The least remembered giant of the piano

Name the ten foremost pianists of the 20th century.

In no particular order:

Horowitz

Rubinstein

Richter

Gilels

Gould

Schnabel

Rachmaninov

Brendel

Argerich

Ashkenazy…

 

So who have we forgotten?

Him.

How could we?

 

Happily, his record label has just remembered. See special offer in Slipped Disc banner ads.

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  • Andy says:

    I would have put Arrau in there straight away. I think a lot of people would have. Usually when I see pianists interviewed about who their ‘favourite’ pianists were, or who influenced them the most, Arrau comes up within the first 3 or 4 names. I don’t think he’s been forgotten

  • Herbert Glockner says:

    Wilhelm Kempff

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Arrau was an unusually fearless musician who looked after new works even in his old days. When he died in his 90’s he was studying Boulez’s 3rd Sonata (nobody warned him, or he ignored such warnings…). Anyway Pollini, Michelangeli, and Serkin would come before anyone else in “my” list (just a personal choice, of course).

    • Andy says:

      Everyone would have their own personal choices I imagine. I wonder what would happen if you asked 100, or 200, or 500 people, to do a list, and then aggregated for the 10 that appeared ‘most often’. I’d imagine it would be close to the 10 that Norman mentions.

  • CYM says:

    Unnecessary game of ratings or names throwing.
    There are many, many more pianists to add to that limited 11 initial list.
    I would continue with Rachmaninov, Samson Francois, Lipatti, Cortot, Zimmerman, Michelangeli, De Larrocha, and, and, and, and …

  • Sue says:

    I would not have put Gould anywhere near that list!!

  • Hugh Morton says:

    And of course Jorge Bolet

  • Dominic Stafford says:

    Sigh. Musicians don’t ‘rank’ other musicians. It’s pointless and antithetical to art.

    • Nannerl says:

      So right. Once you let go of the notion of ‘the best’ you can listen to so much more, hear more. The criterion of best seems to favour the eccentric – where pianists like Emanuel Ax, for example, can offer a much closer experience of the music.

  • Kelvin Grout says:

    Solomon and Ogden! If you are talking about pianists who didn’t play the standard solo rep, but really understood the beauty of the instrument, I would include Gerald Moore.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Dinu Lipatti

    • buxtehude says:

      Agree in all-caps, plus Annie Fischer and Clara Haskil, two angels. Clifford Curzon, listen to his Brahms F minor piano sonata, unsurpassed; he’s especially been forgotten.

      A top ten is impossible in something like this

      • buxtehude says:

        David Boxwell below, beat me to it with the ladies.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Indeed.
        A smaller might be feasible if we judged by both artistry and legacy. So great performers who not just great soloists, but also great pedagogues, mentors or chamber musicians. So by that criterion Schnabel, Serkin, Curzon, Fleischer, Argerich would make the cut, but not necessarily Arrau or Lipatti.

        Off topic: your blog name is the same as that of my female cat.

        • buxtehude says:

          Actually I’m a dog, but do say hello for me anyway.

          The internet is not an unmixed blessing but for me it’s meant liberation.

      • Nannerl says:

        Clara Haskil absolutely and forever. Immortal.

  • John says:

    Although not my favourite pianist, Kissin would trump Asheknazy every time.

  • Rob says:

    William Kapell !!!!!

    Argerich, you sure about that?

    I would put William Kapell streets ahead of her.

  • Dr Presume says:

    Petri.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Lhevinne, Hofmann, Rachmaninov, Lipatti, deLarrocha, Hess, Wild, Bachauer etc. There should never be a list. There is a long list of those who studied with the Lhevinnes, Vengerova, Curcio and more.

    • Meal says:

      I share your and Dominic Stafford’s opinion that there should never be such a list. But: Maybe you agree that a list of almost forgotten pianists to remember is a valuable approach. I have to admit that I did not came across Myra Hess until you mentioned her. I will start exploring her recordings this evening. I am sure I will have fun. I would nominate Tatjana Nikolajewa for the list of almost forgotten pianists to remember.

