From Copland to Corelli, we have a good time a number of the best LGBTQ+ composers in classical music historical past.

With Delight season in full swing, we take a second to have a good time the unbelievable contributions queer composers have made to the historical past of classical music.

  • Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

    Edward Benjamin Britten is without doubt one of the most interesting composers of English operas, choral works, and songs, lots of which he wrote for his life companion, tenor Sir Peter Pears.

    Britten began writing music as younger as 9, when he wrote an oratorio. He studied below Frank Bridge, John Eire and Arthur Benjamin amongst others, and was additionally a tremendous pianist.

    His ground-breaking operas, which embrace Peter Grimes (1945), and The Flip of the Screw (1954) – and his well-known Battle Requiem – deal with contemporaneous points round psychology and post-war trauma, as nicely his personal homosexuality, which was unlawful in Britten’s lifetime.

    Britten based the Aldeburgh Pageant in Suffolk with Pears and librettist Eric Crozier.

    Sir Benjamin Britten on Aldeburgh Beach
    Sir Benjamin Britten on Aldeburgh Seaside.


  • Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944)

    Ethel Smyth was a prolific composer and an energetic member of the ladies’s suffrage motion, and she or he made no secret of her relationships with girls.

    Born in South-East London, Smyth studied on the Leipzig Conservatory and there met composers that included Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Clara Schumann and Brahms. Her best-known works are the opera The Wreckers and her Mass in D.

    Her 1911 tune, ‘The March of the Ladies’, which had lyrics by Cicely Hamilton, was devoted to motion chief Emmeline Pankhurst – documented to have been a lover of Smyth’s – and have become the official anthem of the Ladies’s Social and Political Union and ladies’s suffrage activism world wide.

    On the age of 71 Smyth, by all accounts, met and fell in love with Virginia Woolf (who would have been in her 40s on the time). Woolf described it as “like being caught by a large crab”, for higher or worse…

    Dame Ethel Smyth
    Dame Ethel Smyth.


  • Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

    In addition to being one of many first brazenly homosexual composers full cease, Poulenc additionally didn’t eschew his sexuality within the context of his non secular religion.

    His compositions spanned from intimate chamber sonatas with chic, twisting melodies and delicate impressionist harmonies (assume the 1957 Flute Sonata), to his Piano Concerto and epic one-act opera for soprano and orchestra, La voix humaine.

    Music students proceed to debate whether or not or not the various vary of types in his music function an outward illustration of an internal ethical battle in Poulenc.

  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

    Tchaikovsky was born in Votkinsk, a small city within the Russian Empire, and started composition classes with Anton Rubinstein in 1861. His nice works embrace his ballets like Swan Lake, The Sleeping Magnificence, and The Nutcracker, and his 1812 Overture.

    He had a disastrous marriage to 1 Antonina Miliukova in 1877 and tried suicide. Tchaikovsky was homosexual at a time when it was unlawful in Russia. His marriage was designed to cease individuals gossiping about his love life – but it surely was a supply of distress and torment for each him and Miliukova.

    Tchaikovsky apparently fell in love along with his personal nephew Vladimir Davydov, a complication that was lower brief by the older man’s tragic loss of life from cholera – or one other trigger if different theories are to be believed – in 1893.

  • George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

    Handel’s choral and operatic compositions stay among the many most influential items ever written – from the enduringly common Messiah, to the operas Rinaldo and Agrippina – to not point out his tremendous orchestral, chamber and instrumental works.

    The good composer was born in Halle, Germany, and studied music from a younger age. He moved to England as a longtime composer, after English audiences notably took to his 1711 opera Rinaldo.

    He was believed to have been homosexual, transferring in circles in Italy and London the place same-sex want was accepted. Music historian Ellen Harris leads on the case for Handel’s homosexuality, arguing that his cantatas exhibit a transparent gay subtext in her e book Handel as Orpheus.

  • Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)

    The operatic composer and violinist Jean-Baptiste Lully labored within the courtroom of King Louis XIV and was an bold determine in courtroom and operatic music, dominating French opera within the 17th century.

    In addition to being identified for rising up influential ranks impressively shortly, Lully is assumed to have had fairly the colorful non-public life, embarking on affairs with each women and men – to the extent it acquired him in scorching water with the King.

    Lully died comparatively younger, succumbing to a deadly an infection in a wound on his foot, inflicted by his personal conducting stick.

