Best Pianists of All Time

The Top Ten

1 Franz Liszt Franz Liszt was a prolific 19th-century Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, music teacher, arranger, organist, philanthropist, author, nationalist and a Franciscan tertiary.

Yanni is a modern pianist. How can he even be compared to the classical greats? The technical brilliance and the incredible composing and improvising abilities of the virtuosic pianists of the classical and romantic era simply cannot be put against some 'nice sounding' music. With all due respect to every other musician, Beethoven is the greatest composer ever and Franz Liszt is the greatest pianist ever.

There are recordings of the last of Liszt's students, such as Arthur Friedheim, who specialized in Liszt's piano works. Frederic Lamond might give one an idea of what Liszt could teach, within the limitations of the pupil. I'm disappointed that this list's contributors have not noted great 20th century classical pianists, nor mentioned the great technician's of this century.

First of all yanni on top come on man. a person with 0.1% knowledge in this field will tell you that's LIszt perhaps was and is still the best pianist of all time although chopin sir would come close but the Liszt is probably the only man till this date who has fully satisfied his girlfriends!

He literally wrote the HARDEST PIANO PIECES EVER! The only reason why Mozart is #1 (his compositions are way harder than they sound! ) is because Mozart is a synonym for a musical genius and people would say "Wow you're such a Mozart" because nobody would say "Wow you're such a Liszt"

2 Yanni

"Yanni live at the Acropolis" was his finest hour as a pianist, no doubt about that. Despite playing among the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and some world class band members, including a terrific Karen Briggs on violin, Yanni was in my opinion the best and most accomplished performer on the night. Here, he showcased all of his qualities as a pianist/keyboardist: musicality, sensitivity, technique, motoric skills, attention to detail, virtuosity, passion, accompaniment skills, courage, humility, ability to connect with the audience. Another great example of his abilities as a musician is the "In My Time" album - it's full of beautiful, deep piano solo pieces which will warm your heart and heal your soul. Yanni is without a doubt one of the best pianists of our time.

I know there are many good pianist around the world and they play music very well, which is good. But Yanni, is the best of all, because his music touched your heart and soul, it enters in your mind and make you feel relax and help you to forget all around and when you start thinking again, your mind and heart feel peace, love, happiness, and feels a touch of God in your heart, relax. His music help you share with so many people around the world. He does not only plays good music but he also give you advises and good ones. It's so relaxing that you keep on. God bless him and I hope his music touch every soul in the world, from kids to ederlies. Keep on bringing hope and peace to each heart.

It's probably a once-a-century (or millennia) event that someone rises somewhere in the world; shoots up and keeps on going. Let's not forget that Yanni is a self-educated accomplished musician; his "musical shorthand" is an astoundingly innovative method to make oneself able to read music. He didn't stop at his inability to read conventional notes, but made his own notes to jump over that barrier -- simply amazing! And for someone who could do that, I'm not least astonished that he could come this far, to stand in the foreground of best world musicians and public performers. Yanni's psychology major is probably a contributing element in his success at conveying his music directly to the soul. Yanni you've been my #1 inspiration source and musical delight since August 1993, and still occupy that stature till this very day, 20 years later. God has indeed blessed such wonderful children of His; may He keep you both physically and spiritually, and shower you with His graces. Thank you ...more

The other comments pretty much say it all! I have been a Yanni fan for over 25 years and have been to as many concerts as I can get to. In April 2011, we saw him followed by an unheard-of tour the very next year. I was lucky enough to see him twice in June 2012, to have attended my first Fan Event dinner, and especially to have inadvertently crashed rehearsal and chatted briefly with him from a distance! Meeting some of the world-class orchestra members at the dinner and finally meeting Charlie Adams after the concert made the night. Mary Simpson is from very near where I live and she was a joy. Sarah O'Brien, as lovely as always, was also generous with her time. Yoel del Sol has the most adorable smile, and they all were patient while group and individual photos were taken. Thanks also to Krystal Vinck with PR who brought "Santorini" and handed her off to my cousin who was wearing the Santorini shirt from the concert two nights before! I know Pam hated to part with Santorini! I still ...more

3 Elton John Sir Elton Hercules John CBE is an English singer, pianist, and composer. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriting partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date.