    • Nick2 says:

      I am delighted Jeffrey Biegel (and later Madeline) adds Earl Wild. He was a phenomenal pianist. I was fortunate to attend several concerto performances and a stunning Liszt/Chopin recital that remains the best I have ever heard in that repertoire, bar none. No doubt his relatively infrequent appearances in Europe keep him off most lists.

      Another virtuoso missed is Shura Cherkassky. In the early 1980s, Harold Schoenberg wrote a long article in the New York Times bemoaning the dying art of the virtuoso pianist of which only three remained, he claimed – Horowitz, Wild and Cherkassky.

      • Mark Mortimer says:

        Yes Nick- I agree Earl wild- a great pianist & little rated outside the US. But everyone’s forgotten Georges Cziffra- arguably one of the greatest keyboardists in history- let alone the 20th Century.

    • buxtehude says:

      Jeffrey you’re the only one to mention Josef Hofmann!

      He hated recording and held off until it was too late I guess but there’s some Chopin from 1937 & 1938 including the concerti. Awesome.

  • Milton Ribeiro says:

    Pollini is the best.

  • Rob says:

    Somebody forgot Busoni and Prokofiev and Bax was an amazing sight reader.

  • Joseph says:

    Some names that haven’t been mentioned in the comments yet: Murray Perahia, Radu Lupu and Aldo Ciccolini.

    Even though this list is rather “soloist” heavy, I think we should also mention the likes of remarkable pianists like Gerald Moore, Graham Johnson and Menahem Pressler for starters.

  • Gramophone says:

    Nobody mentioned Walter Gieseking

  • Geoff says:

    I am going to hear Grigory Sokolov play next Tuesday in Bruxelles, he seems to be very highly rated. But he now only plays in continental Europe, not in the UK or in North America, so maybe he doesn’t count. Are there any views of his playing amongst SD followers?
    I did hear Arrau at the Festival Hall in the 1950s, Klemperer was conducting, a memorable concert. I heard Richter play in Vancouver in the 1960s and Radu Lupu more recently. He hasn’t been mentioned yet.

    • Meal says:

      As mentioned earlier I do not want to add to a list of “best pianists”. Nevertheless: His touch on the piano is marvellous, his pp can be magic. Great technique, great musician. I am quite sure that you will enjoy the concert. I am going to listen to his concert in May. I would appriciate if you could let me know your impressions of the concert in Bruxelles.

      • Geoff says:

        Is it true that the first performance of a piece by a certain pianist becomes your all time favourite performer? My memories of Arrau could be.

      • Geoff says:

        I wandered into the hall surreptitiously two hours or so the starting time. I sat for an hour listening to Sokolov play Schubert and he played it just for me, not another soul in the hall. Was he just practicing or thinking of different ways of playing the notes? I will never know.
        Then I went in an took my seat and marveled at his playing again.

  • Shalom Rackovsky says:

    This is, of course, a completely meaningless exercise, since the list each of us would compile is absolutely subjective. If one wishes to compile a completely subjective list, though, I would be far more interested in a list of widely admired pianists [singers, conductors, violinists….] whom you, personally, absolutely can’t stand. We see hints of this every day in the comments on SD. So let’s get systematic, people! For me personally [and I stress the fact that this is ONLY MY OPINION, not objective fact] the two top entries on the awful-pianist-with-a-huge-career list would be Horowitz and Arrau.

  • Matt says:

    My personal list would be:

    Arrau
    Brendel
    Richter
    Perahia
    Rubinstein
    Pollini
    Ashkenazy
    Michaelangeli
    Lupu
    Uchida

    ..but it’s only really a snapshot as there are other great pianists I feel loathe to leave out for different reasons.

  • Simon Hall says:

    Thanks for the heads up on this set Norman. I remember hearing him play Liszt’s Un Sospiro when I was in my young teens and being amazed how he made the piano sound like it was a living breathing entity. Another name that belongs in the list is Annie Fischer, finest female pianist by a country mile IMHO.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    Clara Haskil, Myra Hess, and Annie Fischer.

