Greatest Piano Concertos of All Time

plmilligan1968
What are the 10 greatest Piano Concertos of all time?

The Top Ten

1 Beethoven'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

This is simply 'The Concert'!

Beethoven's 5th (Emperor) Piano Concerto is the most beautiful and most emotional musical composition of all time, (well for major/minor 'tonal' compositions, I can't speak for atonality-loving freaks or people who like John Cage-esque sound-effects pieces). It is complex. I get bacchanalian highs, I get almost drunk on the heavenly notes of all three movements every single time I sit down and listen to them!

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.

41 Comments
2 Rachmaninov'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.

Tears.

This magnificent masterpiece is my favorite classical composition, period. For me it does not get any better, like being transported to heaven for the duration. Brings out the tears in me like a baby.

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.

48 Comments
3 Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto

The greatest concerto ever written, hands down!

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

18 Comments
4 Mozart's 20th Piano Concerto

Beautiful from start to finish..The second movement really wondeerful..A whole like a story telling with Dark first an closed dark also like teeling the life must go on..just go forward..

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.

Very dramatic and influential. Beethoven was inspired by this concerto. Its immense and enrapturing. - plmilligan1968

16 Comments
5 Rachmaninov's 3rd Piano Concerto

I am a music major and have played the piano for 18 years. I have listened to countless recordings of hundreds upon hundreds of beautiful, enigmatic, divine, haunting, and romantic pieces.
Nothing comes close to the Rach 3.
It is the best piece of music ever written.

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.

19 Comments
6 Schumann 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

Schumann is the greatest composer of the so called romantic period. No one else from Schumann's era comes even close. This piano concerto is in a class all its own. I takes a long time to penetrate into Schumann's inner world, or at least it took me a long time. I was already deeply familiar with and adored Liszt, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Berlioz among others by the time I finally understood Schumann. Some people "get it" much earlier and I wasn't one of those people. The level of perfection attained in the Schumann concerto is matched only by Beethoven's fourth piano concerto in my opinion.

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.

4 Comments
7 Brahms 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.

9 Comments
8 Mozart's 21st Piano Concerto

A masterpiece. - TopTenTed

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.

3 Comments
9 Chopin 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

I would add Chopin's Concerto # 2 to the list

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~

20 Comments
10 Grieg's Piano Concerto

Not the singular best but should certainly be higher on this list. That cadenza is incredible!

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.

Griegs most well known and best composition. - plmilligan1968

4 Comments

The Contenders

11 Brahms Piano Concerto no.2 in B flat major

Complete mastery and perfection of structure and style. Brahms at his best.

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.

8 Comments
12 Modern Piano Concerto No.1 by Leszek Jasionowski

Please be informed that Modern Piano Concerto number 1 hasn't been released by any record company yet.
1 million dollars from some generous music lover could solve that problem.
However, it doesn't change the fact that this great new-concept-piano concerto exists in a very limited edition on CD (home recording just for friends), but isn't available in any music store. It cannot be found in its entirety on the Internet either, so you have to be patient and wait for that moment.

A few facts about this Modern Piano Concerto:
It's the longest one ever written. It lasts well over 90 minutes.
It was written in 5 years (2012-2016)
It's got over 20 movements..
It's got more beautiful tunes than all major piano concertos by Great Classics put together.
It's a real masterpiece, as it was composed by a gifted melody maker who started writing music in 1965.
and over 50 years has written thousands of catchy and moving tunes.
This concerto is a summing up of that ...more

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.

19 Comments
13 Mozart's 24th Piano Concerto

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

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

One of his best.

The most complete concerto by Mozart

1 Comment
14 Beethoven Piano Concerto no.4 in G

Those learned in piano literature or classical music in general would always regard Beethoven No.4 not only as one of the greatest piano concertos ever written, but also as one of the greatest instrumental piece period. I remained convinced to this day, and many would concur in spades, that there is nothing more sublime and otherworldly beautiful than the first movement. The second movement, the first of its kind, is nothing short of breathtaking and on par with the first movement in terms of quality and historical significance. The third movement, although less innovative than the previous two, is your quintessential Beethoven-esque keyboard piece. I highly recommend Mitsuko Uchida's interpretation in particular.