Elton John was accepted at Royal Music Academy at 11 for playing a thirteen sheet piece by Chopin that he had never seen before without any mistake, I believe. He kept playing pieces by heart that he had heard once. Is there anything left to be said?

Touches hearts with every key he plays. Tell me, who else can do that? He has gone down in history as a legend, an icon and an idea of beauty with his songs. He taught the entire world a lesson about the real meaning of music and that the only way to touch people's lives its playing from the heart.

There are NO parrots on here. If you're not a fan of Sir Elton John, there's no point in your commenting here. Sir Elton John is the finest & by far the best, pop/rock pianist/musician ever. His understanding & interpretation of music is second to none.

I agree that Elton is supremely talented. An all time great. But people who never heard of Vladimir Horowitz should never ever be taken seriously when discussing great pianists. Oh by the way. Yanni descrIbed Elton John as the most talented and improvisational pianistt he's ever heard. Personally I believe van cliburn should be at the top of any list

4 Frederic Chopin Frédéric François Chopin (1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849), born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for the solo piano. He gained and has maintained renown worldwide as a leading musician of his era, whose "poetic genius ...read more.

How is Paul McCartney and Freddie Mercury above him? Good pianists, but nothing like this legend...

Listening to one of his pieces feels like the moment just before you fall asleep.

He s obviously the greatest pianist in the world. End of Story.

Raw emotion mixed with infinite delicacy. Chopin is, by far, the best.

5 Freddie Mercury Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara, 5th September 1946 - 24th November 1991) was a Zanzibari-born British singer of Indian descent, songwriter and record producer, known as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the British rock band Queen. He also became known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave ...read more.

Sure Freddie Mercury could play the piano but he was certainly not the best piano player of all time.

Freddie Mercury should be number 3. He was the best and still is. Legends never die!

He is underrated as a piano player, but pianists say that he was virtuoso.

He is mainly a singer but he has good piano skills

6 Ludwig van Beethoven Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, ...read more.

Beethoven is no doubt the best pianist. He had incredible improvisation powers as Mozart witnessed in his only meeting. If Mozart lived longer, him and Beethoven would have performed together Europe wide.

As Mozart predicted during his first/last meeting with him that Beethoven will be a great composer after him. He really came close to Mozart's ability on his piano skills but he was quicker on improvisation than Mozart. If only Mozart lived longer to witness the greatness of Beethoven or perhaps play a piece together would make it sound legendary.

Anybody that voted for yanni is crazy. Yanni is ridiculously good at the piano but Beethoven could write music without hearing it at one point. Also Beethoven expressed his emotions through his music. He wrote some of the greatest music ever and deserves #1

You are a great piano player in my haert. You every time give an message to the world. When I am listning to your music I feel that I also Live in your music. However you'll live in my heart forever.

7 Billy Joel William Martin Joel is an American singer-songwriter, composer and pianist. Commonly nicknamed the "Piano Man", he has been making music since the 1960s, releasing popular albums throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s.

Billy Joel created some of the most amazing Rock Piano music of all time, and this was only due to his incredible skills with the Piano, and his skill with songwriting and composing. He combined Jazz and Rock perfectly and created a unique genre of Piano Rock music that cannot be replicated by anyone else. He is now nearly 70 years old, and his singing voice is just as good as it was 40 years ago! Billy Joel is overall an extremely skilled Pianist and musician.

Made the piano truly a rock and roll instrument and introduced all the kids growing up in the 70s and 80s who thought the guitar was cool to another instrument. Easily one of the most influential piano artists and he always pays his dues to his piano heroes like Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Beethoven, etc

I get that Mozart and all those classic piano players were musical geniuses and that they pioneered important piano styles, but let’s face it, would you rather listen to some old 1700s piano stuff or some awesome Billy Joel songs? I think we all know the obvious answer. Billy Joel was a modern piano genius and created many piano songs we all know and love.

Billy Joel is in the same category as a Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven. He writes the lyrics and the music AND sings. Pure absolute genius. Thank you Billy for bringing your music to the world. You will be remembered FOREVER!

8 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era, born in Salzburg.

Mozart mastered the piano at the age of 5 and can write piano pieces in one day without mistakes or rehearsals. Due to his natural talent, he should have been first on the list!

