Who’re the most effective classical pianists of all time? We’ve mentioned and debated and compiled our record of the best pianists that includes legendary virtuosos, together with Sergei Rachmaninov, Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubenstein, and in the present day’s dazzling younger stars, together with Lang Lang, Yuja Wang and Benjamin Grosvenor. Tell us if we’ve missed your favorite within the feedback part beneath.
Greatest Classical Pianists: High 25 Best All Time
25: Yuja Wang (b.1987)
Born in Beijing, the Chinese language pianist Yuja Wang studied on the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and has constructed a stratospheric worldwide profession on an typically astounding and very versatile method to pianistic virtuosity. Her breakthrough second arrived when, aged 20, she changed Martha Argerich at brief discover in Boston. Her taking part in impresses with its brilliance, vigour, projection, lightness and exactitude; in the present day she is widely known from Beethoven solo sonatas to chamber music (she has carried out and recorded in glorious partnership with the clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer). In 2019 she was the soloist for the world premiere of a fiendish new piano concerto by John Adams entitled Should The Satan Have All The Good Tunes?
24: Lang Lang (b.1982)
After a tough early childhood as a piano prodigy (his story is instructed in his autobiography Taking part in With Flying Keys), the Chinese language megastar Lang Lang studied in America on the Curtis Institute and was internationally well-known by the age of 17. He has all the time been celebrated for his uniquely communicative method to the piano and his unquenchable virtuosity. His embrace of fashionable tradition and style has helped him to achieve youthful audiences past core classical followers; and through the years he has devoted a lot time and vitality to encouraging younger individuals worldwide to review the piano, notably beginning the Lang Lang International Music Foundation to assist music schooling. The so-called ‘Lang Lang impact’ has reportedly impressed tens of millions of kids to take up the piano.
23: Benjamin Grosvenor (b.1992)
Grosvenor, from Southend-on-Sea, reached the ultimate of the 2004 BBC Younger Musician of the 12 months Competitors as a unprecedented youngster prodigy aged simply 11. At present he’s forging a world profession, reaching rave opinions world wide for his mix of brilliance, sensitivity, humour, perception and fantastic thing about tone – a vibrant cocktail that usually finds him in comparison with the good pianists of the golden age. In 2011 he grew to become the youngest soloist ever to have carried out on the First Night time of the Proms. Together with his fondness for uncommon and uncared for high-quality piano music, he typically champions works by such composers as Medtner, Kapustin and Moszkowski, alongside the usual repertoire.
22: Daniil Trifonov (b.1991)
In 2010-11 this dazzling younger Russian pianist hit the headlines with a double triumph, profitable the Tchaikovsky Competitors in Moscow and the Arthur Rubinstein Competitors in Tel Aviv inside weeks of one another. His exceptional musicianship has since gained him a worldwide following. His interpretations are vividly imagined, immensely delicate and thrilling of their vitality, placing him probably in step with the best of his forerunners: these qualities are proven to magnificent impact in repertoire resembling Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes, the music of Chopin and that of Rachmaninov, Prokofiev and Scriabin. Trifonov, one of many biggest pianists, can also be a composer and has carried out his personal piano concerto to a lot acclaim.
21: Evgeny Kissin (b.1971)
Starting his profession as a toddler prodigy, Kissin surprised audiences each in his native Russia and within the West when, on the age of 12, he performed and recorded the Chopin piano concertos with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. Since then he has loved a remarkably seamless and constant profession on the very prime of the pianistic tree. Amongst notable moments, he gave the first-ever solo recital on the BBC Promenade Concert events in London in 1997. He has additionally printed numerous participating compositions for piano and for string quartet, given recitations of poetry in Russian and Yiddish and written a quantity of Yiddish tales, poems and translations. His pianism is notable for its poetic circulate, its depth of tone high quality and its sheer conceptual scale.
20: Alfred Brendel (b.1931)
Brendel, probably the greatest classical pianists, rose to fame steadily, his breakthrough arriving in a recital of Beethoven on the Queen Elizabeth Corridor. Whereas he has been primarily related to Beethoven ever since, his repertoire extends from Bach to Schoenberg and his eager mind and prepared wit have discovered retailers in his distinctive approaches to such composers as Haydn, Liszt and the Lieder repertoire, by which he labored steadily with the late Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. He’s additionally a famous writer of books on music and several other volumes of poetry. Though Brendel has formally retired from live performance life, he’s nonetheless a well-recognized determine on stage, giving lectures on Schubert and Beethoven, amongst others.
