Famous Pianists in History

Written by Christina Morrison in Music
Viewed by 74 readers since 08-12-2009

Since its creation around the eighteenth century, the piano has been one of the most popular instruments for composers and musicians. There have been hundreds of fantastic pianists throughout history. Below is a compilation of some of the most popular pianists since the 1700s.

Please note that this compilation is subject to opinion and there are many more notable pianists.

Austrian composer Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was nicknamed the “father of the symphony” and “the father of the string quartet.” He was quite popular while alive, and was close friends with fellow composer Wolfgang Mozart.

Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791) was a prolific Austrian composer and pianist during the classical era. During his lifetime, Mozart composed pieces for every musical genre and was well known for his range of expression.

German pianist and composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) studied music with Joseph Haydn and continued to compose after losing his hearing. Beethoven created a considerable amount of compositions for piano and piano accompaniments, including thirty-two sonatas.

Franz Liszt (1811-1886), a pianist and composer from Hungary, created some of the most technically difficult piano pieces in history. Liszt also created the term symphonic poem for orchestra pieces that did not follow traditional forms.

Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) wrote some of the most well-known classical music in history. His work includes Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

African-American composer and bandleader Duke Ellington (1899-1974) was also known for his piano skills. He has been called “one of the most influential figures in jazz music.”

Bill Evans (1929-1980) has been called “one of the most influential American jazz pianists in the 20th century.”

Ray Charles (1930-2004) was a blind African-American musician and pianist. He is listed at number ten of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and number two on its “100 greatest singers of all time.”

African-American singer-songwriter and pianist Little Richard (1932-present) was born Richard Wayne Penniman. He has been called a key figure in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the 1950s.

Chick Corea (1941-present) is an American jazz pianist, composer, and drummer known for his work in jazz fusion, a mixture of jazz, funk, R&B, and rock. In the 1960s, Corea was part of Miles Davis’ band.

Paul McCartney (1942-present) is probably best known for his time in the British band the Beatles. He is one of the most successful musicians and composers in the history of popular music. A poet, singer, and songwriter, McCartney wrote the most-covered song in modern music: “Yesterday.”

British pianist Sir Elton John (1947-present) is one of the most successful artists of all time. He has had more than 50 top 40 hits and won an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Tony Award, and five Grammys.

Billy Joel (1949-present) is an American rock musician, pianist, and singer-songwriter. He is probably best known for his 1973 hit “Piano Man.”

Blind from birth, Stevland Hardaway Judkins is better known as Stevie Wonder (1950-present). He is an African-American pianist and singer. He plays a variety of instruments, and is probably best known for his song “Superstition.”


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