Who is the best living pianist

Top 10 pianists you should know

Style-defining top musicians on the piano

A selection of the most interesting pianists from the past and present

Feature: Top 10 Pianists You Should Know (Photo. Shutterstock | By Joaquin Corbalan P)

Who are the ten most interesting pianists of all time? This question is actually impossible to answer. Because the piano as we know it today has been around for almost 200 years. During this time there were countless keyboard players who not only played the piano fantastically, but also changed the music forever with their playing.

Since it is impossible to name all relevant musicians with such a compilation, we had to concentrate on certain aspects of a musical creation. That is why our top 10 selection does not only include pianists who play runs and scales incredibly quickly, or only the most difficult classical pieces. Technical and musical masterpieces were not necessarily decisive, because then our list would probably only contain classical and jazz pianists.

It was more about how much the artist's music, or how he plays it, has moved the music world. And yet it was still impossible to name all the important names in this context. Here are our top 10.

Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt is still considered the greatest piano virtuoso of all time. Inspired and inspired by a concert by the devil violinist Niccolo Paganini, he decided to fully sound out the piano, technically and musically, and thus to further develop the piano music beyond what was previously known. That is why his music is still one of the most difficult repertoire for classical pianists. So also his world-famous piece La Campanella. In it he processes a topic from the last sentence of the second violin concerto in B minor by Paganini. In this etude, the right hand is particularly difficult, as it contains many notes and particularly large leaps. Yevgeny Kissin shows them off masterfully in the following video.

Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson played the trumpet and piano at the tender age of five. Later, however, he fell ill with tuberculosis and had to give up the wind instrument as a result. Thus, at the age of seven, he was able to concentrate fully on the piano. What must have been a hard stroke of fate for him later made him one of the best jazz pianists of all time, who also became famous for his brilliant piano technique. One of his first teachers was the Hungarian one Pianist Paul de Markywho played the piano at Liszt student Istvan Thoman had learned. His solo piano pieces in particular are an absolute sensation, because he often lets his fingers fly over the entire keyboard, just as he had learned from his teacher.

Elton John

Elton John is a superlative musician. Since 1969 he has released 33 albums and released countless singles in which the piano almost always plays the leading role alongside his singing. And the list of his hit songs is almost as long: Candle in the wind, Don't let the sun go down on me, Can you feel the love tonight or Circle of lifeto name a few. In total, he has sold around 400 million records. However, it is in our top 10 because it has also shaped a special type of piano playing. His chordal rock piano playing had a major influence on the music that followed. In his legendary MTV Unplugged he shows what he can do on the piano.

Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett was considered a child prodigy from an early age, at the latest when he stood on a stage for the first time at the age of just seven. At first he studied exclusively classical music, even the famous Pianist Nadia Boulanger offered herself as a teacher. However, Jarrett declined because he was already interested in a completely different style, namely jazz. After studying at Berklee College of Music, he started his career as a jazz pianist. He played among other things with Art Blakey, Charlie Haden and Miles Davis. One of his earlier recordings, that Cologne Concert, is nowadays the best-selling jazz record of all time, although Jarrett himself disdains this concert from today's perspective, because it no longer meets his current standards. His interpretations of the classic are legendary Somewhere over the rainbow

Yann Tiersen

Even almost 20 years after the great success of the film 'The fabulous world of Amelie ' the spell of the film and the soundtracks of the same name is unbroken. This comes from the French composer Yann Tiersen. His music combines French folk music with chanson and musette elements and thus not only sounds typically French, but also always slightly melancholy, but still positive. In addition, his pieces are not composed in a complex manner and are therefore difficult to play. His music convinces with simplicity and a lot of feeling. That is why his pieces are still played very often by piano students around the world. And that's not surprising either, because the Frenchman's music just sounds great. It is definitely worth a place on our list of the most interesting pianists.

Glenn Gould

The classical pianist Glenn Gould was special through and through. So you usually saw him in summer with his winter coat, hat and gloves. Until the end of his life he always played the same grand piano, whose pricked 'Eb' squeaked and can be heard on every one of his recordings. Even so, he did not allow any piano tuner to solve the problem for fear that it would also change the feel of the instrument. And his musical lectures mostly polarized. So it came about B. 1962 to a concert with the Conductor Leonard Bernstein, before the beginning of which he explains to the audience that he himself does not agree with the following interpretation of Gould's. The latter is still called by many today the best Bach interpreter honored at all times.

Jordan Rudess

As Jordan Rudess was in elementary school, one day his mother got a call from his class teacher. She wanted to praise little Jordan for his excellent piano playing, which he had demonstrated in school. However, the Rudess family had never owned a piano, nor had Jordan received piano lessons. At the age of nine he then took his preparatory course at the prestigious Juilliard Conservatory where he studied classical piano for many years. Later he also immersed himself in the world of synthesizers and electronic keyboards and collaborations with various rock musicians such as David Bowie and Rod Morgenstein followed. Since 1999 he has also been a permanent member of the progressive metal band Dream Theater ‘and best known for its fast runs, passionate play and wild solos.

Ludovico Einaudi

Also Ludovico Einaudi is known for his calm and soulful piano music. And most of the time his pieces are not that difficult either, but they just sound excellent. That is why his music is only too popular with piano students. The Italian composer learned to play the piano from his mother as a child and later even studied at Verdi Conservatory in Milan. Today he is considered one of the most important representatives of the so-called neo-classical music and prefers to describe himself as a musical minimalist. The tonal influences of Ryuichi Sakamoto, Philip Glass, Didier Squiban or Erik Satie can be heard clearly in his music. And although Einaudi has had a huge following since his first solo album in 1996, he gained a lot through his soundtrack to the film ,Pretty much best friends' even greater awareness.

Jacob Collier

Quincy Jones Has Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson discovered. Jacob Collier he still describes it as the greatest talent he has ever come across. For some time now, Jones has been managing the young Briton, who has made a name for himself with his very own conception of jazz music. He got his four Grammys for songs in which his voice plays the main role, but the multi-instrumentalist is a master of many other instruments as well as the piano, which, by the way, he taught himself. Jacob's skill in mixing timbres and the associated creation of moods and feelings is unparalleled, even on the piano. The following video, recorded for WDR, is already five years old, but clearly shows what the then 21-year-old is capable of.

Peter Bence

Peter Bence is a young pianist from Hungary, who is particularly fond of cover versions of famous hits such as'Africa‘From Toto or 'Don't stop me now‘Made famous by Queen. He is on our list because he thinks outside the box with his videos and live performances and thus promotes piano music. He regularly uses a looper, with the help of which you can record a short piece of music and then play it back immediately afterwards. In this way, a single musician can create entire pieces with melody, accompaniment, bass and rhythm. And that's exactly what Peter Bence does, but he doesn't just use the piano keys. The body of the instrument is also used as a drum kit for the rhythm.

Closing word

These were our top 10 pianists, a tiny excerpt from a huge number of really great artists who have contributed a lot to change and shape our music, whereby there will never be a standstill here, because ideas and creativity never will go out.

Have fun playing the piano by yourself!

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