There is no more clichéd image of the brilliant yet socially awkward composer than that of reclusive genius. But while Beethoven may have been an eccentric misanthrope who enjoyed his solitary walks in the country, he still had his drinking buddies. And while Mahler liked to lock himself up every summer in a tiny “composing hut”, most of the time he was very much the feted – and sometimes pilloried – music director about town. No, if you’re looking for composers who really thrived on social distancing, here are ten who managed to make their mark despite long periods buried away in isolation. Oh, and here’s a playlist to listen to while you’re reading!

Leo Ornstein 

Born in Ukraine in 1895, Lev (Leo) Ornstein was a child prodigy whose parents emigrated to the U.S. in 1906. Emerging as a noted, if conventional recitalist, Ornstein soon transformed into a composer of a radically different kind of music. As an avant-garde Futurist-cum-Modernist who invented the tone cluster, he appeared to revel in a brutal, dissonant sound world that shocked the critics. “I never thought I should live to...

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