Amy Beach left a legacy of hugely accomplished works, but, asks Anthony Burton, did the social conventions of the era in which she was living stifle her true potential?
Whether echoing the Amazonian forest or tripping along to local songs and dances, Villa-Lobos’s music portrays his homeland’s spirit like no others.
Encouraged and championed by legendary musicians and composers, the versatile Arthur Bliss became one of the most revered figures of his generation.
Taking his inspiration from everything he discovered around him, Germany’s ultimate Romantic lavished his talents upon them, taking music into completely new territory, says Julian Haylock.
Music’s peerless scene painter, Claude Debussy often relied on his own imagination rather than first-hand experience, reflects Gerald Larner. Yet his ability to conjure up images and moods was little less than miraculous.
Was the composer as miserable as his doleful music might suggest, or was he merely reflecting the fashion for melancholy that gripped the Elizabethan age?
From childhood until his final years, Britten’s love of celebrating at Christmas time resulted in a wealth of festive works.
From humble beginnings in Armenia, and with little formal training, Aram Khachaturian went on to become one of the Soviet Union’s top composers – but success came at a price, says Daniel Jaffé.
Moody, paranoid and in later years creatively paralysed by depression, there was a dark side to Elgar that history tends to overlook.
Was Ravel’s music affected by external events and, eventually, mental illness? Absolutely not, says Gerald Larner.
Dvořák could easily have ended up a jobbing musician in some small town but his ambition and genius led him down a different path.
Why did the brilliantly crafted works of one of the greats of 19th-century French opera suddenly disappear from the repertoire?
One of the most remarkable late starters among composers, Leoš Janáček grew to full creative stature only in his mid-sixties.