Invented sometime around 1700, the piano quickly became one of the most popular instruments in the world. During the last few hundred years, several masters have also emerged, enthralling people with their mastery over the piano. Here are five such legendary piano players.
1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)
Arguably the single most influential pianist in history, Mozart was born in Austria and began creating music from the very young age of just 5 years old. His sister described young Mozart’s ability to play the piano as “faultless and with the greatest delicacy,” which indicates that he was probably born with an innate sense of music. Throughout his short life that spanned 35 years, Mozart composed over 600 works, many of which are considered some of the greatest classical works in the world. Some of his best compositions include “Overture” from The Marriage Of Figaro — K492, Symphony No. 41 In C — K551, and Requiem Mass In D minor – K626.
2. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 to 1827)
This German pianist ranks right up there with Mozart as one of the greatest classical composers. Just like Mozart, Beethoven’s musical talents emerged from an early age. Beethoven is specifically admired for the way he used legato as well as the singing tone he could produce. One of his contemporaries, Carl Ludwig Junker, noted that Beethoven’s playing style was so different from what others used in those times that it seemed as if he had blazed a new path in playing piano all by himself. Unfortunately, we do not have any recordings of his performances. However, he has left behind an impressive collection of works that continue to enthrall piano enthusiasts even today.
3. Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989)
Horowitz was a Russian born American composer hailed as one of the greatest musicians in America. His style was said to trigger excitement in audiences, especially when he performed Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies. One of the standout features of Horowitz is that he never mimicked the scores of great composers’ works. Instead, he altered the scores in order to make the music sound more pianistic. Well known for his excellent dynamic range, Horowitz could play the piano astonishingly fast. Some of his most popular performances were of the music by Rachmaninov, Schumann, and Chopin.
4. Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
The most famous pianist from Poland, the majority of Chopin’s works are for solo piano. Polish folk music had a great influence on his style. Much of his piano works are quite demanding technically. His performances were notable for the sensitive way of playing the instrument. “One may say that Chopin is the creator of a school of piano and a school of composition. In truth, nothing equals the lightness, the sweetness with which the composer preludes on the piano; moreover, nothing may be compared to his works full of originality, distinction, and grace,” one of his contemporaries said, according to Classic FM. Like Mozart, he died quite early at the age of just 39 due to a medical condition called pericarditis.
5. Martha Argerich (1941-present)
Born in Argentina, Argerich is considered by some as the best among piano players living today. She started playing the piano while only 3 years old and ended up performing her first piano concert around the age of 8. After she won the International Chopin Piano Competition in 1965, Argerich’s fame rose rather quickly. She is the president of the International Piano Academy Lake Como. Since she does not like much public attention, Argerich has always stayed away from the press and avoided the spotlight. Diagnosed with cancer in 1990, Argerich is currently cancer-free.