Greatest Piano Concertos of All Time

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

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.

Just beautiful!

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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.

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.

An unsurpassable all-time classic and my favorite piece. It's as wild, untamed as a dire wolf; unpredictable, grand and powerful as an epic; but at the same time if you listen closely, it's deeply melancholy, full of loneliness and nostalgia, like fallen leaves of autumn. A breathtaking combination of ice and fire, and a brilliant portrayal of Rachmaninov's life journey. In my opinion, it is the only piano concerto that can goes deep into one's heart and soul.

Just the best

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3 Tchaikovsky'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

In my humble opinion... As a young adult the first time I heard Tchaikovskys #1 I was hooked, Its melodies, its complexity, its restlessness... I couldn't hear it enough... One day I caught my grandfather listening to it... I didn't know it was his favorite piece too... He told me he can't listen to it without experiencing wonderful mind journeys and brain stimulations..he was a classical music lover and said this was the greatest composition he had ever heard...

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4 Rachmaninov'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.

It's full of beautiful notes, very rich in sounds

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5 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!

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

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6 Mozart'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.

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7 Mozart'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.

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8 Grieg'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.

Griegs most well known and best composition. - plmilligan1968

I'm not an expert by any means, and I totally agree with Beethoven 5 being at the top, just I don't get how Grieg's is so low.

You have my vote, Sir.

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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

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~

Simply the best, better than all the rest!

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10 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.

No. 1

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The Contenders

11 Modern 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.

Utterly brilliant

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12 Brahms 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.

The best!

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13 Mozart Piano Concerto No.23

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

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!

14 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

The most complete concerto by Mozart

One of his best.

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15 Chopin 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

Nobody knows how to play it, only kristian zimerman with polish festival orchestra, amazing performance

16 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

17 Beethoven 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

No. 1 for me- not only piano conerto. It's the best piece ever!

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18 Beethoven'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

Most powerful melody ever heard! (First movement)

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19 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.

20 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.

V 1 Comment
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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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