  • boringfileclerk@yahoo.com says:

    Please remove Gould from the list and replace with Cziffra. Katsaris should be on the list as well. Also Clara Haskil, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Kissin, Friedrich Gulda, Michelangeli….

    The list goes on. The 20th Century was an embarrassment of riches in this regard. Compiling a definitive list seems pointless and unnecessary.

  • MADELINE says:

    EARL WILD!

  • Petros LInardos says:

    Edwin Fischer, Alfred Cortot.

    The list is getting long, for good reasons.

  • Chris Platts says:

    Maria João Pires, Leif Ove Andsnes – and (since it didn’t stipulate ‘classical’ pianists) – Art Tatum, Thelonius Monk, Chick Corea…

    • Nannerl says:

      Maria is I think the best living pianist. For the breadth and integrity of her repertoire: her Mozart, her Schumann, her Chopin. She offers a direct connection with the music, an intimacy, that always exists in the present. I wish she would record the Brahms works for piano.

  • msc says:

    I agree that, broadly, Arrau is sadly neglected. I don’t think that too many classical music lovers would readily name him among their top pianists, but he clearly belongs there: amazingly perceptive and consistent collections of Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, and Chopin, and Debussy. Some of his early recordings of romantic barnstormers (Islamey, for example) are also up with the very best and I wish he had revisited some of that repertoire later on. I can readily think of only a few of his recordings that I would consider duds. But I so wish he had recorded more Brahms, Schubert, and Haydn, and recorded the Mozart concerti with a suitable partner while he was at the peak of his powers. It might be apocryphal, but I think I read once that he urged his students to know all they could about visual art and to read widely in literature, arguing that uncultivated souls could not be great musicians.

    • Ninedragonspot says:

      I think you are correct that Arrau was an avid reader. I picked up a few books from his estate at a Colorado bookstore – books by Maurizio Kagel, Carl Dahlhaus, Hahn-Proust, Rieple’s “Musik im Donaueschingen” and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker’s Bewußtseinswandel. Alas, no marginalia.

  • Edmund J. cole says:

    Rudolf Serkin a consummate musician,great chamber musician, master of the basic repertoire and teacher but most of all the consummate musician.

  • Van says:

    Where’s Freddy Martin and Richard Clayderman?

  • Been Here Before says:

    A wonderful clickbait, isn’t it?

    Any list that includes Ashkenazy, Argerich and Gould among the 20th century’s greatest pianists but not Arrau, R. Serkin and Michelangeli can not be taken seriously.

    Arrau was one of the few pianists who had a continuous career spanning over six decades with a repertoire encompassing from Bach to Bartok. He definitely ranks among the top pianists, with Richter, Schnabel and Rachmaninov.

    • Been Here Before says:

      It is sad that nobody mentioned Josef Hoffman. Sic transit gloria mundi!

    • Been Here Before says:

      And Ignaz Friedman!

    • John Rook says:

      Claudio Arrau would have made my Top Ten from the off, but I think you’re being unfair towards Ashkenazy, who is a true pianistic legend (as well as being my Mum’s former next-door neighbour). I remember the media buzz in the 1980’s when Horowitz came out of ‘retirement’ to do a series of concerts and being appalled that he received so much attention when geniuses like Arrau had just been getting on with the job brilliantly for decades without anyone batting an eyelid. Horowitz, with his grotesque ‘interpretations’ wouldn’t even have made my top 50.

      • Andy says:

        Ashkenazy was a fabulous pianist, particularly from the early 60’s to the late 70’s. A lot of this is personal preference of course, but when I listen to Ashkenazy recordings now there are still things I hear him do which I’ve never heard any other pianists do so beautifully.