19: Mitsuko Uchida (b.1948)
The kid prodigy daughter of a Japanese diplomat, Uchida grew up largely in Vienna, the place she gave her first recital aged 14. She has remained principally related to the Viennese classics, famend for her performances and recordings of Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven, in addition to the works of the Second Viennese College’s Schoenberg, Berg and Webern – plus Schumann, Debussy and extra. A extremely expressive but finely managed performer, with a vibrant immediacy of contact and the capability to create enveloping atmospheres in only a few notes, she has been showered with honours together with the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society and, in 2009, a DBE.
18: Daniel Barenboim (b.1942)
Barenboim has all the time run his two careers as conductor and pianist concurrently, his experience in every feeding into the opposite. His first piano instructor in his native Buenos Aires was his father, and he made his public debut aged seven. By 26 he had recorded the whole Beethoven sonatas. On the piano his musicianship is infused with the identical mental rigour, really feel for color and communicative identification of emotion and sound that one finds in his conducting. His performances of collection resembling the whole Beethoven or Schubert piano sonatas and his conducting of Wagner’s Ring Cycle have proved historic events through the years.
17: Murray Perahia (b.1947)
Perahia, one of many biggest pianists, was born within the Bronx and gained the Leeds Worldwide Piano Competitors in 1972. His influences vary from the twilit, poetic taking part in of his chief pianist mentor, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, to the dynamism of Horowitz, to whom he performed on many events; he remembers that Horowitz instructed him: “If you wish to be greater than a virtuoso, first be a virtuoso”. An extra essential affect is Heinrich Schenker’s system of musical evaluation, which Perahia applies to each the music he performs and his masterclass instructing, typically with inspiring outcomes. In the end, although, it’s his poetic high quality that has gained him the general public’s hearts: his lightness of contact, the sweetness and intimacy of his tone and his unfailingly wise and delicate outlook. Not too long ago he has been getting ready a collection of recent editions of the Beethoven piano sonatas for Urtext Henle.
16: András Schiff (b.1953)
Schiff, probably the greatest classical pianists, has a particular ‘grand grasp’ standing amongst in the present day’s main pianists. Born in Budapest, the son of Holocaust survivors, he skilled on the Franz Liszt Academy; he additionally studied within the UK with George Malcolm, a significant affect on his taking part in of Bach, the composer with whom he has all the time been most related. Blessed with extraordinary stamina and reminiscence, he has a hearty urge for food for presenting full musical cycles, and has through the years carried out the entire of Bach’s Clavierübung, all of the Schubert sonatas, the chamber music of Brahms, a Bartók and Haydn collection and the 32 Beethoven sonatas. Schiff has a uncommon purity of sound, a singing, ethereal tone that’s immediately recognisable and a large repertoire that extends to the current day; lately he has additionally recorded on the fortepiano.
15: Krystian Zimerman (b.1956)
When in 1975 he grew to become the youngest pianist to have but gained the Chopin Competitors in Warsaw, and the primary Pole in lots of a yr, Zimerman shot straight to worldwide fame: he swept the board along with his particular mix of refulgent tone, consideration to element, supreme management and overwhelming depth of emotion. He offers a restricted variety of live shows annually and has made comparatively few recordings, although his present ones stay catalogue favourites and sometimes benchmarks. In 1988 he gave the world premiere of Lutosławski’s fiendishly advanced Piano Concerto, which was written for him, and has since recorded it twice. His most up-to-date recordings embody Schubert’s two closing sonatas and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Nervousness’.
14: Martha Argerich (b.1941)
The extraordinary Martha Argerich, one of many biggest pianists, was born in Buenos Aires and made her debut aged eight, reaching worldwide acclaim after profitable the Chopin Competitors in Warsaw in 1965. She brings a fiery vitality and deep sense of perspective to the items she performs; her virtuosity is unstinting, however it’s her freshness and sheer ardour for music that actually units her aside. Argerich has one thing of a fame for cancelling live shows, however has not been with out her justifiable share of well being points, having been handled for a melanoma in 1990. Regardless of her basic solo recordings, she now eschews recitals in favour of concertos and chamber music, preferring to share the stage with mates.
13: Grigory Sokolov (b.1950)
Inheritor to the good Russian pianists of the Soviet period, particularly Gilels, Sokolov’s rise to fame has been prolonged but profound. He gained the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competitors in Moscow aged solely 16, however his profession was gradual to attain recognition exterior the us as for a few years he was not permitted to journey. Now he has acquired a cult following and is regarded by his followers as in the present day’s biggest pianist. He has a kaleidoscopic number of each repertoire and sonic creativeness, with the power to transfigure music from Couperin to Prokofiev and past with a superhuman high quality – exceptionally delicate and clear at one excessive and, on the different, positively titanic. Most of his recordings are from dwell performances.
