What era did they live in?
Were they original, or did they follow a trend?
Is their music considered timeless, or just a product of their time?
Were they remembered (either right away or eventually after death) or forgotten?
It's like this, really. The composers whose work survives are the ones who stood out. The ones who knew what the public wanted, yet could still exercise their creativity. It seems like times have changed; the public seems to have more options as to what they want. Pop? Got it. Hard rock? Sure. Contemporary classical? Kind of a broad description, but OK. There are no ERAS anymore. We're generally under the impression that tastes change on a dime, usually at a certain event (i.e., Bach's death or the dawn of the 20th century). BUT, every era has its leftovers, as Bach's sons continued writing what Papa taught them, Deems Taylor never moved away from Post-Romanticism, and Huey Lewis is the same old heart of rock 'n' roll.
What we as a society should do is encourage new music. Up until the 19th century, there was no arbiter to decide what was "classic", and the current was what was popular. Growing skepticism over new trends (it's YOUR opinion if it was justified) led society away from new developments and back toward mainstreaming what was already established. We need to support ALL composers, because who knows? The next Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky, Maxwell Davies, or Reich might be one of us, and we're all working hard for our place in contemporary music. Creativity must be nourished, so, when the irritating freshman in your theory class wants you to see his or her first few doodles on the staff paper, by all means, hear them out.
Because they're in OUR era
Original or not, they're affected by OUR trends
They're a product of OUR time
EVERY COMPOSER WANTS TO BE REMEMBERED.
I'm Mark Dundore, and I'm a composer.