. it always saddens me.

I would also add: Francois Couperin, JJ Froberger, Dittersdorf.

And Mendelssohn. This time us violinists know he was great, from the lyrical concerto, but often the others treat him as "minor" compared to the ostensibly more "serious," "deep", less "privileged" contemporaries. He is also sometimes not treated as a true romantic, despite living in the flower of that generation. I think Mendelssohn had a great melodic spontenaity, much like Schubert before him, and deserves the towering reputation accorded his contemporaries.

January 22, 2005 at 04:59 AM · Schumann gets a B and I think he deserves an A. And Clara should get a B instead of a C.

January 22, 2005 at 05:01 AM · I named my poodle after Clara Schumann. True story.

I agree, those Schumanns were great!

January 22, 2005 at 08:19 AM · Schönberg and Berg deserve more attention.


January 22, 2005 at 09:24 AM · The Pixies.

January 22, 2005 at 09:34 AM · This week I was given a double CD with hitherto heard of but unplayed/lost works by Jesus de Monasterio (1836-1903), much more famous as a player. Beautifully played by Jesus Reina, edited by local groups in order mark the composers 100th death anniversary. His violin concerto is impressive and I also liked the "Melody for an orchestra" and "Adios a la Alhambra". If you come across it, give it a hearing...

January 22, 2005 at 07:35 PM · Schubert: fashions change, 30 years ago few pianists would have comteplated a sonata cycle, only wise old men realised his greatness (ironically). Schubert is now fairly well recognized. Same for Verdi (i.e. the days of not taking him *seriously* are in the past).

Which brigs me on to another point. No opera composers mentioned in this thread (apart from Weber mentioned only for the overtures, and I suppose Berg). As I write an obscure Massenet opera, based on the Mahabarata, is playing on BBC Radio 3, bits of the music pretty good. Like the violin repetoire, opera has some really good music only known to afficionados. Perhaps many violinists don't really like opera? Odd, if true, as we hear so much about the importance of singing on the violin.

January 22, 2005 at 08:21 PM · In no particular order I have found some of these composers neglected or underrated in one way or another:











January 23, 2005 at 12:15 AM · Lately I'm starting to think Hindemith is underrated, as well as Elgar and Vaughan Williams...the Lark Ascending and Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis are both so supremely sublime!

January 23, 2005 at 01:14 AM · Hi Elizabeth, I fully agree that the Tallis Fantasia is one of the most sublime pieces of all time. I really like the VW early stuff that you mentioned but I am not so crazy about his symphonies. I forget who said that the Fantasia was like VW reaching back 400 years to shake hands with the Tudor master. If you like the Tallis Fantasia, I'd recommend a similar piece that had an influence on VW: Elgar's Introduction and Allegro for String Orchestra and String Quartet (the unusual chamber instrumentation and English nostalgia directly foreshadows the superior VW work.)

Tallis himself was a brilliant composer, and likewise composed one of the most beautiful pieces of all time, the soaring 40-part motet Spem in Alium.

January 23, 2005 at 03:08 AM · Is it just me, or does anyone else think there's quite a similarity of style between Vaughan Williams, Elgar, and Rutter? Perhaps it's an English thing?

I also absolutely adore Elgar's Sospiri. It's comparable to VW's Fantasia, though on a much smaller scale.

January 23, 2005 at 04:27 AM · Heres my list











January 23, 2005 at 04:32 AM · Willie, in what way are these composers underrated??

January 23, 2005 at 05:12 AM · LOL

January 23, 2005 at 07:50 AM · 1.Frank Zappa (knew zero about writing music and musictheory still he was in a class all by himself)

2.Astor Piazzolla (Did write tons of stuff and some of it is awesome)

3. Xenakis.(More important then most people think. After Stravinsky and Schönberg he was the most important during the 20:th century if you ask me)

4.Sweelink (Organcomposer who propably invented the fugue. Fantasia A 4 for oboe and organs was 200 years ahead of it´s time and an awesome piece.)

