Greatest Piano Concertos of All Time

What are the 10 greatest Piano Concertos of all time?

The Top TenXW

1Beethoven's 5th (Emperor) Piano Concerto

I do love Rachmaninov and probably would have given his 2nd Piano Concerto the top, until I heard this piece in concert for the first time several years ago. These votes can only be about those very razor-edge personal preferences so I will only focus on trying to explain that side of it. I suppose my heart chooses it above anything else because I feel the gamete of positive energies about life. The first movement feels like a complete whirlwind of complex, cascading and harmonious melodies. It deconstructs the mind while at the same time opens it to the sublime 2nd movement. While a second movement can often fall flat emotionally for me, I would never get tired of listening this one, where notes seem to fall like delicate drops of pensive rain. The pinnacle of the concerto for me, and perhaps one of the greatest highs to be found in all of music, is the incredible transition in last minute at the end of the 2nd where a simple theme is introduced and then just explodes out into a ...more

It is the greatest work ever written for piano concerto. I believe that it should be in the first rank. It is very powerful and full of energy.

The first and third movements are, of course, well-written and well-orchestrated, as one would expect from Beethoven. However, it is the second movement which truly astounds. It has such a simple melody, yet is so profound and powerful at the same time. The power of this movement is what sets the "Emperor" concerto above all others of its genre.

Greatest piano concerto ever

V30 Comments
2Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto

After every movement, you wonder "the next can't possibly be as good - but it is. All three movements, despite very different moods, are beautifully linked together. This is perhaps my all-time favorite classical piece of music. A masterpiece.

I love Rachmaninov. This composition is simply beautiful. When I first listen to the first movement I am immediately captured by the tune. Especially in in the second movement where he creates this romantic back and forth between the orchestra and piano. I simply wish people supported the classical music more than that of the pop culture currently existing.

In my opinion, one of the only piano concertos that is "essential" to the classical repertoire. Here is forty-five minutes of a man's personal reflection on his own life experiences. The epitome of romanticism.

Everything is perfect. This is and will always be my favorite piece.

V36 Comments
3Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto

Nearly 140 years later, the incredible originality of this work may be lost on some. But NO ONE had ever written a concerto like this before. The wild prestissimo in the second movement has moments that are almost atonal (in fact Tchaikovsky was called by a critic of the time an ULTRA MODERN composer! ). But innovation alone doesn't make a work great: this work has surpassing dramatic power as well as beauty. The gradual crescendo in the final movement before the octave peroration always gets me. No other piece quite like it.

It's grand structure surpasses nearly all other piano concertos out there. The thematic material is so beautiful and peaceful. How could you not love it?

absolute stunner, the first movement is just amazing, and makes me tingle a lot when I hear it

I just love this piece - mukumadzivire

V15 Comments
4Rachmaninov's 3rd Piano Concerto

No other single piece of music has ever come so close to perfection as the iconic 'Rach 3'. Just the very mention of the nickname sends chills up any budding pianist's spine. As Everest is to the climber, Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto cemented it's place in history when Rachmaninoff himself held up his hands after it's debut, unable to play an encore due to exhaustion. One would think that what has become universally known as the single most difficult piece of music ever written for the piano is also one of the most hauntingly beautiful and lyrical pieces of music anywhere. It is pieces such as this and Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe, that ushered in the period of atonality, because composers could not longer do better. Rachmaninoff on several occasions peaked the art form with such searing beauty that the competition folded. Detractors such as Stravinsky, once wrote extremely tonal and lyrical music which besides a few obscure pieces, none of us remember today. Everyone remembers the ...more

Hard to beat the famous cadenza, and the 2nd to 3rd movement transition is breathtaking and astounding.

Maybe the greatest piece of a music ever written in my opinion. It has its minor imperfections, and as a piece of music as a whole it isn't as cohesive or naturally flowing as his 2nd concerto, but at its best moments it is truly breathtaking. Profoundly moving and soaring beautiful.

The work of a genius at the very top of his game.

V13 Comments
5Mozart's 20th Piano Concerto

In my opinion, this is Mozart's best piano concerto. It is mysterious, lyrical, passionate, and leaves the listener in utter awe. I think it even surpasses the piano concertos of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff. It is daring and difficult, but serene and tranquil. Only beauty such as this could be conceived by our dear Mozart.

The first movement has to be one the most intense and transforming pieces of music ever composed - like the discovery of a new and life-changing chemical element. No other composition has ever got under my skin quite like this one.

I've been obsessed with this concerto this year and I've only really just started to appreciate classical music in my 41st year. So good.

My favorite piano concerto. For Mozart to write this in 1785, it was such a radical change.

