Afternoon gents, it’s Max from the Young Gentleman’s Guide here! So, this post will be a little different than most of our other posts. I thought I’d pull back the curtain on shine some light on something that I’m passionate about. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I absolutely love music (I’m even studying it at San Francisco State). And among my favorite parts of music include those who write said music. So today, I thought I’d tell you guys about some of my favorite composers and why I admire them as much as I do. So, let’s start the list!
1. John Williams (1932)
Anyone who’s a fan of cinema has heard at least one score by John Williams. As a matter of fact, he’s my all-time favorite composer. As someone who loves movies and cinema just as much as I love music, it’s pretty much sacreligious to not like John Williams. The amount of scores he’s written is lenghty, so I’ll try to keep it to my favorites: Jaws, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman (1978), Jurassic Park, The Terminal, Hook, and that’s not even half of what he’s written scores for. Known as “Maestro of the Movies”, this man has the honor of being the individual with the second-highest number of Oscar nominations, second only to Walt Disney. Not only that, but he is also a very long-time confidant to Steven Spielberg, so with very few exceptions, there probably isn’t a single Spielberg movie that John Williams didn’t write the score for. The sheer number of movies he’s scored is enough to marvel at, but another thing that baffles at least me about John Williams is that he can write music in so many different styles, ranging from American march to Italian overture to even jazz (watch the original Star Wars movie if you don’t believe me). He’s definitely one of my biggest inspirations, and I always look forward to hearing a new score from him.
2. Michael Giacchino (1967)
Yet another film composer, Michael Giacchino is similar to John Williams in the sense that he can write music in so many different styles. Probably my favorite film score in the last ten years is the score from the 2009 reboot of Star Trek, which was written by Michael Giacchino. But not only that, but if there’s a Pixar movie that wasn’t scored by Randy Newman, then it was most likely scored by Michael Giacchino. In fact, one of my favorite scores from him other than Star Trek is his score for The Incredibles. That score was pretty much a love letter to spy movie and TV scores of the 50s and 60s, and it fits perfectly with the movie. Some of his other notable scores were written for Super 8, Up, Inside Out, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and the TV show Lost. With him contributing the scores to some of my favorite movies of all time, it’s pretty much impossible for me to not love this guy.
3. Pyotr I’lyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Moving away from film composers, Tchaikovsky is actually my favorite composer who wasn’t a such a composer (he obviously lived at a time where motion pictures didn’t even exist). One of the highlights from my time at community college was working with my music director there to play in the pit orchestra when a local ballet company put on a production of Tchaikovsky’s world-famous ballet, The Nutcracker. After that venture, I gained a much larger appreciation for the Russian romantic composer. If you didn’t know, Tchaikovsky also wrote two other beloved ballets on top of The Nutcracker: Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. His name is pretty much associated with the ballet, but he has had a number of other popular and/or successful compositions. Some of those compositions being his 5th and 6th symphonies, his opera The Queen of Spades, and his 1812 Overture (which I lovingly refer to as “the original diss track”). One of my favorite things about Tchaikovsky is that he seemed to use his music and his compositions as an escape from reality, as his personal life was a disaster. Because Tchaikovsky was gay, he suffered from depression and almost went through a complete meltdown after he got married but then walked out on his wife after only a few weeks. But it was his music that really kept him in check. One of my favorite quotes from him is “Truly there would be reason to go mad were it not for music.” For whatever reason, that quote just really sticks with me, and I often look to that quote if I’m ever feeling down.
4. Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
Possibly my greatest highlight from community college was getting to perform Mahler’s 1st Symphony, “The Titan” with my college symphony. When we first started rehearsing it, I didn’t like it very much, I thought it was weird. But after we started working on it and came closer to performing, I came to appreciate not just that piece of music, (which came to be my second favorite of all time, right behind The Nutcracker Suite) but Mahler in general. It was also really interesting to find that the most common interpretation of Mahler’s 1st symphony is pretty much me when I’m single. On top of being a prolific composer, he was also a phenomenal conductor. In fact, he was the person most people at the time studies when they wanted to become a great conductor. Not only that, but he was one of few composers that I’m aware of who was Catholic. While he was born Jewish, he later converted to Catholicism in his twenties. I just found that really cool, that the guy who wrote one of my favorite pieces of classical music also happened to share in my faith!
5. Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
Obviously, as a lover of music, I’m also a fan of musical theatre. And this man is one of the biggest names associated with the theatre. Bernstein has written the music for some of the greatest musicals in the history of musical theatre, such as On The Town, Candide, and of course, West Side Story. And with West Side Story having made a comeback on Broadway a couple years back with some contributions from the final person on this list (spoiler alert for those who already knows who that person is), his influence shows no sign of going away any time soon. Aside from pretty much being the reason why I could never date a woman named Maria, I also owe a lot to Bernstein because I took quite a bit of influence from him when writing my composition A Journey Through California (which you can check out right here if you’re interested). One of my friends even said that composition even sounds like something from Bernstein, which I consider a big compliment.
6. Lin-Manuel Miranda
The man who made Broadway cool again, I cannot get enough of this guy! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard about the musical sensation Hamilton. And I agree with the popular opinion, it’s freaking amazing! Obviously, that’s due almost entirely to this guy. I’ve never really been a fan of rap or hip-hop music, so when I heard that there was a hip-hop musical about the life and history of Alexander Hamilton, the first US Secretary of the Treasury, I had no idea what to think of it. I’m a pretty big history buff, so I was certainly interested, but I still wasn’t sure because of my general dislike of hip-hop. But then after listening to the cast recording on Spotify, I just fell in love. The guy practically started a revolution (no pun intended). Not only was Hamilton one of the biggest hits in Broadway history, it was also one of the biggest influences for an entire generation. Plus he made me enjoy hip-hop, that has to be a plus, right?
So there it is! Just a handful of some of my favorite composers and why I regard them as such. I apologize for how different this post was compared to all the others. This was kind of last-minute since Jonah and I both didn’t really have anything specific planned for today. In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading today’s post. Please be sure to share the post, follow the blog, and follow The Young Gentleman’s Guideon Facebook and Instagram. And on that note, this is Max from The Young Gentleman’s Guide, and I’ll see you next time!