12: Radu Lupu (b. 1945)
Born in Romania in 1945, Radu Lupu is admired for interpretations of nice knowledge, magnificence and quietude. A pupil of the famend pedagogue Heinrich Neuhaus in Moscow, he first got here to prominence within the late 1960s, profitable three prestigious contests inside three years, culminating within the Leeds Worldwide Piano Competitors in 1969. His recordings for Decca present him shining within the heartlands of his repertoire, the Austro-German classics resembling Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert and Schumann. An elusive character who avoids publicity, he’s thought to be one thing of a maverick genius. He has not too long ago retired from the live performance platform.
11: Clara Haskil (1895-1960)
A pianist of immense heat and unfailing inspiration, Clara Haskil, probably the greatest classical pianists, had a tough life certainly. She was born in Bucharest and skilled in Paris, the place she gained the Conservatoire’s premier prix aged 15. However her early profession was blighted by progressive scoliosis of the backbone; she was steadily unwell and desperately nervous as a performer. Her reputation solely started to construct in earnest after World Conflict II. She was significantly celebrated for the Viennese classics, most of all Mozart. Charlie Chaplin, a good friend, as soon as declared: “In my lifetime I’ve met three geniuses; Professor Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Clara Haskil. I’m not a skilled musician however I can solely say that her contact was beautiful, her expression fantastic, and her approach extraordinary.”
10: Myra Hess (1890-1965)
Dame Myra Hess grew to become the doyenne of British pianists – and moreover a nationwide heroine when she spearheaded a collection of each day lunchtime live shows within the Nationwide Gallery throughout World Conflict II. Her recognition was robust within the US, too; she visited the nation round 40 instances, all the time by ship. Skilled in London with Tobias Mathay, Hess was ferociously clever and decided, buying a fame for absolute seriousness of function, a wealthy and clear tone and a deep-thinking, beneficiant and non secular method to music from Bach to late Brahms. Regardless of her considerably austere outward picture (she all the time wore black for her live shows), she possessed a razor-sharp wit, revealed in recorded interviews with the late John Amis and others. Her recorded legacy will not be significantly giant, as she disliked the method, however what there’s is cherished by her admirers.
9: Glenn Gould (1932-1982)
Few pianists have ever achieved such a cult following because the elusive Canadian Glenn Gould, one of many biggest pianists. His extraordinary if quirky intelligence and creativeness led him in uncommon instructions: after a formidable begin to his performing profession, he withdrew from the live performance platform solely and devoted himself to recording. Whereas different artists would possibly miss the results of adrenaline away from a dwell viewers, Gould noticed the recording studio as one of the best ways to use his musical perfectionism. Famed for his hypochondria, his low seat on the piano and his eclectic brilliance of thought, his fascinating character has attracted consideration from quite a few totally different film-makers. Although his repertoire was large, as was the amount of his recordings, it’s for his Bach taking part in that he’s greatest remembered in the present day.
eight: Emil Gilels (1916-1985)
Gilels’ particular sound was all his personal, deep and nearly orchestral in its vary and richness. His fame started to rise when he gained the Ysaÿe Worldwide Competition’s Queen Elisabeth Competitors in Brussels in 1938, however quickly his profession plans needed to be placed on maintain as a result of outbreak of conflict. Through the years of hostilities he gave the world premiere of Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. eight in Moscow in 1944. It was solely in 1955 that he was in a position to make his US debut, turning into one of many first Soviet artists permitted to journey to the west. His repertoire was much less diversified than his compatriot Richter’s, centring on the Viennese classics. Though he was commemorated for his taking part in of Brahms and Beethoven, certainly one of his most celebrated recordings was of Grieg’s Lyric Items.
7: Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950)
The demise of Dinu Lipatti on the age of solely 33 robbed the world of certainly one of its best-loved classical pianists. His taking part in displayed a profound sense of affection for the music, a pure, targeted, easy magnificence which lets the works shine out unencumbered. Lipatti was born right into a musical household in Bucharest; the good George Enescu was his godfather and he studied with Cortot, amongst others. Hampered first by the outbreak of World Conflict II after which by the sickness that was to kill him, Hodgkin’s illness, Lipatti solid a brief profession of about 15 years. Too unwell in his final recital to play the ultimate Chopin waltz, he changed it with Myra Hess’s transcription of Bach’s ‘Jesu, Pleasure Of Man’s Wanting’.
