Here are some of the classical composers I have loved the most over the years...my tastes do tend be rather eclectic and range far beyond the list here.
These sites linked to contain both images and text and are an excellent
introduction to these great composers.
Gustav Mahler, He has been my favorite composer for over 10 years. His music has it all, ranging from the profound to the mundane and the nihilistically pessimistic to the totally triumphant. Mahler's symphonies are truly "worlds" in their scope of sounds and human emotions.
Dmitri Shostakovich. Shostakovich was in many ways a follower of Mahler. Like Mahler, his symphonies were usually long and epic in scope. However, much of his music was distinctly 20th century in its construction and content. A survivor of both Hitler and Stalin, he was probably the greatest symphonist of the mid to late 20th Century.
Ludwig Beethoven. What more can I say? Still, I think much of his greatest music is overlooked. If you want to get off the beaten (but worthwhile) track, try listening to his 8th Symphony and his last string quartets. They will show you how far ahead of his time Beethoven really was. He deserves the honor of being called the greatest genius music has ever seen.
Anton Bruckner. Poor Bruckner, he always gets picked on. I think he is one of the most unfairly underrated composers of the 19th Century. Much of it had to do with his being in the middle of the infamous Brahms (and the classicists) versus Wagner (and the romantics) war that raged in Vienna during the late 19th century. His symphonies are like cathedrals, huge and majestic -- and some of the most original in music.
Alexander Scriabin. He was an turn of the century composer mostly known for his piano music and some very unusual symphonies. In his last, he saw the world dissolving away in a great magical act that would unite all of existence with eternity. Because he was so talented, he actually communicates his feelings persuasively!
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