Influential Composers Who Died Young

Died 50 Years Old and Younger

Have you ever wondered what would've happened if Mozart didn't die when he was only 35 years old? Would he have composed more or did he already reach the pinnacle of his career at the time of his death? Here is a list of influential composers who died young; most of whom before the age of 50.

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Isaac Albéniz

Piano prodigy who made his debut at age 4, went on a concert tour at age 8 and entered the Madrid Conservatory at age 9. He is known for his virtuoso piano music, most notable of which is a collection of piano pieces called "Iberia." He died on May 18, 1909 in Cambo-les-Bains, France before his 49th birthday.

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Alban Berg

Austrian composer and teacher who adapted the atonal style. He was a student of Arnold Schoenberg; his early works reflected Schoenberg's influence. However, Berg's originality and creativity became more evident in his later works, especially in his two operas: ""Lulu" and "Wozzeck." Berg died on December 24, 1935 in Vienna at the age of 50.

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Georges Bizet

French composer who influenced the verismo school of opera. He wrote operas, orchestral works, incidental music, compositions for piano and songs. He died on June 3, 1875 in Bougival near Paris at the age of 37.

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Lili Boulanger

French composer and younger sister of music educator and composer Nadia Boulanger. She died of Crohn's disease on March 15, 1918 in France; she was only 24 years old.

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Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin

Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin. Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons

Child prodigy and music genius. Among his most famous compositions are: "Polonaises in G minor and B flat major 9" (which he composed when he was 7 years old), "Variations, op. 2 on a theme from Don Juan by Mozart," "Ballade in F major" and "Sonata in C minor." He died at the age of 39 on October 17, 1849 due to pulmonary tuberculosis.

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George Gershwin

One of the prominent composers of the 20th century. He composed scores for Broadway musicals and created some of the most memorable songs of our time, including my personal favorite "Someone to Watch Over Me." He died at the age of 38 on July 11, 1937 in Hollywood, California, during a brain operation.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

One of the most important Classical composers in history. His over 600 compositions still influence countless musicians and listeners to this day. Among his famous works are "Symphony No. 35 Haffner, K. 385 - D Major," "Così fan tutte, K. 588" and "Requiem Mass, K. 626 - d minor." He died on December 5, 1791 in Vienna; some researchers say it was due to kidney failure. He was only 35 years old.

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Modest Mussorgsky

Modest Mussorgsky Public Domain Portrait by Ilya Yefimovich Repin. from Wikimedia Commons

Russian composer who was a member of "The Five" also known as "The Russian Five" or "The Mighty Five;" a group composed of 5 Russian composers who wanted to establish a nationalist school of Russian music. He died on March 28, 1881 in St. Petersburg, just one week short of his 42nd birthday.

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Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

Italian composer and musician known for his operas. He died at the young age of 26 on March 17, 1736 in Pozzuoli; a province of Naples in Italy, due to tuberculosis.

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Henry Purcell

One of the great composers of the Baroque period and one of the great English composers. One of his most notable works is the opera "Dido and Aeneas" which he originally wrote for a girl's school situated in Chelsea. He died on November 21, 1695 in London at the age of 36.

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Franz Schubert

Franz Schubert Image by Josef Kriehuber. Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons

Referred to as the "master of song" of which he wrote more than 200. Some of his well known works are: "Serenade," "Ave Maria," "Who is Sylvia?" and "C Major symphony." He died on November 19, 1828 in Vienna at the age of 31.

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Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann. Public Domain Image from Wikimedia Commons

German composer who served as the voice of other Romantic composers. Among his well known works are "Piano Concerto in A minor," "Arabesque in C Major Op. 18," "Child Falling Asleep" and "The Happy Peasant". He died on July 29, 1856 before the age of 46. One of the factors believed to have caused his death was the mercury treatments he underwent when he was in an asylum.

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Kurt Weill

German composer of the 20th century known for his collaborations with writer Bertolt Brecht. He wrote operas, cantata, music for plays, concert music, film and radio scores. His major works include "Mahagonny," "Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny" and "Die Dreigroschenoper." The song "The Ballad of Mack the Knife" from "Die Dreigroschenoper" became a huge hit and remains popular to this day. He died barely a month before his 50th birthday on April 3, 1950 in New York, U.S.A.

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Carl Maria von Weber

Composer, piano virtuoso, orchestrator, music critic and opera director who helped establish the German Romantic and nationalist movements. His most famous work is the opera "Der Freischütz" (The Free Shooter) which opened on June 8, 1821 in Berlin. He died at the age of 39 on June 5, 1826 in London, England due to tuberculosis.