Success can be hard to measure. What one person finds important may be totally irrelevant for another. But as a composer, one thing that makes you more successful than others is the number of people that know your music. They might not be aware that it was you who wrote it, but they will recognize and love some of your work. So, let’s list some of today’s richest composers in terms of how much their net worth is and how recognizable their music is!
Andrew Lloyd Webber ($1.2 billion)
Memory, all alone in the moonlight… Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music for famous musicals such as Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This has made him incredibly wealthy and apparently the second richest musician in the UK. Much like a modern-day Mozart, he started playing the violin when he was three years old and has been composing music since he was little.
John Williams ($300 million)
John Williams is a master of memorable motifs. We’ve all been there, whistling one of his melodies as we go about our everyday life. Humming the motif from Jaws in the bathtub, imagining being a hero while listening to the music from Superman in our head, or singing the theme from Indiana Jones once we are off on a new adventure. Williams has been active as a composer for more than 60 years and is still going strong. Without this guy, movie music would probably be very different.
Bjorn Ulvaeus ($300 million)
The Swedish musician and composer is probably best known for being one of the members of the iconic band ABBA. He also composed a lot of music you might have heard elsewhere. Some examples are the scores for the musicals Chess and Mamma Mia!.
Hans Zimmer ($200 million)
Have you seen The Lion King? How about Pirates of the Caribbean? What about Madagascar? Inception? Rain Man? The Simpsons Movie? Interstellar? Hans Zimmer composed the scores for these movies, and many, many more. He is a movie music hero that has composed music for pretty much every single genre. It is almost impossible to go through life without hearing his music. He won an Oscar for The Lion King and also worked on the musical with the same name.
Alan Menken ($100 million)
Alan Menken wrote the music for Disney movies such as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Aladdin, Tangled, and many more. And to be completely honest, what would these movies be without the music? He has won eight Oscars and eleven Grammy awards. This guy really knows how to write songs that make you want to sing along!
Philip Glass ($35 million)
Even though he might not be as popular as the other names in this list, Philip Glass is still considered one of the most important and successful composers of our time. His minimal style has inspired many other composers. Glassworks and Einstein on the Beach (the opera that Glass had no idea was an opera!) are examples of his most famous compositions, but he also composed the score for some movies, for example part of The Truman Show with Jim Carrey.
Of course, it is impossible to make a complete list of all successful composers. But these are, without a doubt, some of the most influential and richest composers.