5.William Lawes (More then 100 years ahead of his time and used dissonces in a more original way then anyone else)

6. Samuel Barber (Wrote lots of great stuff)

7. Gubaidulina (Offertorium and other pieces shows that she may be the most original stringcomposer alive today)

8. Liszt (10 times as good and original composer as Paganini)

9. Penderecki (Not as wellknown as he should be)

10. John williams (Everybody remembers his melodies)

January 23, 2005 at 08:20 AM · Astor Piazzolla



Silvestre Revueltas


Zoltan Kodaly


I think that's it!


January 31, 2005 at 11:27 PM · dont forget Benedetto Marcello and Heinrich Schutz!

February 1, 2005 at 12:31 AM · Francis Poulenc

Ned Rorem

Marin Marais

Ellen Taafe Zwilich

Paul Hindemith

Morton Feldman

February 1, 2005 at 12:47 AM · I got a recording of a Milhaud sonota for two violins and piano that is wonderful. Think I'll order the sheet music. I don't know if Milhaud falls into the underrated category, but he is a composer I enjoy and don't listen to nearly enough.

February 1, 2005 at 04:36 AM ·

May 21, 2005 at 07:37 PM · I agree with everyone, and I especially like the enthusiasm for viola repertoire! Props to parmeeta bhogal for mentioning my boyfriend's CD...I am sure he will be very excited to see this post. He's doing more things with Jesus de Monasterio compositions later so you should all check it out!

May 21, 2005 at 08:05 PM · George Crumb?

May 21, 2005 at 08:10 PM · Myslivecek, without a doubt.


May 21, 2005 at 09:48 PM · Poulenc, Byrd, Elgar, Kodaly, Barber, Piazzolla, Gorecki, Dun, Part, Adams, Lou Harrison.

May 22, 2005 at 01:34 AM · Byrd was one of the greatest. Tallis also.

May 24, 2005 at 06:57 PM · I have to change my list a bit. The most underrated composer I know of has to be Buxtehude.

Bach got countless stuff from him.

May 25, 2005 at 01:29 AM · Jospeh White

Samuel Colderidge-Taylor

Basically all the composers of Rachel Barton-Pines Black composers Cd! They're GREAT!

(Sorry about the Tony the Tiger Moment...)

May 26, 2005 at 11:01 PM · Tartini's Devil's Trill sonata is superb. It reflects a kind of musical maturity, almost 20th century or Romaticism. Simply for that piece he is underrated.

May 26, 2005 at 11:22 PM · Stanford wrote some pretty interesting music.


May 26, 2005 at 11:32 PM · Samuel Coleridge-Taylor composed?

My list:

Antonio Salieri

hahahha just kidding, i just thought that was funny with the movie "Amadeus" and all...haha...oh...yeah

February 12, 2006 at 01:34 AM · The Renaissance composer, Gesualdo. His harmonies are amazing.

Judging just from his Suite in a, (-which probably isn't fair-) Sinding

Outside of our violinistic circles, Ysaye

Ernest Bloch

Outside of England, Purcell, Vaughn-Williams, and Elgar

Can the same composer be underrated and overrated at the same time? I have a problem rating Schubert. His finest songs and chamber works are sublime. But I feel that he wrote a good deal of far less than great music as well.

February 12, 2006 at 02:49 AM · John Williams is my favorite composer...he is often forgotten in the realm of "classical music"

February 12, 2006 at 03:13 AM · I'd certainly agree with Vaughn Williams. The more I listen to his work the more I appreciate the sublime beauty.

Here's an unlikely candidate, Beethoven. The next time someone writes or tells me that his work is loud and pompous I'll spit in their eye! However, it does at times seem to have become the popular conception of Beethoven's music. It's a conception made popular by people who obviously don't have a soul.


February 12, 2006 at 04:57 AM · I second Schubert. He promised Kubelik to write him a piece, but never got to it. What a shame for both of them to die so young!

I would also like to bring up Jakub Jan Ryba. His Christmas Mass is a wonderful alternative to Handel's Messiah, yet he is virtually unknown here in the US.