      • buxtehude says:

        Ashkenazy recorded the Brahms violin sonatas with Perlman in the 1980s. Especially in the first op 78 he managed to tweezer out much of the piano’s percussive element, wrapping the violin in velvet without losing any staccato detail in the magnificent part.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxpEa6U2ccI

        Plus he’s conducted/recorded some very nice Martinu and just now I discover this sparkling Martinu piece from his clarinetist son Dmitri

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80eavvQAGh0
        (posted in three parts)

  • Ernest Robles says:

    I would certainly make room on the list for Youri Egorov (if he’s not already mentioned in the replies).

  • Thomasina says:

    Emil Gilels. Is it true that the cause of his death is due to the medical errors?

  • Philip Champion says:

    Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli & Jorge Bolet

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Add Ingrid Haebler and Guiomar Novaes, and, Agustin Anievas.

  • James says:

    Rudolf Firkusny, Gina Bachauer, Ely Ney, Edwin Fischer, Yudina

  • Rmathuln says:

    A name I have not seen mentioned is Gerald Moore.
    Why are accompaniests always treated so lightly?
    There are realms other than Solo and Concerto where extreme artistic piano playing is paramount.

    • Kelvin Grout says:

      I mentioned Gerald above. I had lessons from him and as an accompanist I totally agree with you. We have a different relationship with the piano, but it is a relationship few choose to understand.

  • Frederick West says:

    Anyone but Arrau, yawn

  • Gary says:

    Benno Moiseiwitsch, perhaps the greatest of them all.
    Maria Yudina is fascinating.

  • Carole says:

    Gary Graffman

  • Rob says:

    Eric Morecambe.

  • William says:

    Oh we forgot to mention God. He’s been known to not only play the piano but created the pianist who played the piano. I guess the next question is if I ever her God play the piano? Yes I have through the 10 or more individual pianist named. He does his part and the pianists’ work hard to do their part. Not everyone can play compositions that captivate you.

  • Don Hohoho says:

    Novaes
    Michelangeli
    Gieseking
    de Larrocha
    Backhaus
    LANDOWSKA
    Tureck
    Hoffmann
    Bauer
    Lhevinne
    Rosenthal
    etc.

    Your list is like one written by a critic who doesn’t know music at all. Are you talking about music or technique? You can’t isolate just ten, anyway. Dumb idea.

  • KKG says:

    The ones I would NOT put on

    Gould

    Brendel

    Gilels

    Richter

    Schnabel

    Ashkenazy

    Definitely no Arrau either. The list does seem to indicate a bias toward a certain type of player. Oh well.

  • Edgar says:

    After having read that many comments with ever more names, I think I am ready for a drink…

    Cheers!

  • margaret koscielny says:

    May I say, tongue in cheek, “Great” pianists are a dime-a-dozen?

    Such a wealth of great musicians listed here. And, the list could use a few more women.
    ahem.

  • Sam says:

    Geoffrey Parsons appears to be forgotten.
    I’m also an admirer of Ivan Moravec.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    So we’re all agreed then: the list of the ten greatest pianists of the 20th century is 47 names long. And still doesn’t even include Paderewski or Scriabin. Or Gabrilowitsch or Grainger. Or Busoni. Art Tatum anyone?

    • Ravi Narasimhan says:

      “Good news: You should apply to the top ten graduate schools. Bad news:There are 23 of them.” — One of my college professors.

  • Jan Sanelli says:

    On that wonderful collection of The Great Pianists of the XX Century there were seven pianists whose recordings were extended to three albums. These were Arrau, Brendel, Gilels, Horowitz, Kempf, Richter and Rubinstein. To me they couldn’t have been better chosen!

  • Ravi Narasimhan says:

    What, no Hatto?

  • Lunchtime O'Boulez says:

    Dinu Lipatti, Alfred Cortot, Edwin Fischer, Wilhelm Kempff, Geza Anda, not Horowitz!

  • Esfir Ross says:

    Vladimir Sofronitski, Maria Grinberg, Clifford Curzon, Arcady Volodos, Van Cliburn.

