Over the years, there have been so many famous piano players that it is next to impossible to determine who had the greatest influence on how the instrument is played. And with so many styles of music to make it even harder, this is a task not suited for a single book, let alone an article. However, it is possible to highlight some of the most prominent piano players of their time.
The following musicians all rank amongst the greatest of their time, and are presented in no particular order.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Technically speaking Johann Sebastian Bach was an organist rather than a piano player. This being said, he did play multiple pianos that came from the hand of Gottfried Silbermann. Though not impressed with the early instruments he crafted, Bach changed his mind when playing the later models.
Born in 1685, Bach was regarded a brilliant player, who had the ability to use fugues, while improvising.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Mozart began his career touring through Europe. On his travels he met several famous piano player, among them the son of Johan Sebastian Bach. Mozart was the son of one of the most influential music teachers. Mozart is most famous for his compositions rather than his skills on the piano. However, his compositions for the piano are thus complex that they are still being studied today.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven celebrated his first successes in Vienna, and was regarded to be the best piano player of his time. Beethoven was forced to stop performing after he became deaf in 1811. Instead Beethoven focused on writing compositions, which he created using his mind’s ear, which resulted in the well known master pieces.
No other piano player and composer has had as much influence on playing the piano then Frédéric Chopin, who was actually the very first composer to focus solely on the piano. His compositions are regarded as complex, yet beautiful, and as close to perfection as is humanly possible. As a piano player Chopin only performed randomly for select audiences only.
A good friend of Chopin, and the creator of piano recitals. Liszt revolutionized playing the piano, with unrivalled skill, capable of playing pieces on a level of difficulty never seen before. Liszt, left a legacy of more than thousand works of art, that are almost impossible to perform by the non-virtuoso.
Perhaps not immediately considered as a true piano player, as this artist also engages in singing, songwriting and other musical activities, he is a gifted piano player.
Born as William Martin Joel, this brilliant piano player started practicing at age 4, and performed his skills for the first time when he was only 14 years old, with a band that was called The Echo’s. Four years later he joined The Hassles, who brought forth two records during the end of the sixties.
His breakthrough came during the seventies and he is most known for his enormous participation in major events like Live Aid and Band Aid. His skills as a piano player brought him the nickname “piano man”
One of his most famous hits would be “Goodnight Saigon”, which dominated the charts for many weeks in 1982 .
As we stated at the beginning of this article, there are countless other famous piano players, that have made their mark on history, and the music scene in particular. The ones we mentioned here, are simply the most known for their revolutionary impact on piano playing, that resulted in many music streams, classical as well as the more popular versions of jazz, the way it is created today.
With many new piano players emerging on the scene, we will be seeing many more famous piano players in our time, further revolutionizing the way the instrument is played.