    Jean-Baptiste Lully
    Jean-Baptiste Lully.


  • Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)

    Corelli was a up to date of each Lully and Handel (see above), transferring in the identical sexually-fluid circles as them. And like them, he was related to homosexual clergyman, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni.

    The Baroque composer and violinist is understood for his chamber sonatas and concerti grossi, and has gone down in historical past for refusing to play a bit of Handel’s oratorio, The Triumph Of Time And Fact, as a result of a violin be aware went greater than Corelli believed acceptable for the instrument.

  • Frederick the Nice (1712-1786)

    King Frederick II of Prussia as soon as wrote “Fortune has it in for me; she is a girl, and I’m not that method inclined” following a very bitter defeat in battle.

    Historical past has documented the King as having an early affair with Peter Karl Christoph von Keith, a web page boy of his father Frederick William I’s, in addition to Lieutenant of the Prussian Military, Hans Hermann von Katte, whom Frederick William had killed in response to those revelations about his son.

    Frederick the Nice composed a number of concertos and sonatas, and was additionally a flautist who studied with Johann Joachim Quantz.

  • Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

    New York-born composer, Aaron Copland, was one of many many famend composition college students of Paris Conservatoire’s Nadia Boulanger, whose roster of composition, efficiency and conducting college students just about dominated 20th century music – from Astor Piazzolla, Philip Glass and Quincy Jones, to Daniel Barenboim and John Eliot Gardiner.

    Copland, whose best-known works embrace Appalachian Spring and Fanfare for the Frequent Man, was a famously non-public man, however unearthed letters between him and artist Prentiss Taylor point out an intimate relationship. Copland additionally didn’t cover the very fact he lived and travelled with different males, together with photographer Victor Kraft and artist Alvin Ross.

  • Samuel Barber (1910-1981)

    In contrast to Copland, US composer Samuel Barber made no effort to maintain his homosexuality out of specific view and his life companion was composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who he studied with on the Curtis Institute.

    Barber received the Pulitzer Prize for Music twice – in 1958 for his opera Vanessa, and once more in 1963 for his Piano Concerto.

    His Adagio for Strings was one of many first works by an American composer to be championed by the indomitable Arturo Toscanini, and featured famously in Oliver Stone’s 1987 movie, Platoon.

  • Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007)

    Not as a lot of a family title as his life companion Samuel Barber (see above), Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti was no much less lauded for his works. He was additionally a Pulitzer Prize-winner, having earned the accolade for his operas The Consul and The Saint of Bleecker Avenue.

    He based the Spoleto Pageant within the US in 1958, and 10 years later expanded it to the Melbourne Spoleto Pageant, now often known as the Melbourne Worldwide Arts Pageant.

  • Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)

    Leonard Bernstein additionally studied on the Curtis Institute with Barber and Menotti (see above), and though he had an on-again-off-again relationship with actor Felicia Cohn Montealegre and finally married her, he was brazenly homosexual.

    Montealegre herself wrote publicly about it in her e book, The Bernstein Letters, “you’re a gay and should by no means change – you don’t admit to the opportunity of a double life, but when your peace of thoughts, your well being, your entire nervous system rely upon a sure sexual sample what are you able to do?”.

    And Bernstein’s West Aspect Story collaborator Arthur Laurents is understood to have known as Bernstein “a homosexual man who acquired married”, stating, “He wasn’t conflicted about it in any respect. He was simply homosexual.”

  • Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

    In his brief life – he died even youthful than Mozart, at simply 31 – the nice Romantic composer Franz Schubert composed 600 Lieder (songs), 9 symphonies and quite a few different massive and smaller-scale works.

    In 1989, music historian Maynard Solomon urged (controversially on the time), that Schubert’s tune lyrics carry the proof that Schubert was romantically drawn to males – one thing that has been hotly contested, together with by historian Rita Steblin who believes Schubert was “chasing males”. Others have picked up on the previous idea extra not too long ago, but it surely appears the Jury continues to be out.

  • John Cage (1912-1992)

    John Cage – who famously “wrote” four minutes and 33 seconds of silence to discover live performance corridor atmosphere and what music really means – married artist Xenia Andreyevna Kashevaroff, the daughter of a Russian priest, in 1935.

    However earlier than that, Cage had had an ongoing relationship with Don Pattern, in addition to an affair with the spouse of architect Rudolf Schindler, Pauline Gibling – so his sexuality was clearly fluid.

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