V13 Comments
6Schumann Piano Concerto in A Minor

Now for Schumann, he is unlike any other composer you would hear. To be fair, I am a music critic myself having to review this piece as an AMAZING work a 10/10. Schumann is the best composers of the Romantic era despite his early death at age 46; (1810-1856). Having to wanted study law, Schumann devotedly injured his hand and focused primarily on composing. Although he had a mental illness, and a severe melancholic depression, he still managed to write but died being a bitter man in asylum at his own request. - nguyenbryan24

I adore this concerto. After the Introductory dotted rhythm of the piano in the opening bars the main A minor theme, first taken up by the woodwind, is the most hauntingly beautiful music I have ever heard. When taken up by the piano from the A pedal note it is so plaintive and the harmonies are so bleak and have an almost tragic beauty.The second movement is so lyrically beautiful and the third movement has such energy and is triumphant. His masterpiece!

Probably my favourite orchestral work of all time, maybe tied with Tchaikovskys Violin Concerto. The first movement when done right is tragic yet hopeful at the same time, in contrast to the short and sweet intermezzo before the final cheerful and triumphant last movement. The whole work seems to be filled with such contrast, but it's all tied together by the opening motif which is repeated throughout in various guises.

This concerto is Schumann itself...Practicing the three movements as a whole gave me a lot of insight regarding Schumann.

V3 Comments
7Mozart's 21st Piano Concerto

Wonderful, joyful concerto. My favorite concerto and Mozart piece. The third movement leaves me speechless every time. This concerto leaved me overjoyed in an indescribable way.

One of Mozart's most well known pieces of music. Very soft and exquisite themes. - plmilligan1968

Pleasing, profound and uplifting. It soothes the soul and engages the mind. So beautiful.

One of the most delicate concertos ever. Full of invention and wonderful melodic lines.

V2 Comments
8Grieg's Piano Concerto

It's beautiful lines soar and the small solo bursts from other instruments bring this from any other concerto to one that captivates and mesmerizes every time, especially due to the beautiful cadenzas as well as the tones that can break your heart from beauty.

I am a beginner in the 'learning piano world', this is my inspiration. I know that I may never be able to play this piece in full (maybe when I am 80 years old, I am 44...) This piece of music captures my heart, and (oh dear) brings tears to my eyes, has done since I was a kid. I don't think it is the most technical of piano concerto's (I see that many 'muso's' seem to judge music, not by it's beauty, but by how near impossible it is to play), it is quite simply Beautiful.

Remarkable both in its intensity and yet beautiful harmony. I am not yet - nor ever ever will be - sonically equipped to 'judge' who is better than who? Yet I do know, having listened to each of the ten listed plus many other besides it is Grieg's Piano Concerto that tops my list

V3 Comments
9Modern Piano Concerto No.1 by Leszek Jasionowski

It's got five amazing movements and never a dull moment.

This concerto is an excellent example of "montage of attraction" in music.

I find no such 1 hour Modern Piano Concerto by this composer anywhere on the Internet. There's something by this composer called Modern Piano Concerto on YouTube that is about 3 minutes long and is a pop thing of some sort, certainly not 5 movements. Please tell me where I can find this concerto in its entirety.

Please remove this from the list.

V17 Comments
10Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1

Chopin's Piano Concerto 1 transmits the various emotion into my innermost. I love this concerto so much, especially 1st movement. In my opinion Yundi Li is the best interpreter of this piece

It's really beautiful and reminds us of the beauty of the piano itself, its unique self in between the orchestra. The finale is really beautiful.

The intensity of the first movement and the delicacy of the second movement and the climax in the third are what make this piece so wonderful~

The most beautiful music I Have ever listened to

V15 Comments

The Contenders

11Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1

This should definitely be in the Top 5! An underrated concerto, it is difficult to understand, but absolutely amazing when you understand it. The orchestral parts are the works of a genius. A grand, temptestuous opening begins the first movement while in other places the atmosphere is dark and devastating. The second movement is extremely wonderful and emotional, while the third grasps the listener's attention immediately.

My favorite concerto. Brahms melodies are heartbreaking and haunting. Even though it's a piano concerto, Brahms took great care writing the orchestral accompaniment creating a musical masterpiece that compositionally is far above most concertos that seem to only be vehicles to show off piano virtuosity.

One of the grandest and most turbulent of all the great piano concertos. I need to be in the right frame of mind to listen to it but when I am, it really does rekindle so much of the emotion and vitality of my younger years.

My absolutely favorite concerto! Its orchestration is really peerless. Reminds me of the best of Beethoven and Chopin and some more.

