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LGBTQ+ Music Resources

Scholarly and performance resources that represent works by and about LGBTQ+ musicians

Notable Composers

There are may notable composers that are a part of the LGBTQ+ community who have contributed wonderful works and contributions to the field of music. The composers in this page are those who's works and contributions are available at the UNT Music Library. To access a list of materials for each of the composer, clicking on their name or photo will redirect you to the UNT Library Discover Catalog with a pre-filtered list of their works and contributions.


We are always open to suggestions at the Music library. If you have any recommendations for composers you feel need to be represented in this guide, feel free to email us at Music.Library@unt.edu or fill out our New Purchase Request/Recommendation form for the Music Library and we can process these requests.

Adamo, Mark (b. 1962)

Composer Mark AdamoAmerican composer and librettist. He attended New York University, where he won the Paulette Goddard Remarque award for undergraduate playwriting, and the Catholic University of America, from which he received a Bachelor of Music degree in composition in 1990 and was the winner of the Theodore Presser award for outstanding undergraduate composition. Adamo's music, which embraces a wide variety of 20th- and 21st-century techniques and influences ranging from music-theatre to serialism, has garnered commissions for four full-length operas from the companies of San Francisco, Dallas, and Houston, as well as orchestral and chamber works for Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra, Sir James Galway, baritone Thomas Hampson, and the chamber choir Chanticleer.

Source: Leonard, Kendra Preston. "Adamo, Mark." Grove Music Online. 31 Jan. 2014. From Grove Music Online database. Photo source: Mark Adamo official website


Addinsell, Richard (1904-1977)

Composer Richard AddinsellEnglish composer. After a brief spell at the RCM (1925–6), he began his career contributing songs to revues and incidental music for stage plays. An early and productive collaboration began in 1928, when he wrote incidental music for Adam's Opera by the writer Clemence Dane (1882–1965). By 1936 he had started scoring for feature films and documentaries, his first major success coming with Goodbye Mr Chips in 1939.  Although he contributed many works to the theatre and films, his Warsaw Concerto for the 1941 British film Dangerous Moonlight eclipsed all others as far as the public was concerned. Following its success, Addinsell's popular piano-concerto style resulted in numerous similar pieces by other composers: Bath's Cornish Rhapsody, Williams's Dream of Olwen and Rota's Legend of the Glass Mountain are three prime examples.

Source: Ades, David. "Addinsell, Richard." Grove Music Online. 2001. From Grove Music Online database. Photo source: European American Music Distributors Company website.


Aragón, Jared Isaac (b.1990)

Composer Jared AragonComposer and organist Jared Isaac Aragón has been immersed in music his entire life. Growing up in the bosques of Central New Mexico, his parents owned a music store where he discovered his love for music. As a composer, Aragón has won awards from the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the College Music Society, the DissonArt Ensmble (Thessaloniki, Greece), the Santa Fe Community Orchestra (Santa Fe, NM), and Les amis de l’orgue de Montréal (Montréal, Canada). He has presented his music and performed as an organist at the 2015 Lucca International Festival for new music in Lucca, Italy and created performance editions of several newly discovered works by composer Florence Price for the E.W. Jones Black Music Festival at the University of Arkansas. His music is published by Jeanné-Inc. and Firehead Editions of London. Aragón serves as organist and director of handbells at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona and is a member of the percussion-organ duo sonidos encendidos.

Source: “Bio.” Jared Isaac Aragón​. website. Photo source: Jared Isaac Aragón website.

Barber, Samuel (1910-1981)

Composer Samuel BarberAmerican composer. One of the most honored and most frequently performed American composers in Europe and the Americas during the mid-20th century, Barber pursued, throughout his career, a path marked by a vocally inspired lyricism and a commitment to the tonal language and many of the forms of late 19th-century music. Almost all of his published works – including at least one composition in nearly every genre – entered the repertory soon after he wrote them and many continue to be widely performed today.

Source: Heyman, Barbara B. "Barber, Samuel." Grove Music Online. 2001. From Grove Music Online database. Photo source: Channel Records International website.

 


Benjamin, Arthur (1893-1960)

Composer Arthur BenjaminThe Australian-English composer Arthur Benjamin possessed an adventurous and generous sprit that enabled him to assimilate influences as disparate as Brahms, Gershwin, and Jamaican popular music. Benjamin's love of popular culture, while admirable and foresighted, did his career considerable harm during his lifetime and has mute his posthumous reputation. He was further damaged by courageously rejecting modernist fashions and by composing a piece of genuine popular music, the Jamaican Rhumba (1938). His ambitions as an opera composer were thwarted in part by the operatic successes of his erstwhile piano student Benjamin Britten, but Vaughan Williams had warm praise for Benjamin's grand opera, A Tale of Two Cities (1950).

Source: George Haggerty. 2005. Encyclopedia of Gay Histories and Cultures. Garland Reference Library of the Social Sciences. New York: Routledge. Photo source: Hyperion Records website


Bennett, Richard Rodney (1936-2012)

Composer Sir Richard Rodney BennettFew composers nowadays manage to avoid being ‘pigeon-holed’; Sir Richard Rodney Bennett (b. 1936), however, is a rare and fine exception. As well as writing for the opera theatre and the concert hall, he also composes film music, and, a versatile pianist, plays jazz and performs songs from the shows in cabaret. Above all else, he is a composer with an overwhelming desire to communicate.

