Many are the pianists we have frequently heard on the radio or on the internet. But, despite their undeniable talent, they are sometimes not among the best pianists of all time.
The art of the piano requires a lot of work to be mastered, but once you have reached a certain skill level, you also need genius or “gift” to come into play in order to stand out. Some pianists, both past and present, shine with an aura that makes them exceptional composers and performers.
In this article, we present our selection of the 30 most famous pianists of all time.
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Frédéric Chopin is a Franco-Polish pianist born in 1810. He is today considered the greatest virtuoso pianist of the Romantic period but also the best music composer of the 19th century.
His numerous compositions are still frequently played on piano by today’s pianists, both professional and amateur.
Among his most masterful works, the Nocturnes are profoundly original for his time and made him a very well known pianist during his lifetime.
The composition Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 is the soundtrack of The Pianist movie, directed by Roman Polanski and released in 2002. This movie contributed to the composer’s fame among the general public.
Pianist movie: learn to play Frédéric Chopin's songs on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Sonya Belousova is an American pianist of Russian origin, born in 1990.
She began playing piano at the age of five and composing at the age of ten. She was soon famous for her public performances. She is considered as a child prodigy.
She has won numerous prizes and distinctions such as the Telly Award and the International Academy of Web Television Award.
Today, she composes for numerous television programs and movie works.
Sonya Belousova is today a pianist known all over the world.
Pianists fingers: learn to play Sony Belousova on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Ludwig van Beethoven is a German pianist and composer born in Bonn in 1770.
He revolutionized the art of piano writing and chamber music during his lifetime. His symphonic compositions also marked his contemporaries by their strength and intensity and remain today one of his most masterful works.
Through his numerous works that were truly original for his time, Beethoven also exerted a considerable influence on Western music throughout the 19th century.
Today Beethoven is one of the most outstanding figures in the music history and one of the most famous pianists of all time. His Für Elise remains today the most played piano piece in the world, closely followed by Pachelbel’s Canon.
Pianists classical: play Beethoven's songs on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Yann Tiersen is a French pianist-songwriter born in Brest in 1970.
After having composed several albums of great beauty but which were not a huge success, he became known worldwide by composing the soundtrack of the movie Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain in 2001.
Inspired by the waltz in 3 beats of which most of his songs are composed, Yann Tiersen’s style, very contemporary, is easily recognizable by its beauty and nostalgia.
Yann Tiersen is today one of the most famous pianists of his time and the most appreciated by the general public.
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Claude Debussy is a French composer and pianist born in 1862.
Influenced by the pianists of the previous century (such as Beethoven), he revolutionized the art of the piano by giving all his splendor to the Romantic style.
Renowned as an avant-garde pianist, he created anti-conformist compositions for his time and broke the codes of aesthetic academisms.
Today Debussy is the symbol of creative and musical freedom. His impact on the history of music has been considerable.
His most famous work today is Clair de lune, whose inclusion in the original soundtrack of the movie Twilight made a major contribution to making it known to the uninitiated.
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Radu Lupu is a famous Romanian pianist born in 1945.
He started playing piano at the age of six. He quickly became known for his virtuosity and his talent for composition during his first public performances at the age of twelve.
Radu Lupu won many highly prestigious prizes throughout his career, such as the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
He is particularly known for his numerous masterful interpretations of the works of famous 18th and 19th century pianists such as Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Pianists famous: learn Radu Lupu on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Johann Sebastian Bach is a German pianist and composer born in 1685.
Self-taught, studying with rigor the works of his predecessors, he was able to make a prominent place for himself among the pianists of his time.
The originality of his work can be seen above all in the fusion he achieved between different musical traditions of his time.
Bach did not invent a new style strictly speaking, but the synthesis he created between all these different traditions created a true innovation that is highly appreciated by both today’s pianists and his contemporaries.
Renowned for the exceptional quality of his compositions both in terms of melodic invention and harmonic science, Bach’s work is masterful.
He is today one of the best known and most performed classical pianists.
Pianists classical: learn to play Bach on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Vladimir Horowitz is an Ukrainian and Jewish pianist born in 1903.
Nicknamed “King of Kings among pianists” or “Number 1”, he is considered in his lifetime as the best pianist of his time, surpassing all others by the emotional strength of his playing but also by his technicality. The pianist’s fingers seem to fly over the piano so much that his playing is fluid and technical.
Vladimir Horowtiz remains today the highest paid pianist of all time, earning up to $500,000 per concert during the last years of his career.
He has been as famous among the circle of pianists as he has been among piano lovers and the general public.
Jewish pianists: play Vladimir Horowitz's compositions on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is a virtuoso composer and pianist born in Salzburg in 1756.
Extremely famous of his time, he bequeathed to mankind a masterful work. More than 800 works have been handed down to us today, in only 35 years of existence.
He is known for having perfected to their peak the sonata, the concerto and the symphony, three of the most famous musical repertoires of his time.
