Classical music written in collaboration

In classical music, it is relatively rare for a work to be written in collaboration by multiple composers. This contrasts with popular music, where it is common for more than one person to contribute to the music for a song. Nevertheless, there are instances of collaborative classical music compositions.


The following list gives some details of classical works written by composers working collaboratively.

Opera and operetta



Concertante works

Vocal and choral

Chamber music


Piano solo

Piano four-hands

Other forms of musical collaboration

Another case of note was that of Eric Fenby, who worked as amanuensis for the blind Frederick Delius. Delius would dictate the notes and Fenby would transcribe them. While Fenby was himself a composer, these works on which he and Delius worked together were a collaboration in terms of the labour involved in writing them down, but not in terms of the musical ideas, which were entirely Delius's own.

Film scores over the years have tended to be collaborative projects in various ways, from the simple matter of orchestrators working with the sketches by the composer, to multi-composer collaborative efforts. Originally, with the studio system, composers often contributed parts of a score assigned by the head of the music department. Sometimes this was music not specific to that film for lower budget movies. In modern times, collaboration is seen in such groups as Remote Control Productions. True collaboration has also occurred, with such varied examples as Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Newman, who together composed the music for The Egyptian (1954); and Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, who wrote the music for two Batman films, Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008).


There are various cases where a later composer has transformed an existing work or group of works into a new form, but this would generally be considered an arrangement by another hand, rather than a collaboration. Examples of this would include:


There are also instances where a work was left unfinished at the composer's death, and was completed by another composer. In such cases, the later composer generally strives to ensure the finished product is as close as possible to the original composer's intentions, as revealed by their notes, rough drafts, or other evidence. One of the best known examples is the completion by Franco Alfano of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot. There may also be a case for describing Sir Edward Elgar's Symphony No. 3 as a work by both Elgar and Anthony Payne. However, these types of works cannot properly be called collaborations.


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