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As the 20th century gave way to the 21st, many of the century’s musical trends continued to develop.

There’s no clear-cut dividing line between “20th Century Music” and “Contemporary Classical Music”, but let’s agree that “contemporary composers” are those who are currently living (or only recently deceased) and who were actively composing during the lifetime of most audience members.

So let’s take a look at some of the trends in contemporary classical music!

Individual Voices

In the Classical period, most composers used basically the same musical language. Throughout the Romantic and 20th-century periods, composers began to explore more individual languages, developing their own rules of harmony and structure.

Blurring of Genres

What’s the difference between classical music and jazz? Rock? Electronica? Many contemporary composers like exploring the grey areas between these different genres.


An increasingly significant trend in contemporary classical music is the embrace of diverse voices. Classical music has always been a conservative (lower-case C) artform, and women and people of color experienced obstacles to getting their music performed that weren’t experienced by composers who fit the expectation of a white male genius. Today’s musicians have become committed to reversing this.

The result of all these trends is that today’s audiences enjoy a concert experience that’s more varied and exciting than at any point in the history of classical music. Just take a listen to the music on our Contemporary Classical playlist, and we think you’ll agree that each of these composers has a very different voice! You may like some, and you may find it more difficult to connect with others, but there’s something here for everyone.

Discover today's classical composers with our Contemporary Classical playlist!

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