February 12, 2006 at 07:23 AM · is Schubert that underappreciated? I mean, symphony no.8 is pretty popular.

Ernst von Dohnanyi, Neilson, and this Italian I don't even know his name, and I can spell Dohnanyi. Veeerry underappreciated (if I find his name I'll put it up here :)

February 12, 2006 at 11:13 AM · Here's another "big" name who is underrated as a composer - Niccolo Paganini. His use of the Italian operatic form as a perfect setting for the violin, his use of the vocal qualities of the violin (even in rapid passages) as a kind of super-voice, and the effectiveness of his scoring, his ability to modulate and create a theatrical musical experience - all brilliant and quite beautiful. And the melodies he created - which we often deride as superficial and cheesy - would be popular and sung all of the time if they were operatic arias rather than tunes tucked away in a Paganini concerto.

February 12, 2006 at 04:50 PM · Is there any composer who HASN'T turned up on this list at some point? Hmmm . . . don't think I've seen Verdi or Prokofiev. Does that make them the only true masters?


February 13, 2006 at 12:46 AM · Verdi? Prokofiev? Who are they?

February 13, 2006 at 12:57 AM · I guess the most underrated composer would have the skill of Bach but not even his wife would know he composed.

February 13, 2006 at 02:51 AM · Yeh, my wife's tone deaf to.*


* Not really, but it's hard to let a line like Jim's go past.

February 13, 2006 at 03:03 AM · Joachim violin concerto- not a bad work.

Ysaye- anything. I like the works of Ysaye probably better than any other violinist-composer (Paganini, Sarasate, Kreisler, etc).

February 13, 2006 at 01:58 PM · Underrated?

Old german composers, Bach, Mozart. I hear they wrote some decent stuff for violin...

But seriously. No, actually, still joking.

P.D.Q. Bach has some great compositions.

February 13, 2006 at 06:14 PM · Without question, Johann Amadeus Tchaikovsky. His Violin Concerto - "Alle Suburbia" - is without doubt one of the most underrated 10-movement violin concertos ever written. In addition to full orchestra, the added modern instrumentation (V-8 engine, submarine submerging horn, and electric can opener) add a remarkably contemporary sound to the already rarely-used bagel-faced bugle and contra-piccolo. And let's not even talk about the writing for the solo violin (I mean, let's REALLY not even talk about the writing for the solo violin).

February 13, 2006 at 11:08 PM · I don'y think anyone has mentioned a couple of my favourites.

1) Guiseppe Martucci - fabulous piano concerti and symphonies.

2) Lyatoshinsky

3) Martinu

4) Howells

5) Miaskovsky

February 14, 2006 at 04:09 PM · Sander, is "Johann Amadeus Tchaikovsky" a pen name for P.D.Q. Bach?

February 14, 2006 at 04:47 PM · Well, to tell the truth, it is the product of my occasionally fertile imagination, but in spirit the inspiration of P.D.Q. Bach is everpresent.

Incidentally, I think that the most underrated problem in playing the violin (and one which I do not see addressed anywhere on this website, or anywhere else) is that there is no way to play the violin (well) and sneeze at the same time.

Hey, to actually be serious for a moment, I believe that there is only one recorded performance ever of the Virgil Thompson Cello Concerto (with Luigi Silva). I don't even know if it's been transferred to CD. But it is just beautiful. It's a traditional 3-movement work, using the American folk music idiom. It is a wonderful piece of music, not only underrated but (I'll bet) not even familiar to most everyone. Check it out.

December 23, 2016 at 03:11 PM · Liszt is only mentioned once above - I can't imagine that too many people on here can have heard the Faust Symphony.

Others I think underrated:

Giles Farnaby

Henry Purcell

Orlando Gibbons

Johann Strauss (who should have finished Schubert's Unfinished instead of Gerald Abraham, using the same material) and Sir Arthur Sullivan

Frank Martin



In a lecture at Warwick, Geoffrey Bush introduced us to something by Aram Katchaturian's nephew Karen. He's probably more underrated than his uncle.

I agree, too about Faure, Howells, Walton.

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