Playing the piano is a form of art that has been around for a long time, but few of us know what makes it truly special or what it means to practice it until mastery.
Although now there are many options available on the market, such as digital pianos, if you want to become a pianist yourself or you’ve noticed that your kid shows particular skills in this area, then read the article below to find some inspiration.
Sergei Rachmaninoff’s style is considered by many as contradictory to the time in which he lived. This is because he sought to maintain the romanticism of the 19th century into the 20th. He was known for his clean finger technique, which allowed him to maintain clarity in the knottiest passages.
His style was influenced by famous Russian composers, especially when considering his early works, but during the later parts of his career, he started expressing his own style which consisted of strong orchestral nuances and melodicism.
Being a prodigy he was a musician at the age of 4, and he already had composed a number of orchestral and piano pieces by the time he finished the conservatory in Moscow.
The great musician was known for combining elements of romanticism with the more modern-day technical aspects of a piece. This turned him into one of the best pianists of his day. His daring personality and willingness to take risks in his playing made his audiences fall in love with his music.
Being a great composer, he was also considered the best Chopin interpreter, and with a career that expanded over 8 decades, it is clear why he can be seen as one of the best musicians of the 20th century. He was fluent in 8 languages and he had an impressive memory, being capable of keeping most notes of the songs he played in his mind and playing them by memory afterward.
He had excellent mental abilities, saying that he was able to create and perform entire symphonies in his mind while having breakfast.
Born in Romania into a Jewish family, Haskil stood out as a remarkable natural talent from a young age. She was able to reproduce Mozart and Beethoven as a child before she had taken any music lessons. Due to her poor health and the WWII, her international career was delayed, but she made a name for herself with her performances of Mozart.
Highly regarded as a chamber musician she collaborated with a number of important composers of her time. She was a friend of Charlie Chaplin, who saw her as an exquisite artist with an extraordinary technique. Even Pope Francis mentioned her as one of his favorite musicians, especially when she played Mozart.
Richter is one of those musicians that showed a great fidelity to the composer’s interpretations, considering himself more of an executant. He held his performance in such high standards that, after realizing he had been playing a wrong note in Bach’s Italian Concerto for some time, he had a disclaimer printed on a CD containing a recording of the piece.
He was also known for his vast repertoire and his impressive technique that allowed him to play a vast majority of compositions to perfection. Rising to fame in Russia, Eastern Europe, and China, he continued his career touring across the whole world, especially in the USA in the 1960s.
With a lengthy career that influenced the world of pianists, Horowitz impressed audiences with his extraordinary technical abilities and his interpretations. Known for his ability to alter aspects of works by past and present composers gained him the admiration of composers and fellow pianists, although some music critics did not necessarily agree.
He was not only a great player but also a great teacher. Tutoring students like Nico Kaufmann, Byron Janis, and Gary Graffman, he was a tough teacher and he only accepted to work with those that he believed had a future in the industry.
Despite being married he came to the conclusion that he was homosexual and he tried to “treat this illness” (as those times believed of it) by taking medications, which didn’t work, of course.
Glenn Gould is still one of the most fascinating and inspiring pianists to this day. His unique way of playing had the power to change the way the world listened to the works of Bach.
The musician gained recognition as a creator, being considered much more than an interpreter. Each time he played a piece, it had a different conception, architecture, and creative approach.
He loved playing Bach and Beethoven, but he disliked most of the Romantic composers such as Chopin or Liszt. However, he didn’t limit himself to just those two composers, as he also had recordings of him playing Mozart, Brahms, or Haydn. Late-romantic and modernist composers also made their way into his repertoire.
Consistently showing the ability to merge an articulate and intelligent playing style with powerful emotion conveyed, Vladimir Ashkenazy’s repertoire is broad, including renowned names such as Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Beethoven, Liszt, Haydn, or Scriabin.
Still alive today, he can be considered one of the best pianists playing in the 21st century. In addition to being an excellent performer, he is also a skilled conductor. Something a bit unusual for a piano interpreter, he has won 5 Grammy Awards for his music.
What Martha Argerich brought to the world of music was a passionate playing style, as well as technical ability. She is widely recognized as one of the greatest pianists of the latter half of the 20th century, winning acclaim for her Prokofiev and Rachmaninoff recordings.
Playing the piano from the age of 3, she gave her first concert at the age of 8 and impressed the audience. Seen as the media as a lonely performer, she often liked to play solo pieces. Diagnosed with cancer in 1990 she has battled the disease since then and managed to eventually win the battle, fortunately.
