Musical scores composed by the Greek playwright Euripides (ca. 480 BC – 406 BC) are extant. The first musician mentioned in the Bible was Yuval, a pre-Noachide descendant of Cain. Al-Kindi (801–873 CE) was the earliest Arabic theoretical musician.
Miyan Tansen (1493–1586) is considered the greatest musician in Hindustani classical tradition. Tansen was one of the nine jewels (Navaratnas) in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar. MS Subbulakshmi (1916–2004) was a legend, known as the Nightingale of India. Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (1922–2009) was one of the most accomplished classical musicians in India, admired worldwide for his mastery of the sarode. Sitar player Ravi Shankar (1920) made major contributions towards making Indian classical music popular in the West.
Hildegard von Bingen (1098–1179) was one of the earliest European musicians whose work is still played. She wrote a liturgical drama, Ordo Virtutum, and many of her liturgical songs were collected into a cycle, the Symphonia armoniae celestium revelationum.
John Dunstable (c. 1390–1453) was a late medieval and early Renaissance English composer. Thomas Tallis (c. 1505-1585) flourished as a church musician in 16th-century Tudor England. Henry Purcell (1659–1695), a uniquely English organist and Baroque composer, incorporated Italian and French elements into his secular and sacred pieces of music.
Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) was an Italian composer, and gambist whose work marked the transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque period. Italian Baroque virtuoso violinist Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (1678–1741) is considered the greatest Baroque composer, and during his lifetime, his influence was widespread in Europe.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), was a highly accomplished organist, violist, violinist and harpsichordist. He mastered Baroque style, having studied the works of Italian Baroque violinists, including Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713). Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) represented the peak of the south German organ tradition. German-born George Handel (1685–1759) moved to Great Britain after training in Italy in the violin and organ. Handel's music was well known to Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) was a Polish virtuoso pianist. Following the Russian suppression of the November 1830 Polish Uprising, he settled in Paris. Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) was known as the "Father of the Symphony and String Quartet." Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) was a prodigy on the keyboard and violin from the age of five, and performed before European royalty at an early age. At 17, he was engaged as a court musician in Salzburg, where he grew up. He composed over 600 works.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was born in Germany and moved to Vienna where he studied with Haydn, and became a virtuoso pianist. Although his hearing deteriorated, he continued playing and became a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras.
Pianist and composer Johannes Brahms (1833 –1897) spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he became a leader of the Romantic musical scene. Italian composer, violinist, virtuoso violinist and guitarist Niccolò Paganini (1782–1840) left his mark as one of the pillars of the modern violin technique.
Scott Joplin (c.1867–1917) was an American ragtime composer and pianist, dubbed the "King of Ragtime." The American jazz trumpeter and cornet player Louis Armstrong (1901–1971) was a foundational influence in jazz who shifted the focus to solo singers. American clarinetist Benny Goodman (1909–1986) was widely known as the "King of Swing." Goodman's racially integrated bands launched the careers of many major names in jazz during a time when segregation was still in force.
Elvis Presley (1935–1977) was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. Referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King," his unique performing style made him a cultural icon. John Lennon (1940 –1980) was a popular English musician who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles. Fellow band member Paul McCartney (1942-) became one of the most commercially successful songwriters in the history of popular music.
British rock star Freddie Mercury (1946–1991) was known for his powerful vocals over a four-octave range. He was born in Zanzibar and grew up in India. Michael Jackson (1958–2009) was one of the best selling pop musicians, with sales of 750 million albums, singles and compilation-albums. The Swedish popular music band Abba sold around 370 million albums, singles and compilation-albums worldwide.
One of the best-selling female pop musicians is Madonna (1979-), who has sold over 300 million albums, singles and compilation-albums. American pianist, singer and songwriter Aretha Louise Franklin (1942-) is known as the "Queen of Soul."