6: Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997)
Richter’s repertoire was huge and he supplied interpretations to match: magnificent conceptions on an epic scale, with a concentrate on absolute constancy to the composers’ intentions. He as soon as mentioned that he seen the interpreter as actually an executant, finishing up the composer’s intentions to the letter: “He doesn’t add something that isn’t already within the work. If he’s gifted, he permits us to glimpse the reality of the work that’s in itself a factor of genius and that’s mirrored in him. He shouldn’t dominate the music, however ought to dissolve into it.” Richter didn’t go away the us, however toured frequently within the west. His legacy contains an infinite discography, a lot of it from dwell performances.
5: Alfred Cortot (1877-1962)
Cortot, one of many biggest pianists, possessed one of the stunning, clear, singing tones of any classical pianist on report. Poetry appears embedded within the very sound of his freely eloquent model. The Swiss-born pianist’s sense of drama and narrative was maybe heightened by his expertise as a conductor and operatic repetiteur, not least at Cosima Wagner’s Bayreuth; and he performed the Paris premiere of Götterdämmerung. He was well-known, too, for his superlative piano trio with Jacques Thibaud (violin) and Pablo Casals (cello); and, maybe paradoxically, for plentiful fallacious notes (he apparently disliked practising!). His interpretations, although, attain a peak and breadth of expression that is still legendary.
four: Artur Schnabel (1882-1951)
Born in what’s now Poland and raised in Vienna, Schnabel was a pupil of the good piano pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky. He established a top-level profession as soloist and chamber musicians and from 1925 was a sought-after professor of piano in Berlin till he was pressured to flee the Nazi regime in 1933, shifting first to America and far later to Switzerland. His taking part in options a perfect steadiness of mind and feeling, rigour and aptitude, and he’s most celebrated for his interpretations of the Viennese classics. He was the primary artist to report the whole cycle of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas.
three: Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982)
Rubinstein’s zest for all times and irresistible attraction permeated his music-making. Born in Poland, he was a gifted youngster, making his debut at seven and far inspired by the violinist Joseph Joachim, good friend to Brahms and Schumann. He spent World Conflict I in London and moved to America shortly earlier than World Conflict II. Having relied on pure expertise for many of his youth, he determined to reinvent his approach with a interval of intensive follow in 1932. His Chopin taking part in is commonly thought to be unparalleled, and works written for him included a few of Szymanowski’s piano music, Manuel de Falla’s Fantasia Bética and Stravinsky’s Trois Mouvements De Petrouchka (transcribed from the ballet rating). His recordings bear witness to his distinctive vitality and uncomplicated, direct and real method to music-making.
2: Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989)
There was just one Horowitz: a pianist with a positively Himalayan vary of expression, a virtuoso aptitude and a feverish visionary high quality in contrast to any earlier than or since. Born in Kiev, Horowitz left the us in 1925 to review with Artur Schnabel in Berlin, however by no means returned. His US debut in 1928 propelled him straight to worldwide stardom. Troubled by private crises and allegedly episodes of dependancy to anti-depressants and different substances, Horowitz had his ups and downs, and underwent electrical shock remedy for melancholy within the 1940s. Few who encountered him and his taking part in might emerge unmoved or, certainly, unshaken by his towering artistry.
1: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
Thought-about by many the best pianist of all of them, Rachmaninov was at the beginning a composer, hailed in Russia because the pure successor to Tchaikovsky, who championed him. However after fleeing the Revolution of 1917 he settled in Switzerland and later the US, making his dwelling as a touring pianist, by which capability he was in immense demand. His recordings are peerless examples of beautiful tone, poised musicality and deep wellsprings of feeling. His performances of his personal works present that they’re much maligned by interpreters who crash and emote by means of them; his interpretations, against this, are cool and managed.
Really helpful Recording
Piano Masters In Berlin
This 8CD field set options legendary pianists performing nice piano concertos accompanied by Berlin’s world-famous orchestras: the Berlin Philharmonic and the Staatskapelle Berlin.
“[Argerich’] dwell recording with the BPO and Claudio Abbado surpass[es] even [her] earlier and legendary performances. Argerich has by no means sounded on higher phrases with the piano, extra virtuoso but engagingly human. Lyrical and insinuating, to a level her efficiency appears to be manufactured from the tumultuous parts themselves, of fireside and ice, rain and sunshine..” famous Gramophone on Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 (Argerich, Abbado).
Piano Masters In Berlin can be bought here.