  • Ravi Narasimhan says:

    Nelson Freire

  • Daniel Shapiro says:

    Alfred Cortot and Edwin Fischer

  • Esfir Ross says:

    Ivo Pogorelich

  • Rob says:

    Andre Previn

  • NN says:

    A list without Michelangeli, Pletnev, Pogorelich and Cortot is certainly incomplete. Not sure about Brendel…

  • Sam says:

    and what of Kocsis?

  • CYM says:

    Looks like Piotr Anderszewski is still missing in the list.
    Listen to his recordings of Mozart Concerti or Beethoven Diabelli Variations, and JS Bach, and Rachmaninov ! FABULOUS PIANIST !! The

  • Cyril Blair says:

    Don’t forget Vera Gornostayeva.

    What’s with the Brendel-hate? People, if you’re not crying during his Schubert, you’re not listening properly.

  • tomas says:

    Menahem Pressler (94 years old)

  • M2N2K says:

    My top three would look approximately like this:
    1 – Arturo,
    2 – Benedetti,
    3 – Michelangeli.
    Any “top pianists” list without him is incomplete.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Over 100 comments listing ”my favourites” and only 2 or 3 comments about Claudio Arrau. In those comments nobody seriously listed Wilhelm Backhaus, and no troll named Lang Lang or Liberace.

  • Erwin Poelstra says:

    Is my taste so rare? Some of my favourites aren’t mentioned, even with 100+ comments…
    Grigory Ginzburg, Samuel Feinberg, Nikolas Medtner, Cor de Groot, Gyorgy Sandor, Miecio Horszowski, Marcelle Meyer, father & son Neuhaus, Robert & Gaby Casadesus, Yakov Flier, John Browning…..these were all big names in their day and their recordings are still available.

  • Esfir Ross says:

    Jose Iturbi, Krisztian Zimmerman-nobody put those giants on the list. Richard Goode for his Beethoven and Schubert but not Alfred Brendel. Grigory Ginzburg-but not Neuhaus pere and fils

  • doremi says:

    What about Julius Katchen?Is he already forgotten?

    • buxtehude says:

      Not forgotten, at least not by me. A prodigy who left the US for France early on, he Was forgotten in his homeland, though a hit in Europe. I think he recorded the entire Brahms keyboard opus and it was very good indeed. Then he died, young. Others have come along.

      The Rolling Stones put him in their 1968 “Rock and Roll Circus” representing classical music, then cut that section. It exists somewhere in cyberspace, with an intro from a very stoned Brian.

  • doremi says:

    I don’t see A.Gavrilo’s name anywhere…..shame!!

    • buxtehude says:

      Have you read Gavrilov’s memoir? Some of his story on Richter was excerpted on this site. Does he elaborate on Richater’s private views of the regime?

      • doremi says:

        Hello
        I read some of his comments on Richter but music is the point here:not what Gavrilov think of R nor what R thought of gavrilov.

  • doremi says:

    YEOL EUM SON (South Korea) does not have to dress like in a disco club.And her playing is worth listening to.
    To my opinion of course.

  • Lucia says:

    Youri Egorov, who laid bare the soul of music. No list without him!!!!

  • Paul Davis says:

    The list seems reasonable if one needs to count: a
    Very Long Career & Popular Performer -Rubinstein,
    Influential Intellectuals, (early & late 20C)- Schnabel & Brendel, Dazzling Virtuoso Driving to Despair All Others, (in his youth)- Horowitz,
    Latina Tigress Virtuosa, (Force of Nature, Tsunami, Tornado, etc,)- Argerich,
    Soviet Enigma- Richter, Soviet Solid- Gilels,
    Huge Presence, Towering Interpreter & Piano Composer- Rachmaninov,
    Brilliant, Honest, Popular All-Rounder- Ashkenazy ……..and
    Tooth-Grittingly Ghastly, Gruesome, Grisly, Grim, Ghoulish Gould!

    Arrau should have been included: for a Very Long Career, Tradition-Bearer,(studied with a pupil of Liszt, heard such artists as Saint-Saens & Busoni…), Dazzling Brilliance (in his youth), Intellectual Weight and Huge Repertoire. But there will be disagreements; his final phase sometimes sounded really too geriatric and he just didn’t touch some people at all, it took me many years to appreciate his art & style.

