French Classical music composers

There are several renowned French composers of classical music, with both an enduring and an international appeal who have created some of the best loved classical music of today

One of the best know examples is Carmen, the opera by Bizet, which is as popular now as when it was written more than 100 years ago.

The 'high era' of french classical music was the middle of the 19th century, when composers such as Bizet, Berlioz and Debussy were all at their most creative and productive.

It is interesting to remember that this period of creativity among the French composers coincides with the emergence of Impressionist art, which was also developed in France.

The period from 1850 - 1910 really was a very impressive period for the development of all the arts in France, in particular the transition from the 'classical styles' to the earlier of what we now call 'modern styles', and for this 60 year period France led the world in terms of artistic development.

Popular French composers

This section provides an introduction to some of the most highly regarded french composers: a short biography of their lives, the types of classical music they composed, and some recommended listening suggestions

Berlioz, Hector (1803-1869)

Bizet, Georges (1838 - 1875)

Boulanger, Lili (1893 - 1918)

Debussy, Claude (1862 - 1918)

Ravel, Maurice (1875 - 1937)


Other French Composers worthy of investigation

  • Jacques Offenbach, who wrote operettas in the 19th century
  • Pierre Boulez and Edgard Varése, both of the 'Modern Classical' school of music and radical (at the time) composers of early modern music