Source: "Sir Richard Rodney Bennett". Universal Edition. website. Photo Source: 


Bernstein, Leonard (1918-1990)

Composer Leonard BernsteinAcademy Award nominee Leonard Bernstein was the first American musician to receive worldwide acclaim for his skills as a conductor and composer. He was music director of the new York Philharmonic from 1958 to 1969, leading more concerts than any other conductor. His compositions, the musical West Side Story (1957) above all, were both critical and commercial successes. In spite of his classical music background, the conductor was eager to explore popular culture and frequently appeared on television, displaying his flamboyant style of conducting to the delight of vast audiences. As his popularity grew in the 1960s, Bernstein also lent his support to radical causes, such as anti-Vietnam war demonstrations and the civil rights movement. Yet, throughout his life, he was unable to fully come out of the closet and declare openly his homosexuality. Commenting on his death, journalist Paul Moor (“Klassik in Berlin,” 1990) wrote: “over and over, Leonard Bernstein gave the appearance of a profoundly troubled man desperately trying to come out. But if he never came out in the customary sense, he did everything just short of it. . . . if he had, it would have made him a far less unhappy man.”

Source: Luca Prono. 2008. Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Popular Culture. Westport, Conn: Greenwood. Photo source: West Side Story website.


Blitzstein, Marc (1904-1964)

Composer Marc BlitzsteinMarcus Samuel Blitzstein was born in Philadelphia on March 2nd, 1905. Born to an affluent family, his musical gifts were apparent at an early age. He went on to study piano with Alexander Siloti, (a pupil of Liszt and Tchaikovsky), and made his professional concerto debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Liszt’s E flat Piano Concerto when he was 21. After studying composition at the Curtis Institute of Music, he continued his studies in Europe with Arnold Schoenberg in Berlin,and Nadia Boulanger in Paris.

Source: "Biography". European American Music Distributors Company. website. Photo source: European American Music Distributors Company website.

Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich (1840-1893)

Composer Pyotr Ilyich TchaikovskyRussian composer. He was the first composer of a new Russian type, fully professional, who firmly assimilated traditions of Western European symphonic mastery; in a deeply original, personal and national style he united the symphonic thought of Beethoven and Schumann with the work of Glinka, and transformed Liszt’s and Berlioz’s achievements in depictive-programmatic music into matters of Shakespearian elevation and psychological import (Boris Asaf′yev).

Source: Wiley, Roland John. "Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Il′yich." Grove Music Online. 2001. From Grove Music Online database. Photo source: flickr website.

 


Tilson Thomas, Michael (b. 1944)

Composer and conductor Michael Tilson ThomasMichael Tilson Thomas is Founder and Artistic Director Laureate of the New World Symphony, Music Director Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony, and Conductor Laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra. In addition to conducting the world’s leading orchestras, MTT is also noted for his work as a composer and a producer of multimedia projects that are dedicated to music education and the reimagination of the concert experience. He has won eleven Grammys for his recordings, is the recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the 2019 Kennedy Center Honors, and is an Officier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France.

Source: "Biography." Michael Tilson Thomas. website. Photo source: Michael Tilson Thomas website.

 


Thomson, Virgil (1896-1989)

Composer Virgil ThomsonVirgil Thomson (1896-1989) was a many-faceted American composer of great originality and a music critic of singular brilliance. Utilizing a musical style marked by sharp wit and overt playfulness, he composed in almost every genre of music, producing a highly original body of work rooted in American speech rhythms and hymnbook harmony. His music was influenced by Satie’s ideals of clarity, simplicity, irony, and humor. Though mostly diatonic and tonal in feeling, some of his work was densely chromatic (Three Tone Poems) and even 12-tone in organization (A Solemn Music).

Source: "Virgil Thomson." Virgil Thomson. website. Photo source: New York Times article.


Tippett, Michael (1905-1998)

Composer Michael TippettMichael Tippett was born in London and studied music at the Royal College before embarking on an early career as a composer, supported by work with the orchestra and choir of Morley College in South London, tasks that he found socially relevant. His idiosyncratic style developed relatively slowly, flowering in a series of remarkable operas for which he provided his own libretti. Public recognition came with a knighthood in 1966 and appointment as a Companion of Honour in 1979.

Source: "Tippett, Michael." Naxos Music Library. From the Naxos Music Library database. Photo source: Classic FM website.

Williams, Evan (b. 1988)

Composer Evan WilliamsDrawing from inspirations as diverse as Medieval chant to contemporary pop, the music of composer and conductor Evan Williams (b. 1988) explores the thin lines between beauty and disquieting, joy and sorrow, and simple and complex, while often tackling important social and political issues. Williams’ catalogue contains a broad range of work, from vocal and operatic offerings to instrumental works, along with electronic music. 

Source: "Biography" Evan Williams. website. Photo source: Evan Williams Music website.

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