    Many legends from early 20C were hardly or badly recorded, (Busoni, Hofmann….) so it’s difficult to claim. Others were worshipped by specialists but made little effect on the public, (Godowsky…).

    Personally, i would claim Dinu Lipatti. I never heard him live, but his too few recordings are (IMO) either the best or among the very best of those works. I take the liberty of copying a Youtube comment which i think expresses this better, and puts in perspective some of the other pianists discussed here:

    “Anything Lipatti recorded is either one of the best existing recordings of that piece or THE best existing recording of it. His technique is simply astounding; it’s at the level of any monster-visrtuoso of any time, yet it’s the last thing I would comment about his performances. I would define his style as a successful mix between Rubinstein (perfect phrasing, simplicity and directness of the interpretation, Horowitz (the power, the golden sound, the grandeur, the intimacy, the pushing to the limit), Gould (the clarity, the articulation, the voicing), Cortot (the perfect rubato, several technical aspects related to staccato and legato) and Michelangeli (the incredibly modern approach, the attention to detail), and all of this without any of their defects: Rubinstein: never pushes to the limit (like Lipatti in Alborada del gracioso), Horowitz (often distasteful, exaggerated, recordings go from the best ever to the worse ever) Gould (sometimes too eccentric in the interpretation, too biased too interested in his persona), Cortot (often lack of technical control, too much tied to his time), Michelangeli (also too concerned with his persona, too much attention to detail, with no space left for the improvisational side; too controlled). I don’t even deserve to name the pianists I just mentioned; let alone list what I think are their defects! But the point I want to make is that I cannot find one single defect in Lipatti’s playing!”

    Bearing in mind that these were discarded test pressings….!!

    https://youtu.be/dRt8txTphY8

  • Geoff says:

    And now please a list of great pianists who are still playing and that you have heard live. Not on a recording or heard that he/she is great in a book or a blog or in an agent’s or a recording company’s promotional bit.
    List in date order.

    • Nannerl says:

      Irina Plotnikova

    • Gary says:

      Yefim Bronfman
      Jean-Yves Thibaudet
      Yuja Wang
      Jeremy Denk
      Stephen Hough

    • David K. Nelson says:

      OK Geoff I’ll bite.
      Putting the list in order of hearing would call for days and days of sifting through boxes of old concert programs looking for something I might no longer retain. Moreover I lose track of which artists are still alive (I had to go to Google to verify Claude Frank and Malcolm Frager are deceased and Maurizio Pollini is still alive), and I am uneasy about the word “great.” So this is a very incomplete list, actually not a list at all, but I thought these were all pretty darn wonderful.

      First major pianist I heard in concert was Ralph Votapek (recital) — I was a teen so he seemed great to me, but the first of the bigger reputation pianists heard in concert: Lili Kraus (Beethoven’s Third Concerto), who of course is no longer alive. She was in great form that night, very commanding presence.

      First major pianist who soloed with an orchestra I was in: Mischa Dichter. He sure was a big name at the time and did a “great” job with the Schumann Concerto.

      Over the years, either in recital or with orchestra, Alicia de Larrocha, Stephen Hough, Emanual Ax, Yafim Bronfman, Mitsuko Uchida, Andreas Schiff, and the aforementioned Maurizio Pollini come to mind and would make many people’s “great” list. I happen to think Georges Pludermacher is a wonderful pianist, particularly for his Debussy, too little known perhaps, and hence might fail the “great” test.

      A friend of mind, and a major competition winner who made some Liszt and Rachmaninov recordings, Martha Naset (deceased), relayed that Eugene Ormandy once told her, when she bemoaned the lack of engagements, “But Martha. Pianists are a dime a dozen.” How lightly we and the music “industry” value (or how easily we denigrate) the talents of those few (Ormandy to the contrary) who have the chops to play the major repertoire but don’t quite get to be called “great.” Or even get to make commercial recordings which at least Martha did.

