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Generally, a composer is a person who frequently write music. The term refers to someone who writes music in some kind of musical notation. This difference the composer from a musician.

The level of difference between composers & other musicians also varies, which affects issues such as copyright. For example, in the development of classical music in Europe, the role of composing music initially had no greater importance than the role of performing music.

The term composer is often used specifically to mean a composer in the Western tradition of classical music. However, in popular & folk music, the composer is normally called a songwriter (since the music usually takes the form of a song).


  • Alexander Borodin
    "I'm a composer in search of oblivion; and I'm always slightly ashamed to admit that I compose." (Letter to Lydia Karmalina)
  • Arthur Honegger
    "The first requirement for a composer is to be dead." ("Je suis compositeur," 1951)
  • Benjamin Britten
    "One day I will be able to relax a bit, & try and become a good composer." (Letter to Imogen Holst, 1968)
  • Claudio Monteverdi
    "The modern composer builds his works on the basis of truth." ("Fifth Book of Madrigals" 1605, Preface)
  • Frank Zappa
    "A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians." (The Real Frank Zappa Book)
  • Igor Stravinsky
    "A good composer does not borrow, he steals."
  • Ned Rorem
    "If you read reviews of concerts, the word 'creative' comes up all the time. However, performers playing music usually aren't creative. Critics might say they are, but they're just playing another persons work. They didn't create it."
  • Richard Strauss
    "I may not be a first-rate composer, but I'm a first-class second-rate composer!" (Quoted in Del Mar, Richard Strauss, 1962)
  • Richard Wagner
    "Joy is not in things, but in us."