We asked seven of our leading maestros which underrated composer they would like to be conducting, given half a chance.

The history of music is littered with composers respected in their day but consigned to the rubbish bin after death thanks to the harsh judgement of narrow-minded critics or the timidity of concert programmers. Some, of course, might just deserve it – there are plenty who weighed in to relegate Meyerbeer to the long list of also-rans. But many others appear genuinely underappreciated or underrated.

So, what is the difference between an underrated composer and an underplayed composer? West Australian Symphony Orchestra maestro Asher Fisch offered this helpful definition: “I think Hindemith is not underrated, but he is underplayed, and that is maybe because his music doesn’t speak to a lot of people,” he explained. “I understand that. People who seek for intellect in music will like Hindemith, while people who don’t won’t, but he is not underrated. I think Busoni is underrated, because he is appreciated by neither group, though he definitely falls into the category of intellectual music.”

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s David Robertson offered this reflection on the familiar fate of many: “Essentially, the moment that a...