This section contains information, facts, and worksheets on famous musicians and composers through history.
Whether it’s for celebrations, mourning, entertainment, religion, political protest, romance or comfort, humans have had music. Music is so intrinsic to the human experience that hearing it has a marked influence on brainwaves, brain activity and brain chemistry in ways that other modes of communication don’t. In other words, music moves people in powerful ways.
Evolving from primitive tribal instruments to the most sophisticated, even digital, instruments today, musicians have been using music to spread messages and express the whole spectrum of human emotions.
Some notable musicians through time include the classical geniuses Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Considered the ‘father of harmony’, Bach’s music may seem very old-fashioned to you, but at the time his patrons criticized his work as being far too radical and controversial. His legacy in compositional techniques, even centuries later, remains unrivaled.
Mozart, a musical prodigy in his own right, was influenced by and learned a lot from Bach, and what followed was a career in music considered the ‘pop music’ of the time, even though it was difficult to understand and very difficult to perform.
What’s remarkable about musicians and their music through time is their ability to challenge listeners and shape popular culture by rebelling against the status quo. Elvis Presley (1935-1977) built a career in music that made him the ‘king of rock ‘n roll’ by controversially bringing the sound of African-American music to mainstream America. As scandalous as his dance moves, Presley’s music pioneered the genres of rockabilly, uptempo, and fusion of country and rhythm and blues.
Bob Dylan (1941-), an American folk singer-songwriter became the voice of a generation during the '60s and '70s when the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movement were reaching their peak. His melodies and lyrics expressed the frustrations and hopes of millions of people and are still relevant today.
Similarly, the ‘king of pop’, Michael Jackson (1958-2009), shaped not just a generation but became one of the most popular and best-selling musicians in the world through his ability to tap the universal nature of music to bring people together. The lyrics and melodies of his songs captured audiences’ attention, but combined with his remarkable performances and dance moves, he was launched into superstardom.
With the passage of time, we’ve seen the evolution of music into genres like Classical, Rock, Punk, Pop, Metal, Opera, Gospel, R&B, Hip Hop, Alternative, Indie, Folk, Disco, House and many more. Within each genre, there are notable musicians who have altered ours and our society’s consciousness and, like us, it keeps evolving. Learn more about these great musicians and more in this section.