1590s, "one who writes and arranges musical pieces," agent noun from compose. Used in general sense of "one who combines into a whole" from 1640s, but the music sense remains the predominant one.
"singer, composer," late 14c., from Old French chanteor (Modern French chanteur), from Latin cantorem "singer," from cantare "to sing" (from PIE root *kan- "to sing").
"writer or singer of psalms," especially in reference to David the Psalmist, c.1500 (replacing psalmistre, late 14c.), from Old French psalmiste and directly from Church Latin psalmista, from Ecclesiastical Greek psalmistēs "a composer or singer of psalms," from psalmizein "to sing psalms," from psalmos (see psalm). Related: Psalmistry.
1903, named for U.S. bandleader and composer John Philip Sousa (1854-1932).
The first sousaphone was made by C.G. Conn in 1899 expressly for Sousa's band and its bell opened directly upward. The present bell-front type was first made in 1908. ["International Cyclopedia of Music," 1939]
"master of music, great teacher or composer," 1797, from Italian maestro, literally "master," from Latin magistrum, accusative of magister "chief, head, director, teacher," contrastive adjective ("he who is greater") from magis (adv.) "more," from PIE *mag-yos-, comparative of root *meg- "great." Applied in Italian to eminent musical composers. Meaning "conductor, musical director" is short for maestro di cappella (1724), literally "master of the chapel" (compare German kapellmeister).
c. 1400, compousen, "to write" (a book), from Old French composer "put together, compound; adjust, arrange; write" a work (12c.), from com- "with, together" (see com-) + poser "to place," from Late Latin pausare "to cease, lay down" (see pause (n.)).
Meaning influenced in Old French by componere "to arrange, direct" (see composite; also see compound (v.), pose (v.)), which gradually was replaced in French by composer. Similar confusion is found in expose, oppose, repose (v.2), transpose, etc.
Meaning "to make or form by uniting two or more things" is from late 15c. Sense of "be the substance or elements of, make up" is from 1540s. Sense of "invent and put (music) into proper form" is from 1590s. From c. 1600 as "bring into a composed state, to cal, quiet;" from 1650s as "place (parts or elements) in proper form, arrange."
In painting, "combine into an arrangement with artistic effect" (1782). In printing, "put into type" (1630s), but the usual term among printers was set. Related: Composed; composing. The printers' composing room is from 1737.
1835, "system for conveying words over distance by musical notes" (devised in 1828 by French composer Jean-François Sudré (1787-1862); each tone played over several octaves represented a letter of the alphabet), from French téléphone (c. 1830), from télé- "far" (see tele-) + phōnē "sound, voice," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say." Sudré's system never proved practical. Also used of other apparatus early 19c., including "instrument similar to a foghorn for signaling from ship to ship" (1844). The electrical communication tool was first described in modern form by Philip Reis (1861); developed by Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) and so called by him from 1876.