His name has now been passed on to posterity and has become synonymous with virtuosity and even musical genius. He is the most famous composer and pianist to the general public.
Play the songs of one of the most famous classical pianists Mozart on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Lang Lang is an internationally renowned Chinese pianist born in 1982.
He started playing piano at the age of two, after watching two cartoons that made him want to start.
During his childhood, he took part in many competitions in China and shines by his virtuosity. He won many of them, such as the Shenyang competition in 1987, at the age of 5.
He gradually acquired an international reputation which will reach its consecration when he played at the soccer world cup in Munich in 2006.
Through his exemplary career, he is a role model for thousands of young Chinese who are learning piano.
Lang Lang is today one of the most famous pianists in the world.
Pianists famous: learn Lang Lang on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Erik Satie is a French composer and pianist born in 1866.
This composer is today known as an unclassifiable pianist, breaking the codes of his time and considered as the precursor of several musical movements: repetitive music, surrealism or theater of the absurd.
Erik Satie’s works are imbued with great gentleness and melancholy.
He is today one of the most famous pianists of his time.
Learn the songs of one of the greatest pianists Erik Satie on La Touche Musicale.
Hélène Grimaud is a French pianist born in Aix-en-Provence in 1969.
She started playing piano at the age of seven and made her first public performance through a concert at the age of fourteen.
Noticed for her qualities as a pianist, she received several prizes and distinctions during her career, including a Victoire d’Honneur at the Victoires de la musique in 2004.
Today, Hélène Grimaud performs with the greatest ensembles, such as the Radio-France Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 2015, she was made Knight of the Legion of Honor.
She is today considered one of the best pianists of her time.
Pianists hands: learn Helene Grimaud on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Robert Schumann is a classical German pianist and composer born in 1810.
At the time when he was playing piano, the predominant movement in the piano landscape was romanticism. He thus impregnates his works with this movement and is one of its most brilliant representatives.
Robert Schumann is one of the best known pianists of his time but also one of the most illustrious today. Many pianists perform his masterpieces.
Learn Robert Schumann's compositions on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Oscar Peterson is a Canadian jazz pianist and composer, born in 1925.
After playing in groups in Montreal cabarets and participating in the soundtrack of an experimental animation project in 1949, he gained notoriety. He is notably famous for his technical prowess and his inventiveness on the melodic level.
He continued his career and performed in concerts in cities all over the world.
Today Oscar Peterson is one of the most famous and renowned jazz pianists of all time.
Jazz pianists: learn to play Oscar Peterson on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Yiruma is a South Korean pianist and composer, born in 1978.
He began playing piano at the age of five. He was soon noticed for his gift for composition and produced his first album, entitled Love Scene, in 2001.
Today, Yiruma has released more than 15 albums and is known worldwide for his compositions, culminating in River Flows in You and Kiss the Rain, which are the soundtrack of the Twilight movie.
Pianist movie: learn Yiruma's songs on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Sergei Rachmaninov is a Russian conductor, composer and pianist, born in 1873.
Inspired by several models of classical music and the romantic movement, Rachmaninov draws on the heritage of Chopin or Tchaikovsky to compose his own works.
Throughout his career, he stayed away from the musical evolutions of his time and remained firmly rooted in Romanticism.
During an arranged meeting in 1928, he befriended the pianist and composer Valdimir Horowitz, who is introduced above.
Rachmaninov leaves behind him a masterpiece and remains today very famous in the piano and musical world, especially for his famous Piano Concerto No. 2 and No. 3.
Classical pianists: play Rachmaninov on piano on La Touche Musicale app.
Arthur Rubinstein is a world-famous pianist from Poland, born in 1887.
He is notably known as the best interpreter of Chopin, and one of the best of Schumann, Brahms and Beethoven.
Refusing to remain in one musical style, Rubinstein also interprets more recent artists such as Ravel, Debussy and Lobos.
He is a highly mediatized artist, one of the most popular of his time. He gained this popularity by being very prolific. Indeed, Rubinstein is one of the pianists who has performed the most concerts throughout his career.
Today, he is considered one of the best pianists of the 20th century by critics.
Pianists fingers: play Arthur Rubinstein on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Austrian composer and pianist Franz Schubert was born in 1797 in Lichtental.
His masterly work greatly influenced his contemporaries and he remains today a major artist of frequently played piano works.
He is particularly well known for his chamber music, but his piano works and symphonies have also been highly regarded.
Schubert died at the age of 31, leaving behind him an incredible musical production of more than 1000 pieces. Most of them being published after his death, the real glory of the pianist was post-mortem.
Pianist movie: learn Franz Schubert's compositions on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Khatia Buniatishvili is a Georgian pianist born in 1989 and naturalized French since 2017.
She started playing piano at the age of three and performed for the first time in public at the age of six.
From 2002 onwards, her fame is growing more and more. She is invited to music festivals as a soloist and concertante.
In 2008, she won the prize at the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition.