A great composer. Sad that autotune doesn't exist, as people such as Mozart would be more popular than untalented people such as Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.

He is an amazing pianist who has gone through so much to be where he is now and I worship him.

Mozart is the best pianist I've ever known! How could he not be Number 1? He is too good!

9 John Lennon John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE was an English singer and songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as a co-founder of the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of popular music. He was assassinated by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980 at age 40.

John Lennon was the greatest song writer of the 21st century. A genius in his own right but far from a top ten greatest pianist and this is coming from someone who regards Lennon as the greatest musical person of the 21st century.

John lennon? Really? TheTopTens lists always ends up being a popularity contest, smh

10 Valentina Lisitsa

She always smiles when she plays, as though she is enjoying the music she is playing.

I just love the way she plays

ı think it is a good pianist in the world

The Contenders

11 Vladimir Horowitz

Touch, dynamics, emotion, repertoire, range of composers with such different styles... And totally overcoming the slight handicap of being short of stature... It is almost a joke to put Yanni, Billy and Elton in the same category list wise. There should be two separate lists at least... We aren't talking about playing music you've composed yourself here, we are talking about playing the piano... I have huge respect for the others as musicians and performers and all are very good at the piano but they cannot begin to come close to Horowitz. Rubenstein maybe can... Rachmaninov maybe can... Serkin maybe can... But the others? I'm sorry... Get real.

No question. The other "pop" piano players shouldn't even be mentioned in the same conversation - they can't because they don't belong! Rubenstein! Unbelievable! The real measure of whether they are in the same league is to simply ask them. Not Billy Joel, not Yanni, not Elton John and certainly not John Lennon? Are you serious? None of them would say they were better or even close b/c at least they know the difference - even if our dumbed down society does. Sigh.

Horowitz is the greatest pianist, period. How on earth is it that he being beat by a music school DROPOUT. Horowitz had technically mastery, but also complete control over his dynamics. Just listen to his version of Movement 3 of the Moonlight sonata, a piece a doubt Elton John could even play.

Horowitz' touch was not of this earth. He is hands down, no pun intended the winner here.

And YANNI Before BEETHOVEN? Are you insane? Did you receive a blow to the head lately? Wow.

12 Tim Minchin

Tim Minchin to me is a stand alone genius when it comes to showcasing what connecting with a piano is truly all about... Forget his comedic nature, which I'm sure is a major factor in the dismissal of his true talent in many people's option, and why he is void of the true recognition he aptly is deserved of. I am usually a man of very few words, but on this occasion my pallet has been moistened. Please don't misjudge or indeed prejudge. Forget your purism and let your passion for the instrument guide you on this one. Tim is in no uncertain terms, a modern day genius.

I don't agree with all of his religious ways but the way he connects with music is just imaginable, he has to be one of the most respectable pianists.

I can't believe Tim Minchin was not on the list! Literally, listen to any single one of his songs and you will see the amazement that is, Tim Minchin.

13 Sergei Rachmaninov

Rachmaninov's tonality and perfect clarity earn him the number one spot on this list (in my opinion). I think that Joel and John are talented, but really shouldn't be close to the top 5. Yanni is talented, but again, he's no where near as talented as Rachmaninov.

Furthermore, Rachmaninov's command of theory and timing is impeccable. Additionally, as seen with his predecessor Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov's use of theme and the changes thereof within a piece is so masterful it seems as if he is strategically making the audience feel a specific way, just so he can make them feel different later on.

Top 10 no doubt. The sophistication in his compositions put him right up there with Chopin for musical genius. The very young generation knows what it likes to hear fun touching music and go for mainstream. Those of us that have been around for a while know the difference between great entertainment (something that probably all pianists mentioned here can provide) and great music (that only a few have the true gift of composing and playing at the highest level).

It's common to hear Rachmaninov's music but rare to actually hear him play. Besides others, a recording exists of Servei playing The Star Spangled Banner.! The technical quality is awful. Nevertheless, the artistry is so great that it shines through the noise. In my humble opinion, Sergei Rachmaninov is the greatest pianist of all time.

Well... This pool shows only that mainstream music is dominating and that's why they vote for it. Of course, that Rachmaninov is the best pianist we can listen to...