Although he managed to fairly avoid the recording studio, Sokolov is known for his brilliant technique. He came to international prominence in the 1980s and further released CDs, mainly of live performances, featuring his wide repertoire. This includes Beethoven, Bach, and Chopin, among many others.
Being of Russian origins, he canceled tours in the United Kingdom because of the legislation there that required foreigners to provide fingerprints and eye prints. He considered these to be forms of oppression and didn’t attempt to tour the UK again.
He credits Emil Gilels as his biggest influencer, but he was also inspired by Rachmaninoff, Sofronitsky, and Glenn Gould. He has recently reduced the number of his concerto performances because he thinks there are so many pieces written for the piano and so little time to play them all.
Born in Austria, Schnabel specialized in core German composers and made the first complete recording of the Beethoven sonatas. He was committed to plumbing the intellectual and spiritual depths of a work, while avoiding displays of technical bravura. He was known for his command of structure and form which, of course, his peers could not match.
His affinity for Beethoven brought him to a rare confluence between interpreter and composer, similar to Glenn Gould’s relationship with the music of J. S. Bach. Schnabel’s playing comes very near to the composers’ own creative impulses, bringing the music close to that spark of genius which makes it a masterpiece.
Described by music critics as “the man who invented Beethoven” he was renowned for his performances over the composer’s pieces. He was not only a great player but also an excellent composer, and although he focused a lot on pieces from Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, and other such composers, his compositions were often atonal, meaning that they lacked a tonal key.
This French-born pianist is known for his commitment to contemporary music. He also recorded the first two books of Ligeti’s piano études. With a special attention paid to every note and every sound, Pierre-Laurent Aimard embraces all good music regardless of its era.
For some an example of tolerance and acceptance when it comes to music, he is the type of musician that encourages new generations to make music as well. Some describe him as a player of the utmost integrity, who never plays a note without a reason.
Born in 1957 he is one of the younger pianists on this list. That is probably a reason why he is in love with contemporary music and tends to play that more than classical music. He did not limit himself to that, however, as he also recorded the five Beethoven piano concertos.
Furthermore, he has recently got involved with conducting as well, but he wouldn’t describe himself as a talented conductor. Instead, he says he is a musician that likes to play in an ensemble and loves to hear the whole music.
The German pianist focused on the classics of German music and played concerts well into his eighties. Bringing rhythmic inventiveness into his interpretations, he found a way to bring out the lyricism, charm, and spontaneity in music, particularly when it came to more intimate passages.
Wilhelm Kempff managed to create sublime musical moments that transported audiences to magical realms, and his special personality and personal touch definitely were a key element in achieving this.
Thanks to his achievements he is still considered one of the greatest interpreters of German music, especially amongst those players that lived in the 20th century. He was not only a great performer but also a skilled teacher, taking control over Stuttgart College of Music. Kempff also created courses for others in other parts of Germany and in Italy.
Although not known especially for this skill, he also liked to compose a bit, and he wrote music for all the genres that he usually performed.
Another example of a successful Austrian pianist, Alfred Brendel is a teacher now based in London. He has recorded four complete sets of the Beethoven sonatas and is known for the rigorous adherence to the score without sounding dry or academic. He also has a knack for finding unexpected moments of humor, particularly in Classical repertoire.
Making use of his sense of humor and the ability to connect to people through various arts, he also became a poet and author. His writings often consist of essays about music and instruments, but he also likes poems, which are again based on the idea of musicality.
Still alive today, he is not performing live anymore since 2007, but he still writes and plays although not for audiences.
A well-known French pianist and professor at the Conservatoire de Paris, the musician was referred to as a “poet of the piano”, given his mastery of the lyrical works of Chopin, Debussy, and Schumann.
He produced landmark recordings, while his highly personal and subjective style favors intuition and feeling over precise technique, resulting in performances of transcendental musicality.
Being such a connoisseur of the works of Chopin, Schumann, or Debussy, he contributed to the world of music by producing printed materials for the piano works of the 3 of them. In these works, he discussed some technical issues that might appear when playing their piano music, and also gives his impression on how to interpret them.
This Odessa-born pianist moved to Moscow in 1935 and became, along with Richter, one of the leading Soviet pianists of his day. Together with violinist David Oistrakh, they were among the first Soviet musicians allowed to sustain concerts in the West.
He is known for the “golden” sound, an ability to execute the most taxing passages without compromising his tone or depth of feeling.
Being one of the biggest influencing talents in the world of thy piano, some famous other players like Sokolov credit him for his talent. His repertoire was a vast one and it ranged from baroque music to late romantic and composers of the 20th century.
During the later parts of his life, he had issues with his heart and he suffered a heart attack once and having to battle with declining health afterward.