Music

List of Famous Music Directors

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List of famous music directors, with photos, bios, and other information when available. Who are the top music directors in the world? This includes the most prominent music directors, living and dead, both in America and abroad. Many of the top music directors are also featured on the best Indian music directors of all time and the most famous female music directors. This list of notable music directors is ordered by their level of prominence, and can be sorted for various bits of information, such as where these historic music directors were born and what their nationality is. The people on this list are from different countries, but what they all have in common is that they're all renowned music directors.

The list you're viewing contains popular musical directors and conductors like Leonard Bernstein, A. R. Rahman, and Gustav Mahler.

From reputable, prominent, and well known music directors to the lesser known music directors of today, these are some of the best professionals in the music director field. If you want to answer the questions, "Who are the most famous music directors ever?" and "What are the names of famous music directors?" then you're in the right place. 

Leonard Bernstein is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Leonard Bernstein ( BURN-styne; August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated ...more

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A. R. Rahman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Allahrakka Rahman pronunciation ; born A. S. Dileep Kumar) known professionally as A. R. Rahman, is an Indian music director, singer and music producer. His works are noted for integrating ...more

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Wynton Marsalis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Wynton Learson Marsalis (born October 18, 1961) is an American virtuoso trumpeter, composer, teacher, and artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has promoted classical and jazz music, ...more

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#6 of 45 The Best Saxophonists in the World #2 of 20 The Best Cornetists in the World

Ilaiyaraaja is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Ilaiyaraaja (born Gnanathesikan; 2 June 1943) is an Indian film composer, singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, orchestrator, conductor-arranger and lyricist who works in the Indian Film ...more

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#1,845 of 2,175 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #44 of 342 The Best World Music Artists

Ennio Morricone is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Ennio Morricone, OMRI (Italian: [ˈɛnnjo morriˈkoːne]; born 10 November 1928) is an Italian composer, orchestrator, conductor, and former trumpet player, writing in a wide range of musical ...more

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#182 of 2,175 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #81 of 362 The Best Classical Composers #129 of 140 Bygone Musicians You Most Want to See Perform as Holograms

Paul Shaffer is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Paul Allen Wood Shaffer, CM (born November 28, 1949) is a Canadian singer, composer, actor, author, comedian and multi-instrumentalist who served as David Letterman's musical director, band ...more

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Yuvan Shankar Raja is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Yuvan Shankar Raja (born 31 August 1979) is an Indian film score and soundtrack composer and singer-songwriter. He predominantly scores music for Tamil films. Being the youngest son of the ...more

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#3 of 89 The Greatest Indian Music Directors of All Time #176 of 183 The Best Film Score Composers

André Previn is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
André George Previn, (; born Andreas Ludwig Priwin; April 6, 1929 – February 28, 2019) was a German-American pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor. His career was three-pronged. ...more

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#202 of 519 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song? #29 of 163 The Greatest Jazz Pianists of All Time

S. P. Balasubrahmanyam ... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam (born 4 June 1946) mostly referred to as S. P. B. or Balu is an Indian playback singer, music director, actor, dubbing artist and film producer who ...more

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#443 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #1,032 of 2,166 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

Sergiu Celibidache is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Sergiu Celibidache (Romanian: [ˈserdʒju tʃelibiˈdake]; 11 July [O.S. 28 June] 1912, Roman, Romania – 14 August 1996, La Neuville-sur-Essonne, France) was a Romanian conductor, composer, musical ...more
Hector Berlioz is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Louis-Hector Berlioz (, French: [ɛktɔʁ bɛʁljoz]; 11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) was a French Romantic composer. His output includes orchestral works such as the Symphonie fantastique and ...more

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#7 of 33 The Best French Composers of All Time, Ranked #22 of 79 The Greatest Romantic Era Composers

Simon Rattle is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Sir Simon Denis Rattle (born 19 January 1955) is a British conductor. He rose to international prominence during the 1980s and 1990s, while Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony ...more
Claudio Abbado is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Claudio Abbado, Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [ˈklaudjo abˈbaːdo]; 26 June 1933 – 20 January 2014) was an Italian conductor. One of the most celebrated and respected ...more
Herbert von Karajan is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Herbert von Karajan (German: [ˈhɛɐbɛɐt fɔn ˈkaraˌjan] (listen); born Heribert Ritter von Karajan; 5 April 1908 – 16 July 1989) was an Austrian conductor. He was principal conductor of the Berlin ...more
Wilhelm Furtwängler... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Gustav Heinrich Ernst Martin Wilhelm Furtwängler (UK: FOORT-veng-glər, US: -⁠lər, German: [ˈvɪlhɛlm ˈfʊɐ̯tvɛŋlɐ]; January 25, 1886 – November 30, 1954) was a German conductor and composer. ...more
Richard Strauss is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Richard Georg Strauss (German pronunciation: [ˈʁɪçaɐ̯t ˈʃtʁaʊs]; 11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for ...more

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#112 of 2,175 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #20 of 362 The Best Classical Composers #212 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

Leopold Stokowski is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Leopold Anthony Stokowski (18 April 1882 – 13 September 1977) was an English conductor of Polish descent. One of the leading conductors of the early and mid-20th century, he is best known for ...more
Arturo Toscanini is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Arturo Toscanini (, Italian: [arˈtuːro toskaˈniːni]; March 25, 1867 – January 16, 1957) was an Italian conductor. He was one of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and of the 20th ...more
Gustav Mahler is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler (German: [ˈmaːlɐ]; 7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was an Austro-Bohemian late-Romantic composer, and one of the leading conductors of his generation. As a composer he acted as a bridge ...more

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#266 of 2,175 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #891 of 2,828 The Most Influential People of All Time

Walt Levinsky is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Walt Levinsky was an American big band and orchestral player, composer, arranger and band leader. While many of his big band assignments were as lead alto sax player, his favorite instrument was ...more

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#80 of 87 The Greatest Clarinetists of All Time #94 of 183 The Best Film Score Composers

Sajid-Wajid is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Sajid-Wajid
Sajid–Wajid is a Hindi music composer duo consisting of brothers Sajid Ali and Wajid Ali. Sajid Ali and Wajid Ali are the sons of Ustad Sharafat Kha, a tabla player. Actress and singer Salma ...more
Marc Shaiman is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Marc Shaiman (; born October 22, 1959) is an American composer and lyricist for films, television, and theatre, best known for his collaborations with lyricist and director Scott Wittman. He ...more
Harris Jayaraj is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Harris Jayaraj (born 8 January 1975) is an Indian film composer from Chennai , Tamil Nadu. He composes soundtracks predominantly for Tamil films, while also having composed for a few films in ...more
Michael Tilson Thomas is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Michael Tilson Thomas (born December 21, 1944) is an American conductor, pianist and composer. He is currently music director of the San Francisco Symphony, and artistic director of the New ...more
Daryl Coley is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Music Directors
Daryl Lynn Coley (October 30, 1955 – March 15, 2016) was an American Christian singer. At 14, Coley was a member of the ensemble "Helen Stephens and the Voices of Christ". He began ...more