List of contemporary artists you should know about

This week, we’re sharing a list of contemporary artists that are alive and prominent. Take note, this list of composers doesn’t include any recently deceased ones. These will get their own blog post in the period that follows, especially if they are still considered very important and influential.

However, there is something else we should clarify first. Before we list the contemporary artists of today and their respective styles, let’s write a word or two about each style for the sole purpose of orientation. Also, bear in mind that it’s difficult to determine the exact style for a good portion of the composers. At the same time, there are those whose style is pretty clear.

Just bear with me and let me know if you believe any of the composers should be listed in another style.

  • Avant-Garde – expanding the boundaries of what can be called music and employing extended playing techniques and original sounds.
  • Eclectic – mixing different music styles in one piece. It also includes composers who have mixed various styles over their illustrious career.
  • Instrumental Musique Concrète – refers to instruments being treated as sound objects rather than traditional playing techniques.
  • Minimalism – repetitive and process based music.  If you want to learn more about it, read this article.
  • Modernism – music with a modern character as opposed to classical. It still features similar styles of expression, though.
  • Neo-Impressionism – music primarily focused on creating a certain atmosphere rather than detailed, complex music and musical form.
  • Notated Improvisation – improvisations that have been notated and sometimes altered.
  • Postmodernism – music in reaction to modernism. Often poly-stylistic.
  • Postminimalism – music influenced by minimalism, but trying to go beyond regular minimalism.
  • Religious – not so much of a style, but a type of music. Naturally, it features extensive use of the choir.
  • Serialism – the use of formalized music in every aspect in terms of series of notes, pitches, etc.
  • Spectral – music based on computer generated analysis of acoustic timbres or electronic timbres.
  • Traditional – sounds like something you have heard before in classical music. Not to be confused with folk music.

And now, without further ado, here’s the list of contemporary artists in alphabetical order.

  1. John Adams (b.1947) – Minimalism, Postminimalism
  2. Thomas Adès (b.1971) – Eclectic, Modernism
  3. Louis Andriessen (b.1939) – Eclectic, Minimalism
  4. Harrison Birtwistle (b.1934) – Eclectic, Modernism
  5. Gavin Bryars (b.1943) – Eclectic, Minimalism
  6. Unsuk Chin (b.1961) – Modernism
  7. George Crumb (b.1929) – Avant-Garde
  8. Chaya Czernowin (b.1957) – Avant-Garde
  9. Brett Dean (b.1961) – Modernism
  10. Péter Eötvös (b.1944) – Eclectic
  11. Luca Francesconi (b.1956) – Avant-Garde
  12. Philip Glass (b.1937) – Minimalism
  13. Sofia Gubaidulina (b.1931) – Serialism, Notated Improvisation
  14. György Kurtág (b.1926) – Modernism, Miniatures
  15. Helmut Lachenmann (b.1935) – Avant-Garde, Instrumental Musique Concrète
  16. Magnus Lindberg (b.1958) – Eclectic, Modernism
  17. James MacMillan (b.1959) – Modernism
  18. Tristan Murail (b.1947) – Spectral
  19. Thea Musgrave (b.1928) – Postmodernism, Traditional
  20. Olga Neuwirth (b.1968) – Avant-Garde
  21. Michael Nyman (b.1944) – Minimalism
  22. Krzysztof Penderecki (b.1933) – Eclectic, Modernism
  23. Arvo Pärt (b.1935) – Minimalism, Religious
  24. Steve Reich (b.1936) – Minimalism
  25. Max Richter (b.1966) – Minimalism, Postminimalism
  26. Terry Riley (b.1935) – Minimalism
  27. John Rutter – (b.1945) Traditional, Religious
  28. Kaija Saariaho (b.1952) – Spectral
  29. Sven-David Sandström (b.1942) – Eclectic
  30. Salvatore Sciarrino (b.1947) – Avant-Garde
  31. Bent Sörensen (b.1958) – Modernism
  32. Mark-Anthony Turnage (b.1960) – Eclectic
  33. Erkki-Sven Tüür (b.1959) – Modernism
  34. Peteris Vasks (b.1946) – Eclectic
  35. Rolf Wallin (b.1957) – Eclectic
  36. Michael Blake Watkins (b.1948) – Postmodernism
  37. Eric Whitacre – (b.1970) Modernism, Neo-Impressionism
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