British Music Composers Timeline

  • Period: 1400 to 1450


    John Dunstable was a famous composer who made both religious songs and everyday tunes. Most of his music was about religion, and his most popular piece, "Quam Puchra Es," was based on a part of the Bible called the Song of Solomon.
  • Period: 1420 to 1480

    J Hothby

    John Hothby, also called Johannes Ottobi or Johannes de Londonis, was an English music expert and composer in the Renaissance period. He traveled a lot in Europe and became well-known worldwide for his work.
  • Period: 1490 to 1545

    Henry VIII

  • Period: 1510 to 1580


    Thomas Tallis, an English composer and musician in the Reformation era, was born around 1505 and died in 1585. He started as a choirboy and later became the organist at the Benedictine priory of Dover.
  • Period: 1545 to


    William Byrd, born in London around 1539 or 1540, was an English musician during Shakespeare's time. He's famous for creating English madrigals and music for the virginal and organ, making the English keyboard style better. He passed away on July 4, 1623, in Stondon Massey, Essex, England.
  • Period: 1555 to


    Thomas Morley, born in Norwich around 1557 or 1558, was a composer and musician. He's known as the first great English madrigalist. Morley worked in different musical roles in the church, like overseeing the children's choir in Norwich Cathedral from 1583 to 1587 and later becoming an organist at St. [Incomplete Sentence] from 1589. He passed away in London in October 1602.
  • Period: 1570 to


    John Dowland, who lived around 1563 to February 20, 1626, was an English composer, lutenist, and singer from the Renaissance era. He is famous for his sad songs like "Come, heavy sleep," "Come again," "Flow my tears," "I saw my Lady weepe," "Now o now I needs must part," and "In darkness let me dwell." His instrumental music became popular again in the 20th century and is still played by lutenists and classical guitarists today.
  • Period: 1570 to


    Thomas Campion, born on February 12, 1567, in London, and passing away on March 1, 1620, was a talented English guy. He was a poet, musician, theorist, and even a doctor. Campion was known for being one of the excellent songwriters in the lively English lutenist school during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.
  • Period: 1575 to


    Thomas Tomkins, born in 1572 in Wales and passing away on June 9, 1656, was a composer during the late Tudor and early Stuart period. He was important in the English Madrigal School and was skilled in creating keyboard and consort music. Interestingly, he was also the last member of the English virginalist school.
  • Period: 1580 to


    Orlando Gibbons, born on December 25, 1583, and passing away on June 5, 1625, was an English composer and keyboard player. He was one of the last masters of the English Virginalist School and the English Madrigal School.
  • Period: to


  • Period: to


    George Frideric Handel was born on February 23, 1685, in Halle, Germany, and passed away on April 14, 1759, in London, England. He was a German composer known for his operas, oratorios, and instrumental pieces from the late Baroque era. His most famous work is the oratorio "Messiah" (1741), and he's also famous for compositions like "Water Music" (1717) and "Music for the Royal Fireworks" (1749).
  • Period: to


    Thomas Arne was born on March 12, 1710, in London, England, and he passed away on March 5, 1778, also in London. He was an English composer, famous for creating music for plays and songs.
  • Period: to

    WS Bennett

    Sir William Sterndale Bennett was born on 13 April 1816 and died on 1 February 1875. He was an English composer, pianist, conductor, and music teacher. When he was just ten years old, he joined the London Royal Academy of Music and stayed there for ten years.
  • Period: to


    Arthur Sullivan was born on May 13, 1842, in London, England, and he passed away on November 22, 1900, also in London. He was a composer who, together with W.S. Gilbert, came up with a special kind of English operetta. Gilbert's clever writing paired perfectly with Sullivan's catchy melodies and creative musical talent. Their works earned long-lasting praise worldwide.
  • Period: to


    Sir Hubert Hastings Parry, Baronet, was born on February 27, 1848, in Bournemouth, Hampshire, England, and he passed away on October 7, 1918, in Rustington, Sussex. He was a composer, writer, and teacher who had a big impact on bringing English music back to life in the late 19th century.
  • Period: to


    Sir Edward Elgar was born on June 2, 1857, in Broadheath, Worcestershire, England, and he died on February 23, 1934, in Worcester, Worcestershire. He was an English composer known for bringing English music back to life in the late 19th century. His music had bold melodies, vibrant colors, and showed great skill in handling large musical structures.
  • Period: to

    Vaughan Williams

    Ralph Vaughan Williams, born on October 12, 1872, in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, England, and passing away on August 26, 1958, in London, was a famous English composer. He started the nationalist movement in English music during the first half of the 20th century.
  • Period: to


    Sir Michael Tippett, born on January 2, 1905, in London, and passing away on January 8, 1998, was a major English composer in the 20th century.
  • Period: to


    Benjamin Britten, born on November 22, 1913, in Lowestoft, Suffolk, England, and passing away on December 4, 1976, in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, was a leading British composer of the mid-20th century. His operas were considered the best in English since Henry Purcell in the 17th century, and he was also a talented pianist and conductor.
  • Period: to

    Maxwell Davies

    Sir Peter Maxwell Davies was born on September 8, 1934, near Manchester, England, and he passed away on March 14, 2016, in Sanday, Orkney Islands, Scotland. He was an English composer, conductor, and teacher, known for his creative and influential music in the 20th century.
  • Period: to


    Harrison Birtwistle, born on July 15, 1934, in Accrington, Lancashire, England, and passing away on April 18, 2022, in Mere, Wiltshire, was a British composer. He started as a clarinetist and later turned to composition. Part of the "Manchester School," he and others from northern England embraced modernism without being confined by London traditions.
  • Period: to


    John Taverner, born around 1490 and passing away on October 18, 1545, was an important English composer and organist. His well-known works include Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas and The Western Wynde Mass, and his composition Missa Corona Spinea is also considered a masterpiece.
  • Period: to


    James MacMillan was the Composer-Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic from 2000 to 2009 and the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonie from 2009 to 2013. In spring 2014, he conducted three projects with the BBC Scottish Symphony, including their first tour to India.