Her reputation is mitigated in pianist circles: she dazzles some as she provokes the irritation of others. Indeed, her free style dynamites codes and purists criticize her violently for it.
Nevertheless, she remains one of the best pianists of her time.
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Franz Liszt is a classical pianist and composer born in 1811.
He is the father of a new piano movement: Impressionism.
He was a great innovator of art and piano codes.
The work that Liszt leaves had a considerable influence on various later musical currents and on modern music.
He is one of the most renowned pianists of the 19th century and one of the most innovative pianists of all time.
Classical pianists: learn to play Franz Liszt on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Martha Argerich is an Argentinean pianist born in 1941 and naturalized Swiss.
She was quickly propelled to the forefront of the international piano scene thanks to the innovations she brought to the Romantic and modern repertoires.
Martha Argerich is best known for her interpretations of Schumann, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Ravel and Liszt. She is considered one of the most talented pianists of her time.
Vladimir Ashkenazy is a Jewish pianist and conductor, born in 1937.
He began playing piano at the age of six and showed a great talent for music from his early years.
In 1956, he was awarded first prize at the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in Belgium.
His interpretive repertoire is particularly vast and diversified: Shostakovich, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Beethoven, …
He is retiring in 2020 and is today considered as one of the best pianists, conductors and musicians of his time.
Alfred Brendel is a very famous Austrian pianist, born in 1931.
He has a very rich repertoire and is particularly known for his piano interpretations of classical and romantic music, which are considered to be the best of his time.
He started playing piano largely self-taught, taking lessons from university professors.
After settling in London, he became a true British star in 1976, playing with the best conductors in the world.
Glenn Gould is a Canadian pianist, composer and writer, born in 1932 in Toronto.
He is best known for his masterful interpretations of Baroque music.
His analytical and very melodious style made him one of the most popular pianists of his time.
However, as early as 1964, he stopped his career as a concert pianist to devote himself exclusively to recordings.
John Ogdon is a British pianist and composer, born in 1937.
From his early years of study, he showed a certain talent for music, especially the piano.
In 1961, he won first prize in the London Liszt Competition. But it was truly when he won the prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1962 that his international fame was propelled.
Prolific composer, he has composed more than 200 songs, most of which were written for piano.
Claudio Arrau is a Chilean pianist born in 1903.
He began playing piano as a child prodigy at the age of four, and quickly became known for his interpretations of Romantic music, including Chopin, Beethoven, Schumann, Debussy, Liszt and Schubert.
Claudio Arrau was one of the most popular pianists of the 20th century.
Learn one of the famous pianists Claudio Arrau on piano on La Touche Musicale app.
Daniel Barenboim is an Argentinean and Israeli pianist and conductor, born in 1942.
He proved to be a child prodigy at a very early age. He gave his first concert as a pianist in Buenos Aires at the age of seven.
He performed all over the world from a young age (London, Paris, Tel Aviv, …) and became director of the Orchestre de Paris in 1975.
In addition to his numerous musical activities, Daniel Barenboim works for peace and diplomacy throughout the world. He founded the Barenboim and Barenboim-Saïd foundations.
Daniel Barenboim: one of the best pianists of all time.
Myra Hess is an English pianist born in 1890 in London.
She began studying piano at the age of five. At the age of twelve, she studied at the Royal Academy of Music.
In addition to the classical repertoire, she opens herself to other more surprising and new musical genres to become also a great jazz pianist.
She made her first tour of the United States and Canada in 1922.
Myra Hess is internationally recognized for her interpretations of works by Mozart, Schumann and Beethoven.
Myra Hess: one of the greatest pianists of all time.
Murray Perahia is an American pianist and conductor, born in 1947 in New York.
He began studying the piano at the age of four. But it was not until he was 15 years old that he began to play it seriously.
In 1972, he won first prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition, propelling him to the forefront of the international piano scene as a young talent.
He made a career as a concert pianist and made several important recordings of Mozart and Beethoven repertoires.
Murray Perahia is still a very popular pianist today, and continued to give a series of public performances in 2006 in Germany, where he was a resounding success.
Learn to play Murray Perahia on piano on La Touche Musicale.
Sviatoslav Richter is a Soviet pianist born in 1915.
He started playing piano at a very young age and revealed a real talent for this instrument.
He is one of the only pianists about whom there is unanimous agreement that he is one of the greatest pianists of all time.
Famous for the depth of his interpretations, his technical virtuosity as well as his mastery of a very wide and diversified repertoire, Sviatoslav Richter is today considered to be the greatest pianist of the 20th century.
Pianists fingers: learn to play Sviatoslav Richter on piano on La Touche Musicale.
This ranking of the 20 best pianists of all time was not intended to give you an exhaustive vision on the subject. It was more to give you an overview of the diversity of artists who have marked the piano world.
There are still many other talented pianists whom we have not mentioned in this article. Nevertheless, we have tried to include the most popular of them.
If you want to learn the compositions of these pianists on the piano, we invite you to try our app.
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