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The Top 10 Most Famous Pianists Ever

Aug 5, 2008
There have been many pianists in the 500 years since the piano was invented. However, the majority of them were mediocre, some were good and a very few were absolutely stunning. Many of those who made it to this list began their musical training at a very young age which allowed them to perfect their talent early on. This article will take a look at a handful of the most amazing pianists ever.

1. Sergei Rachmaninoff. Known for having the largest hands of all the most famous pianists, Rachmaninoff was able to span up to 14 notes at a time and he made use of this ability in his compositions, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, 8 Preludes, and others.

2. Josef Hoffman. This young prodigy began performing piano concerts at the tender age of six and at 12, he was the first recorded musician, working with Thomas Edison to create the first musical recordings.

3. Ludwig Van Beethoven. This young German composer and pianist was famous for his talent on the piano and the fact that he continued to both play and compose after losing his hearing at the age of 26.

4. Vladimir Horowitz. Perhaps one of the best known pianists of the 20th century, Horowitz studied under Felix Blumenfeld and Sergei Tarnowsky. He is well known for his ability to play strong pieces creatively rather than simply banging away on the keys.

5. Fredric Chopin. Chopin is often one of the first composers that young piano students play. He was also a child prodigy, often compared to Mozart. Steeped in the world of music from a young age, he was already playing and trying to compose at the age of six.

6. Wolfgang Mozart. One of the most famous child prodigies, Mozart was playing piano at age three and by five, he had begun to compose songs which were written down by his devoted father. He went on to give concerts from a very young age.

7. Franz Liszt. A virtuoso pianist, this Hungarian began his career at a fairly young age, though little information is available during this period of his life. It is known that not only was he an excellent pianist, he could also play several other instruments, including the cello.

8. Walter Wilhelm Gieseking. Gieseking was unique in that he supposedly never practiced on a piano. Instead, he would sit for hours in complete silence, playing the songs in his mind. Mostly self-taught, the pianist would then perform the piece flawlessly.

9. Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. A more recent pianist, Michelangeli honed his talent to perfection, producing recordings that were nearly perfect even when unedited. He was notorious for randomly canceling concerts and for his intense focus on the tiny details of the music, often forgetting the big picture.

10. Alfred Cortot. Well known for his amazing recordings and variations of the likes of Chopin, Brahms, Liszt, and many other famous composers. He also added his own variations and twists to the most common of compositions, turning them into something unique and special.

Any list of the greatest pianists is going to be somewhat subjective. Each person has their own preference and there are plenty of great pianists who simply didn't fit onto this list of the top ten. However, you can be sure that the ones who did make it here are truly great pianists and definitely worth listening to when you have the chance. Many of them dedicated their lives to their music and some died while still playing and recording it.
About the Author
The Merriam School of Music is one of the most renowned piano stores in Toronto. Also offering music lessons Toronto and drum lessons Toronto to students of any age and skill level.
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