I know that Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto is the more famous one, but it's inconceivable to me that anyone would place the 5th above the 4th. I would choose the 4th's unsurpassable lyricism over the 5th's bullish cheer any day.

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!

Nothing else compares.

8 Comments
15 Mozart Piano Concerto No.23

Best of Mozart

The second movement is my favorite piece by Mozart. It is more sad and tragic than any other music I've heard in my life, as if the orchestra itself is weeping. The ending piano melody could not be written any more perfectly.

Delightfully happy third movement.

The best music ever

1 Comment
16 Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2

Tragic, romantic, and so powerful at the same time.

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

2 Comments
17 Bach's Concerto I in D minor, BWV 1052

Yes, it is the best of all.

Poweful and wonderful

EXTRAORDINARY

18 Ravel - 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.

19 Liszt - 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

20 Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.3

First movement is so captivating, this is by far my favourite Beethoven Concerto.

Most powerful melody ever heard! (First movement)

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

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

3 Comments
21 Saint-Saens - Piano Concerto No.5 'Egyptian'

The most beautiful first movement, gives me goosebumps every time!
2nd movement with nice exotic element.
3rd movement how exciting is this? Love it love it! Especially the recap!

A supremely magnificent, yet underrated concerto.

Camille was to Egypte to composing

22 Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2

Modern crap.

23 Mozart's 22nd Piano Concerto

This concerto seems to have more creativity and genius per line of music them any of his other concertos. Mozart uses the wind instruments very well to compliment the piano. He also uses excellent contrasts between major and minor passages. A real feast for the ears!

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.

This piece, for me, represents the pinnacle of concerto writing. Each of the three movements is a masterpiece in its own right:
1st Movement: A grand musical architecture in the key of Eb that is intricate and yet beautiful.
2nd Movement: This movement reveals Mozart at the height of his melodic powers. The deftness with which he conjures up serene melodies and skilfully works them out through different keys - beginning with the relative minor to the home key - simply fills the listener with awe.
3rd movement: Features a delightful melody in compound duple time which transforms into something sublime in the hands of this maestro.
I discover something new every time I listen to this concerto!

3 Comments
24 Saint-Seans - Piano Concerto No. 2

This is simple and complex. Wonderful

Saint Saens, definitely the most underrated of composers.

This is absolutely beautiful and spine-chilling. A combination of epic and romantic.

This has a georgeous first movement. I am a piano teacher and have several students win concerto competitions with this piece. I think it showcases the pianist's talents and has very beautiful lines!

2 Comments
25 Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25

Lively and melodic-a favourite.

26 Liszt - Piano Concerto No.2

Incredibly underrated! It's a perfect blend of tranquility and madness.

I love it!

27 Bartok - Piano Concerto No.3
28 Kachaturian Piano Concerto

Great balance of melody and dissonance. A powerful force.

An Armenian concerto

29 Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 1

Beautiful and powerful; A masterpiece!

A short but thunderous - and extremely difficult - piano concerto by the master Sergej.
Should be in this list, so much underrated

30 Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F

This was Yuna Kim's figure skating music at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics!

Anyways, this is a beautiful concerto, combination of both jazzy elements, chromaticism, and romantic lyricism. If I could sum it up in one word, I would say: "Inspirational" or "Uplifting".

31 Prokofiev 3rd Piano Concerto

For me this is kind of a 3-way tie with Beethoven 4 (which is MILES ahead of 5! ) and Chopin 2. But nothing beats Prok3 for sheer bravura, and it's even better live.

