a list of some famous and (probably) gay composers
We start this ride with our beloved Tchaikovsky, his sexuality being more well known, but also his story very sad. Legend (wikipedia) says that he composed his violin concerto while recovering in a resort in Switzerland from a stormy marriage with his wife. One of his composition students, Iosif Kotek, joined him, and it is probable that Kotek acted as a sort of inspiration or motivation for the violin concerto, even though Tchaikovsky didn’t dedicate it to him in order to avoid gossip about their true relationship. It is pretty certain that Tchiakovsky and Kotek were lovers at one point, as much as Tchaikovsky’s sexuality was trying to be repressed. Here’s a cute pic of the very dapper and charming Kotek and Tchaikovsky!
More openly gay we have Poulenc, who’s first committed relationship was with Richard Chanlaire, a painter. I can’t find any pictures of the two together, but Poulenc dedicated his Concert champêtre to Chanlaire, and wrote in his dedication to Chanlaire “You have changed my life, you are the sunshine of my thirty years, a reason for living and for working.”
Benjamin Britten, too was openly gay in his lifetime, but although he was subject to anti-gay laws in Britain - in 1953 he received a visit from the police and was so distressed that he suggested a “sham-marriage” to his long-time boyfriend, Peter Pears, which would be marrying a woman in order to stop being harmed because of their sexualities - he did not try to hide it and luckily more people treated him as he should have been treated than people who treated him badly. Britten and Pears’s relationship is one the most heart-warming things I can think of though, for example here’s an extract from a letter written by Britten to Pears - “My darling heart (perhaps an unfortunate phrase, but I can’t use any other) … I do love you so terribly, not only glorious you, but your singing. … What have I done to deserve such an artist and man to write for? … I love you, I love you, I love you.” Here’s a picture of the two
This brings us to Samuel Barber, and Gian Menotti, who met as students together at Curtis and then stayed on to be lifelong partners until Barber’s death in 1981. In this photo you see Barber (middle,) and Menotti (left.)
And the other person in the photo? Is America’s Aaron Copland. Copland protected his personal life, but that he had relationships with young men was not a secret. Probably the most famous of these relationship was his one with Viktor Kraft, who he first met when Kraft was 17 and Copland 32. Kraft was a prodigious student of Copland’s, and I would say that one of the most prominent events in their relationship would be when Copland accepted an invitation to go to New Mexico for 2 months and brought Kraft. They ended up staying in New Mexico for 5 months, which inspired Copland’s El Salón Mexicó. El Salón Mexicó became very successful, which influenced Copland and Kraft’s move to Manhattan together. There, Kraft stopped pursuing music and took care of the household while also becoming a respected photojournalist. From then on it’s a little bit of a mess. Copland’s fame kept on taking him out of New York and Kraft was often alone. In that time, Kraft began to have an affair with Bernstein, and later even married a female writer, Pearl Kazin. Predictably, that marriage fell apart and Kraft fell back to Copland. Throughout their rebound, Copland had multiple affairs with younger men still, which placed a lot of stress on Kraft, who eventually remarried and moved a few houses away from Copland. Then still, Kraft and Copland continued to have sexual relations with one another until Copland’s death in 1976.
Bernstein was mentioned in the relationship with Kraft and Copland a few times, and maybe considering the flamboyant-type stereotypes of gay people maybe his sexuality doesn’t come as much of a surprise. But Bernstein was one of the many gay men and women who would end up marrying the opposite sex to have a more stable reputation. Here he is with his wife, Felicia.
this is not intended to harm anyone :) i’d love to talk more on this subject also and if you know any more information/are curious about something it would be great to hear it!