Admit it—when you hear the word “composer,” you usually think “dead as a doorknob.” Just name any composer that comes to mind, and they’re probably dead. Handel is dead. Schumann is dead. Edvard Grieg? More like Dead-vard Grieg.

But not every composer is a corpse. It turns out there’s a handful who continue to walk the Earth. I bet you had no idea any of these masters were still breathing!

Nico Muhly

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy (

Here you were thinking ol’ Nico had gone to a better place, but—you won’t believe it—the composer of Two Boys is actually sitting in his Lower East Side apartment right now picking out tomorrow’s tunic!

Thomas Adès

Photo credit: Mamiko Tsusuki (

His music may be haunting, but not him! (Meaning that Thomas Adès is not a ghost, because ghosts are dead and—contrary to what you thought—he’s alive, so since he’s not really dead he can’t actually “haunt” anybody, you see?)

Matt Aucoin

Photo credit: Stephanie Mitchell (

We all had Matt Aucoin on our “who you would have dinner with if still alive?” shortlist, until now! Matt dines daily.

Matthias Pintscher

Photo credit: The Guardian (

We all figured it had been years since he left this world behind and entered the Kingdom of Heaven, but this German gent is alive and actually teaches at The Juilliard School! Now that the word is out, a certain conservatory is going to have lots more composer applications this December… 

Lukas Ligeti

Photo credit:

Not György. György’s dead.

Missy Mazzoli

Photo credit: Stephen S. Taylor (

Yup, still here!

Franz Schubert

Photo credit: Thomas Becker (

The only unfinished business this prolific Austrian composer has is that damn symphony. Franz is alive and well and living in Alsegrund.