- Anonymous. Pride of place has to go to him (or her) simply because for such a long time composers simply did not put their names on their compositions. Here, for example, is that Missa Caput I was mentioning. For a long time it was thought to be by DuFay, but it is now attributed to an anonymous English composer. Alas, there is no clip on YouTube of the original Missa Caput, so I have put up one of part of Ockeghem's mass based on the same cantus firmus. This performance is so wild and wooly you might almost think it a modern piece by Ligeti or someone!
- We do have to give a place to Antonio Vivaldi, he of the three hundred violin concertos and a couple of hundred ones for other instruments. He is most famous for the Four Seasons, so let's pick something different by him. How about the equally fine and very influential L'Estro Armonico from 1711?
3. What about that great French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau who wrote the book on harmony? I would normally pick a performance on the original instrument, but Grigory Sokolov does such an astonishing job with harpsichord music on piano that I will post him playing a suite in D major by Rameau:
4. While we are in France, we can't neglect François Couperin, le grand, so-called to distinguish him from the other talented members of the family, like Louis Couperin. Here is François' collection of chamber sonatas titled Les Nations:
5. I must not forget to include the remarkable 15th century Burgundian composer Guillaume Dufay who, among other things, invented the idea of expressing the personal sentiments of the composer in a song. So he would be the one who cleared the path for Bob Dylan. He was also the one commissioned to write the music for the consecration of the great cathedral of Florence. Here is that masterpiece of polyphony, the motet Nuper Rosarum Flores:
6. John Dowland was one of the greatest song composers in history and possibly the greatest composer for the lute as well. Here is his wrenching, nearly expressionistic song "In Darkness Let Me Dwell":
7. One of the greatest composers of all time is Domenico Scarlatti. Like Chopin, almost everything he wrote was for keyboard--harpsichord in his case. His 550 sonatas for harpsichord are undoubtedly the greatest collection of music in a single form for a single instrument ever written. To give you a real sense of the astonishing variety, here is a whole CD of the sonatas performed by Scott Ross. It's like a glass of a crisp Prosecco followed by a shot of single malt:
I'm going to top this up to an even ten composers, but I have run out of time, so that will be a later update.