V9 Comments
12Brahms Piano Concerto no.2 in B flat major

This is one of the most sophisticated piano concerto's ever written. It contains some amazing motifs that are unlike anything written before or since. Brahms was at the peak of his career when he composed this concerto, and it shows.

I Think of this as one of the most complete piano concertos ever made. Brahms merges himself with the future and the past.

One of the most satisfying and uplifting of all the great piano concertos. Every time I listen to it I think how wonderful it would be to have the chance to meet its composer.

I never get tired of this however many times I hear it.

V6 Comments
13Mozart Piano Concerto No.23

Delightfully happy third movement.

I have listened to most of Mozart's piano concertos many times,
but of them all I love the 23rd most of all. Especially the second
movement. The 20th and 24th are also great, but to my mind
the 23rd is the best. I love it. Bravo Mozart!

V1 Comment
14Mozart's 24th Piano Concerto

Considered to be one of Mozarts best compositions which says it all. - plmilligan1968

Magnificently expressive--- full of power, emotion, and grandeur.

The most complete concerto by Mozart

V1 Comment
15Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2

I believe it to show every stage of romance from the start falling in love all the way to coming to terms with heartbreak

As fantastic as Chopin's piano concerto number 1, both concertos are the paramount of classical music and all music

Both Chopin's piano concertos are amazing, beautiful melody, extraordinary phrasing, contrasting, dramatic, full of nostalgy, fast and slow, tempo bravura, and lyrical, and can be listen over and over. In addition, God knows why so called music experts are complaining about orchestra score, both concertos are perfectly balanced and if you really want to understand how to play listen to Kristian Zimerman's interpretation with Polish Festival Orchestra

V1 Comment
16Beethoven Piano Concerto no.4 in G

Without doubt the Beethoven 4th is the absolute pinnacle of piano concertos. Although this will always be a matter of opinion, I remember as a young boy first hearing this incredible piece and saying to myself (of course I had not even yet heard the Rach 2 and 3! ) there is something VERY different about this work. I eventually learned the concerto and grew to love and appreciate it EVEN MORE and my opinion has NEVER EVER waivered. Most pianists (musicians) that I know who also think of the B 4th as the greatest piano concerto have likewise ALWAYS felt this way. There is simply no other work like it. The Emperor, as great as it is, is still very typical Beethoven. The 4th is in a category all it's own and those who know this have always known this. What a tragedy that the manuscript was lost!

As an aspiring concert pianist who is currently working on this beautiful concerto, I can definitely vouch for this! It is truly an innovative concerto. It is the very first piano concerto in history to have the unaccompanied solo piano start off the whole concerto! It is also very profoundly emotional and I always find myself fighting back tears when playing the piece. This will always be rated higher than the Piano Concerto in E Flat major, Op. 73,

The greatest. Sublime. Transcendent. I can't find words to express what I feel when listening this music. Notes just go trough me

Prodigious first movement - charged with such latent energy like hardly anything else in the whole canon. The second movement is rather too sombre, though.

V4 Comments
17Liszt - Piano Concerto No. 1

Incredibly daring with the first movement set to the phrase "None of you understand this, haha! ", this tremendous beauty crosses every sphere of emotion across its short but powerful 4 movements. Liszt's ability to let virtuosity expound and bolster the melodies introduced is spotlighted in this grand work.

Fantastic concert! Virtuosity and passion in one masterwork

18Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.3

I would find this Piano Concerto more beautiful than #5, but #5 is more powerful and more difficult.

To my mind, this concerto is better than Beethoven's No.5

Some people, including myself, claim that this concerto is better than Beethoven's No.5 - leszekjasionowski

V1 Comment
19Mozart's 22nd Piano Concerto

One of Mozarts most melodic & eloquant piano concertos. - plmilligan1968

This piano concerto is considered the "The Queen of all Piano Concertos" because of its beauty and elegance.

My favorite of all of Mozart's Piano Concertos. Intricate writing particularly for the wind instruments.

This piano concerto sounds very elegant but very tricky to play.

V1 Comment
20Ravel - Piano Concerto In G-major

Incredible stuff, there are times I will listen to this almost every night. It has almost a progressive-rock quality to it, especially the first movement.

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List StatsUpdated 9 Dec 2016

2,000 votes
47 listings
8 years, 109 days old

Top Remixes (5)

1. Beethoven's 5th (Emperor) Piano Concerto
2. Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto
3. Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto
1. Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto
2. Beethoven's 5th (Emperor) Piano Concerto
3. Mozart's 21st Piano Concerto
1. Beethoven's 5th (Emperor) Piano Concerto
2. Mozart's 20th Piano Concerto
3. Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto

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