32 Mozart Piano Concerto no.25 in C

This concerto by Mozart is in my humble opinion "a symphony with piano". Why? Because the Mozart's Piano Concerto no.25 in C major has a symphonic temperament similar to 41 th symphony called "Jupiter". In fact, the Mozart's Piano Concerto no.25 in C major has a pompous and joy taste like said symphony 41 th. One of the best piano concertos by Mozart along to 20, 21, 22, 24, 26 and 27.

My favorite concerto by Mozart. It starts with the most stirring power of his concertos. The power of it just blows me away.

Absolutely and it has so many motifs but it is the shadesof dark and light that make it unique

33 Bortkiewicz Piano Concerto no. 1

Incredibly underrated.

An underplayed masterpiece, virtually unlnown in North America until a YouTube users published it.

... Oh my god.

34 Addinsell Warsaw Concerto

Straight copy of Rachmaninov. Apparently, the film makers couldn't get Rach himself, so they commissioned this sound-alike. Still... Very beautiful, albeit short piece.

Simply uplifting!

35 Moszkowski Piano Concerto

I just recently listened to it and love it a lot!

This concerto is very good and very underrated.

36 Samuel Barber - The Piano Concerto, Op. 38
37 Rachmaninov's 1st Piano Concerto
38 Wojciech Kilar - Piano Concerto No. 1
39 Paderewski Piano Concerto A Minor Op.17

Superb, extraordinary, beautiful but yet forgotten, very sad

40 Poulenc's Concerto for two Pianos and Orchestra

A wonderful piece that combines energetic playfulness and soaring melodies.

41 Mendelssohn - Piano Concerto No. 2
42 Poulenc's Piano Concerto
43 Bortkiewicz Piano Concerto No. 2
44 Alexei Haieff's Piano Concerto

This piano concerto No. 1 sounds like a very exciting mix of Shostakovich pianoconcerti with a Stravinskian neoclassical style. There is only one recording available, on Naxos with Leo Smit as the soloist.

45 Saint-Saens - Piano Concerto No. 4
46 Schoenberg Piano Concerto
47 Stravinsky Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments
48 Prokofiev Concerto. No. 2

Very powerful piece of music. It moves you on so many level. First movement is amazing!

Probably the most difficult of all piano concertos, but that's not what's important.. But the great emotion Prokofiev gives us, seems like a different side of Prokofiev (quite different from the first or third concerto at least). To me it feels like anxiety and longing.

Absolutely one of the greatest underrated concertos in the repertoire. Incredible wonderful.

You need to like Metal til fully enjoy the first movement. that's probably because its higher on the list.

4 Comments
49 Dohnanyi Piano Concerto No. 1

One of the best openings!

50 J Joe Townley's Second Piano Concerto

Every movement has a beautiful theme in it, sometimes several. It's unlike anything I've ever heard in today's era of atonal noise. If you want a piano concerto that hearkens back to Rachmaninoff with his lush orchestration, big bold sounds and virtuoso piano writing definitely listen to this masterpiece. Incredible, totally beautiful piano concerto!

I love the orchestration and the virtuosic piano passages!

The Finale to Townley's Concerto No 2 is so grandiose in its scope and layout I doubt anything like it has been heard since the Brahms' 1st Concerto. I didn't realize until three minutes into the Finale that my jaw had dropped to the ground, and the recap is even more spectacular than the opening. I have listened to many modern atonal piano concertos. Most are junk. Townley's is the first I have heard that I would truly call "great". A certifiable masterpiece.

Fabulous piano concerto. This concerto deserves to stand alongside the MacDowell 2nd and the Gershwin Concerto in F as a triptych of the greatest American piano concertos.

2 Comments
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Top Remixes (6)

1. Beethoven's 5th (Emperor) Piano Concerto
2. Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto
3. Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto
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1. Beethoven's 5th (Emperor) Piano Concerto
2. Beethoven Piano Concerto no.4 in G
3. Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1
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1. Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto
2. Beethoven's 5th (Emperor) Piano Concerto
3. Mozart's 21st Piano Concerto
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