      To round out this non-list, perhaps the one living pianist whose concerts I seek out and try never to miss is Lilya Zilberstein, particularly in appearances with conductor Victor Yampolsky (the son of Oistrakh’s pianist).

      • Geoff says:

        Great list of “Greats” David, some are strangers to me.
        Heard Gregory Sokolov last Tuesday in Bruxelles, not to be missed, but not mentioned here, maybe because he avoids the UK and the USA.
        Steven Hough is coming up next week so will not miss him. Living in Ottawa there are not many that come here to play. As a younger person I saw many “Greats” play at the Festival Hall including Claudio Arrau.

      • Geoff says:

        Mischa Dichter was considered the favourite to win the 1966 Tchaikovsky but Grigori Sokolov won, due I hear to the vote of Emil Gilels.

        • Geoff says:

          I hesitate to mention Yuja Wang, but I did hear her play here in Ottawa in October 2006. Even then, when she was so young, her touch was phenomenal and since then have heard her play Bartok in Rochester NY and am due to hear her in Montreal in June and in Toronto next year. Guess we will have to see how she matures.
          So I have two from Gary’s list.
          I heard Richter in Vancouver in the 1960s.

    • M2N2K says:

      I am not a fan of using the word “great” much, so I would say – here are the most memorable pianists whom I have had the pleasure of seeing and hearing live (and performing with most of them):
      Pollini, Brendel, Ashkenazy, Kissin, Schiff, Lupu, Perahia, Bronfman, Ax, Argerich, de Larrocha, Richter, Gilels, Sokolov, Trifonov, Wang, LLang, Abduraimov, Uchida, Peterson,
      Uehara… Probably forgetting someone, but then again – I am only talking about most memorable ones!

  • Nannerl says:

    We are such suckers. OK. In order of rank (absurd)

    Dinu
    Alicia
    Clara
    Radu
    Ivo
    Maria Joao Pires
    Murray
    Michelangeli
    Volodya
    Mitsuko

    Richter and Gould have their own personal lists on which they are the only listing

  • Linda says:

    Myra Hess, Maria Yudina, Dinu Lipatti, Clara Haskil and Mieczyslaw Horszowski should be on there

  • esfir ross says:

    Lazar Berman-a giant of the piano

  • Herbarium Gaziel says:

    Any list that does not include Alicia de Larrocha is entirely redundant. Her recorded legacy, alone, for those with ears, is finer than most of these so-called lists. Shame on those who have compiled such meaningless names, without her inclusion. You’re simply deaf, or know nothing about the piano.

  • Michael Sachs says:

    I am surprised that there are so few mentions of Sokolov. Also, I once asked Horszowski who his favorite pianist was, and he mentioned a performance by Busoni of a Chopin piece, I unfortunately forget which one, that sounded like a will of the wisp.

    • Geoff says:

      Is it because he only plays recitals in Europe? No concertos with the big orchestras. Nothing in the UK or the USA. Has a most devoted following. All his recitals seem to be sold out. I flew to Brussels to hear him for the first time. Remarkable.

  • Paul Henry says:

    Sokolov for sure, and I am also a big fan of Volodos.

  • Paul Henry says:

    Michelangeli, a god to many pianists. And let’s not forget Sofronitsky, said to be the favorite pianist of Richter and Gilels.

  • Christopher Kuban says:

    Please contact me in reference to Martha Naset.
    Cnessk@gmail.com
    262.510.5234

    • David K.Nelson says:

      I remember Martha — she was a friend of my wife’s and part of a circle of pianists who we hung around with — but sadly her career was mostly over by that time. I did get to hear her play some Bartok (she was a pupil of Sandor). When she died her huge collection of sheet music was evidently dispersed including her Rachmaninov sonata which had markings made by Horowitz when she played for him, including his signed agreement with certain changes she made herself. To my knowledge she only made the two recordings, one all Liszt, the other all Rachmaninov.

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