What about Freddy? He himself said that he was always scared of playing piano in concerts, because of mistakes... What about Elthon John comparing for example Horowitz?..

14 Lang Lang

Lang Lang is actually not as astonishing virtuoso as his countrywoman Yuja Wang. Yuja Wang is truly the heir to Horowitz at the age of 27! She is the only person alive who can play the fiendishly difficult piano piece... Czittra's Polka. You can watch her play it on the viewing website. It's mind blowing.

CNN said he is the most famous classical artist of all times. Beating out Pavarotti. CNN also said he is more famous than The Beatles. Don't take my word for it. Search for CNN's Lang Lang online.

Lang Lang is the worlds most amazing pianist in the 21 century! He is so fantastic.

This guy is pretty sweet, he shows emotion in such a unique way.

15 Scott Joplin

Damn, how is he so low on this list?! Joplin's legendary!
(I actually listen to his music while I'm on TheTopTens)

Achieved sheer perfection in his works

The king of ragtime

16 Billy Mayerl
17 Yiruma

Why isn't he even on the first page? He should be at least in the top ten...

His songs make me cry... His awesome...
Love Yiruma!

I don't he should even be in this Liszt.

I think he can paint with piano

18 Martha Argerich

She's also hot (when she was younger of course)

She is a legendary pianist.

Why? She should be in the top 5!

19 Emil Gilels

One of the most gifted pianists of all time.

20 Sviatoslav Richter

His playing abilities can only be compared to Horowitz and Rachmaninoff. He also had GREAT memorization and gave his heart to his music.

Huge repetoire, incredible technique along with great musicality. One of the greatest of all time.

Richter--separating the superhuman from the great.

21 William Joseph

I was so fortunate to have seen William Joseph in concert. His music takes us on this great emotional journey leaving us inspired and rejuvenated. He is a great pianist, composer, songwriter and a wonderful person. He started composing at the age of five. Some of the fan favourites are his Piano Fantasy, Within, Sweet Remembrance of You. His latest collection of beloved hymns is a masterpiece. His rendition of Asturias is by far the best I've heard. If you haven't heard him yet please do watch his videos on YouTube. He is legendary and he will be remembered for generations to come.

William Joseph is an amazing piano player! He is passionate about it and it shows! I love his albums! They are wonderful and bring my family and I so much happiness! Plus, he is an amazing man!

He is the best pianist ever! His albums inspire all of his listeners, and bring such a joy to the world. I think he should be number one on this list! He is young, charming, and well rounded. My most favorite pianist ever. :-) Keep rocking it William!

No one can hold a candle to William Joseph. He is a magnificent composer, pianist and human being. I feel blessed to have met and chatted with him.

22 Paul McCartney Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer . With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame with the rock band the Beatles, one of the most popular and influential groups in the history of pop and rock music .

Lennon is very good at piano, and I believe they’re equal in music overall between all the categories, but you have to give piano to Paul.

McCa is better is then Lennon I'm every way! You people are dumb for saying McCa is worse than Lennon. McCa should be top 5. Billy Joel's really good, too.

23 Fazil Say

You should listen "Black Earth" performance.

A Turkish pianist and composer born in Ankara, Turkey.

He deserve to be in "TOP 10".

24 Glenn Gould Glenn Herbert Gould was a Canadian pianist who became one of the best-known and most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century.

Absolutely the best. For those that placed Elton John, John Lennon, and Freddie Mercury ahead of Glenn Gould, what were you thinking?

His performances suggest he attained a musical understanding nearly equal to some of the greatest composers. One of the greatest, worthy of top 10.

Many of his Bach fuges and preludes are perfect. His Liszt/Beethoven symphony nr.5 is the best piano repertoire of all time.

For me, one of the best pianist

25 Liberace Władziu Valentino Liberace, mononymously known as Liberace, was an American pianist, singer, and actor.

Liberace had lots and lots of talent. Besides who is still living who ever heard Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, etc. ever play to know how well they played. Their written music may have been good, but that just tells how well they composed music.

One of the most talented pianist, and entertainer of all time.
Liberace was a showman that enjoyed his work, and was creative with his stage presense.

Most enjoyable to listen to regardless of type of music. Brought the classics to the masses

The one to listen to for any child dreaming of becoming great on the piano in the 1950's.

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