Famous Piano Players of All Time


Famous Piano Players
09 May, 2024


The melodious sounds, soothing the soul and touching hearts, represent the magic that piano players bring to music lovers. There are many famous piano players of all time who have left lasting marks on listeners.

Let’s dive into their lives, contributions, achievements, and discography. The journey of renowned famous musicians inspires many generations with their artistry and iconic performances.

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Top 10 Piano Players Of All Time

Leif Ove Andsnes

Leif Ove Andsnes
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  • Born: April 7, 1970, in Karmoy, Norway
  • Awards:
    • Gramophone Classical Musical Awards
    • Hindemith Prize Frankfurt in 1987
    • Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik in 1997.
    • Gilmore Artist Award in 1998, an esteemed honor achieved by only nine pianists.
  • Recordings:
    • Piano Concertos No.2 and 4
    • Piano Concertos No.1 and 3
    • Nielsen: Piano Pieces (1996) Virgin Classics 7243 5 45129 2 6

Leif Ove Andsnes debuted in 1990 with the Cleveland Orchestra, under Neeme Järvi, in the U.S. During his childhood, he loved to play Greig’s music and was interested in playing school band and soccer. He began learning the piano at a young age and quickly gained well-known recognition.

Leif Andsnes mesmerized the audience 2002 with his performance of Grieg’s Piano Concerto during the Last Night of the Proms. He founded The Risor Festival of Chamber Music in Eastern Norway. He has received honorary doctorates from New York’s Juilliard School and Norway’s Universities of Bergen and Oslo.

Martha Argerich (1941)

Martha Argerich
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  • Born: June 5, 1941, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Awards:
    • Grammy Awards for Best Instrumental Soloist and Polar Music Prize, also known as the “Nobel Prize of Music” three times.
    • Gramophone Classical Music Awards
    • Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese Government.
    • Geneva International Music Competition
  • Recordings:
    • Chopin: Scherzo No. 3 in C sharp minor, Op. 39
    • Prokofiev: Toccata in D minor, Op. 11
    • Brahms: Rhapsody No. 2 in G minor
    • Scriabin: Prometheus (The Poem of Fire), Op. 60

At age 8, Martha Argerich embarked on her piano journey, performing in concerts and showcasing her talent to audiences playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20. She has passionately collaborated with instrumentalists, engaging in the artistry of sonatas.

Martha Argerich is known worldwide for inducing audiences through her brilliant shows and classical and contemporary music collections. She has furthered the careers of younger pianists by hosting her annual festival and serving as a jury member in international competitions. Thus, she is one of the finest and most famous piano players.

Claudio Arrau (1903-1991)

Claudio Arrau
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  • Born: February 6, in Chillan, Chile, 1903
  • Awards:
    • Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
    • Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
    • Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
    • Doctor of Music Honoris Causa
    • National Prize for Musical Arts of Chile.
  • Recordings:
    • Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas, performed three times
    • Beethoven’s five Piano Concertos were presented on three occasions.

Claudio Arrau was one of the greatest and most famous piano players in history of all time. He lost his father when he was one year old. When he was 5, he started taking piano classes. At the age of six, he gave his first public performance.

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Claudio Arrau possessed the ability to read music before he could read words, showcasing an innate talent. In 1912, he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. He died at the age of 88 in between European Concert Tours while working on recording.

Vladimir Ashkenazy (1937)

Vladimir Ashkenazy
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  • Born: 6 July, 1937, Russia, Soviet Union
  • Awards:
    • Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance
    • Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra)
    • Iceland’s Order of the Falcon
    • Gold Medal, Queen Elizabeth International Piano Competition, Brussels, Belgium
    • Sergei Rachmaninov International Award
  • Recordings:
    • 24 Preludes and Fugues of Shostakovich
    • Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier
    • Complete sonatas by Beethoven
    • Complete sonatas by Scriabin

He started playing the piano at the age of six and won prizes and awards in competitions. He graduated from The Moscow Conservatory with Lev Oborin. As a student, he was targeted by the KGB, who pressured him to act as an informant.

With his virtuosic performances and profound interpretations spanning a diverse repertoire, Ashkenazy has captivated audiences around the globe. Beyond being one of the most famous piano players, he is a creative artist who inspires many people in the musical world.

Daniel Barenboim (1942)

Daniel Barenboim
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  • Born: November 15, 1942, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Awards:
    • 7 Grammy Awards
    • An honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
    • France’s Legion of Honour as a Commander
  • Recordings:
    • The Da Ponte operas of Mozart.
    • Complete Ring Cycle
    • Mozart’s piano concertos

From a young age, Daniel Barenboim showcased exceptional piano skills, setting the stage for an illustrious musical journey. At the age of 10 in 1952, Barenboim made his international piano debut in Vienna and Rome, captivating audiences with his prodigious talent. His talent garnered international acclaim during his teenage years, establishing him as one of the most revered pianists of his era.

Daniel Barenboim founded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which Daniel Barenboim and the Palestinians established. Having occupied esteemed roles with renowned orchestras such as the Berlin State Opera and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he has connected with musicians from all times of life.

Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Ludwig van Beethoven
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  • Born: December 17, 1770, Bonn, Germany
  • Recordings:
    • Ninth Symphony, the ‘Choral’ from 1824
    • Fifth Symphony from 1808
    • Piano Sonata No. 14, 1802
    • Symphony No. 1

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German music composer and pianist. Through his music, Ludwig van Beethoven transformed emotions into melodies. He is one of the most famous players in Western music’s history. His works rank among the most performed in the classical music repertoire and span the transition from the Classical period to the Romantic era in classical music. Ludwig Beethoven’s legacy endured not through conventional accolades in the modern sense of awards, but his recognition came in admiration garnered for his musical journey.

Alfred Brendel (1931)

Alfred Brendel
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  • Born: January 5, 1931, Wiesenberg, Czechoslovakia.
  • Awards:
    • Gramophone Awards
    • Robert Schumann Prize
    • Ernst von Siemens Music Prize
    • Edison Classical Music Award
    • Grammy Awards and many more.
  • Recordings: Brendel has worked only with three recording companies.
    • Mozart Concert Aria (K505)
    • Beethoven Piano Concertos Nos 1-5
    • Beethoven: An die ferne Geliebte Schubert Schwanengesang
    • Schubert Piano Sonata No 21, etc

Alfred Brendel is a well-known Austrian pianist. He comes from a non-musical family background. Brendel debuted at 17 with a bold performance titled ‘The Fugue in Piano Literature’ in Graz.

Besides his musical achievements, Brendel is recognized as an accomplished writer and lecturer. He has published numerous books exploring various aspects of music and its interpretation, such as A Pianist’s A–Z in 2012, The Lady from Arezzo in 2019, Music, Sense and Nonsense in 2015, and more.

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Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)

Frédéric Chopin
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  • Born: March 1, 1810, Żelazowa Wola, Poland
  • Recordings:
    • 24 Preludes, Op. 28: No 3 in G Major: Vivace
    • 3 Ecossasies, Op.72 No 3
    • Mazurka No. 19 in B minor, Op 30 No. 2: Allegretto

Frédéric Chopin’s compositions are revered for their intricate melodic lines, rich harmonic textures, and deep emotional impact. He made his debut in a public concerto at the age of eight.

Frédéric Chopin was the great pianist of the Romantic era and one of the most famous piano players of all time, known for his incomparable ability to convey emotions through his compositions in the history of classical music. He earned immense respect and praise from the musicians and listeners. Unfortunately, he passed away on October 17, 1849 in Paris, France.

Glenn Gould (1932-1982)

Glenn Gould
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  • Born: Toronto, Canada, September 25, 1932
  • Awards:
    • Canadian Music Hall of Fame
    • International Classical Music Awards
    • Juno Awards, Polar Music Prize.
    • Grammy Awards for Best Album Notes – Classical
  • Recordings:
    • Berg’s Piano Sonata, Op. 1
    • Bach: The Goldberg Variations
    • Liszt’s piano transcriptions of Beethoven’s symphonies
      (beginning with the Fifth Symphony)

Glenn Gould was among the most famous piano players of all time and the most celebrated classical musicians of the 20th century. He was a pianist, broadcaster, writer, composer, conductor, and organist. Both of Glenn Gould’s parents come from musical backgrounds. When he was 10, he attended The Royal Conservatory of Music.

Glenn Gould made his first American debut in 1955. He was Celebrated for his precise performance approach and distinct interpretation of classical repertoire. On October 4, 1982,” he died due to a stroke a week before the release of his recording The Goldberg Variations”.

Myra Hess (1890-1965)

Myra Hess
An image credit example from a The Telegraph
  • Born: February 25, 1890, London
  • Awards: Honored with the prestigious appointment of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1936
  • Recordings:
    • Beethoven’s Op. 110 Sonata
    • Franck’s Variations symphoniques (with Basil Cameron)
    • Schumann’s Études symphoniques

Myra Hess, an English pianist, is one of the most famous piano players ever. Hess gained acclaim for her renditions of classical repertoire, which were lauded for flawless technique, emotive expression, and deep musical insight.

During World War II, Myra Hess made a significant impact by organizing and performing in the renowned National Gallery Concerts, showcasing her dedication to sharing music with the public and uplifting spirits during a tumultuous period.


Who is the most famous piano player?

Ludwig van Beethoven is renowned as one of the most famous piano players because of his remarkable speed and effortless mastery of extraordinary musical challenges.

Who is the fastest piano player?

Peter Bence from Hungary is known as the fastest piano player, achieving 765 hits in one minute.

Who is the king of pianists?

Louis Moreau Gottschalk was an American composer and pianist. He is known as the “King of Pianists” by Frédéric Chopin. Despite facing prejudice due to his American origin, he significantly impacted the Parisian musical scene with his debut performance at the Salle Pleyel, one of the most luxurious concert halls in the city.

Who is the most genius pianist?

Renowned for his enchanting artistry and formidable musical influence, Leif Ove Andsnes is known as the most genius pianist of his generation.

Who is the famous piano player Oscar?

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson was considered the most famous jazz pianist of all time. He was often called the “Maharaja of the Keyboard” by the Governor General of Canada.

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