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

Beethoven's 5th piano concerto is the most beautiful, exciting and powerful piece ever written in the history of music. The opening of the 1st movement feel like a freight train just hit you going full speed. Beethoven music is always full of surprise and you never know what notes will hit you next. Always unpredictable, yet the music flow so well together as a whole piece. The last movement is probably the most exciting piece of music I've ever heard. The piano and orchestra not only complement each other, but I feel like they take turn one after the next to hit a target. The target is musical high that keep climbing to satisfying climax.

I've first heard it played at the Houston Symphony and it nearly brought down the house at the end due to the thunderous applause. This piano concerto is the piece that I actually planned my vacation in the city that it performs so I can hear it again in a concert hall.

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!

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.

2 Rachmaninov's 2nd Piano Concerto

More beautiful than the 1st or 3rd, I can listen every day and never get tired of this. As a musician, and after listening to this for years, I remained shocked by its astounding quality. Each time I listen, I simply can't imagine how he could "hear these orchestral sounds" in his brain before placing them on paper. Creating this after a prolonged depression is truly amazing. Many thanks to his physician who pulled him out of the depression, so we could enjoy the rest of his writing career (he dedicated the work to his physician.) How could he edit all these instruments "on paper," write and rewrite in the year 1900, and then hear this true masterpiece for the first time while playing with an orchestra? This concerto didn't arrive, it exploded onto the music scene at the time. Wish I had been there for the 1st public performance to see the looks on the audiences faces.

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.

This piece, in my opinion, is one of the pinnacles of absolute romanticism and beauty. The harmonies and textures he creates are absolutely amazing, the three movements work flawlessly together, and some of the piano parts are surprisingly complex. My favorite moment in the entire concerto is the end of the 2nd movement, it's one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. I get goosebumps every time!

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.

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.

I was only in my teens when I first heard this piece, my Grandfather was planning it ( at that time ) on his was the famous album of Van Cliburn's and the cold war visit in Moscow... I was young and loved rock music... What took me over I will never know but the piano concerto #1 grab me, the beautiful melodies, that powerful incredible ending I was blown away... No other classical piece I ever heard did that, I was hooked...I ask my grandfather what song was that and who could of ever written such movmg started a new love of music for me... The first time I got a chance I heard it live! My body was all chills...thank your tchaikovsky thank you for letting me take mind journeys with this concerto. Truly one of the greatest of all time

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...

To be honest, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto is probably the best one heard! Nearly 140 years ago, Tchaikovsky wrote this masterful piece for many pianists such as Lang Lang, Evengy Kissin and many others. The opening movement grabs may attention with the piano octaves and its rapid chromatic scale descending. If you have a moment you should hear the first movement that brings the entire piano concerto life.

4 Mozart's 20th Piano Concerto

I play this Concerto though my hands are a little small and I'm 10, I still enjoy playing this Concerto! It have a lot of challenges and it goes really fast, one of my most favorite challenges! This was a beautiful Concerto full of emotions that Mozart felt when his father didn't like the woman he married. This dark but marvellous piece of work from Mozart was spectacular that even Beethoven wrote a cadenza for it!

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 agree that this is Mozart's best. It's far more dramatic and exciting than the more popular 21st. When, in the 1st movement, he goes low in the register and starts the climb out, you can feel real tension and release. Beautiful...

5 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

This in my opinion is the best piece of music of any type. Maybe even the peak of human achievement. Difficult beyond belief yet beautiful. Rolling difficult passages surge beneath the main melody. Powerful some times and delicate at other times. The only thing close is Rachmaninov's 2nd and Grieg's piano concerto.

Among the best three concertos ever written. it combines drama, passion and lyricism all in one. It never fails to excite and surprise you. Your emotions come up and down like the rough sea or the blowing wind, it is not a simple concerto, it is an experience.

I have yet to hear a better version that the Volodos / Levine rendering with the Berlin Philarmonic orchestra.

Who can compete with this one? Most astonishing piece of music ever written, there is no doubt, not a sigle bar that I don't like. Coming from the very heart of a giant, this is the most intense music to be discovered. Do not start listening to classical music with this, because nothing else will satisfy you after this.

6 Schumann Piano Concerto in A Minor

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.

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.

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.

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.

8 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.

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.

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

9 Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1

This is one is not well-known enough in my opinion, but deeply adored by everyone who does know it. I have a very personal connection with this piece as it is the first concerto I grew up listening to, and the first I ever played as a soloist with orchestra. It's SO incredibly beautiful and perfectly paced and balanced �" so smooth and natural, but at the same time full of conflict; a true masterpiece of a composition. It's the most "pianistic" of any concerto I've ever heard, and that's what makes it THE quintessential piano concerto to me. After all, Chopin was the undoubted master of the piano!

No great composer had such little understanding of the orchestra as Chopin.
Having said that, I must add that no one has understood the piano quite like Chopin.

Chopin's Piano Concerto shines today not because of it's dazzling orchestration, but because of Chopin's intricate harmonies, gorgeous melodies, and his immortal soul. Generations of people will continue to listen to this masterpiece long after we're gone.

Of all the great composers, Chopin new the least about the orchestra.
With that said, no one understood the piano quite like Chopin.

Chopin's piano concerto is unforgettable not because of its dazzling orchestration, but because of it's intricate harmonies, gorgeous melodies, and Chopin's immortal soul. Countless generations will continue to listen to his music long after we're gone.

I feel like the climax of the first movement is one of the most beautifully written pieces of music known to mankind. Extraterrestrials would be able to relate.

10 Grieg's Piano Concerto

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.

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.

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

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.

The Contenders
11 Brahms Piano Concerto no.2 in B flat major

This is the concerto that started it all for me. Found a Wilhelm Backhaus recording of it on cassette and I played it constantly. I was enthralled by the beautiful melodies and the dramatic waves of music throughout this concerto. It drew me into classical music.

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 believe that Brahms 2nd is the most magnificent piano concerto ever written. It is on my list of the top 5 compositions of all time along with Beethoven's 5th symphony, Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, Schubert's 20th piano sonata and Beethoven's 13th quartet (with Grosse fugue).

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.

12 Mozart's 24th Piano Concerto

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

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

One of his best.

13 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

Jasionowski is a modernist composer with formless, tuneless ideals typical of the 20th century experimenters that have only secured the reputations of the great concertos and their creators and recreators. Throwing arbitrary notes at a page of staff paper does not a composition make. The last honest piano concerto ever written is the F major written by George Gershwin.

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.

A piffle that's a minute and a half long and is rated No 8 above the Brahms, the Chopin, several Beethoven and Mozart concertos. This is a joke, right? To the webmaster, this kind of rating shoots the credibility of your list to pieces. You should take immediate steps to restore the credibility of the list.

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.

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,

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.

15 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.

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!

Delightfully happy third movement.

The best music ever

16 Chopin Piano Concerto No. 2

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

Most virtuoso piano concerto ever written, it shows chopins sublimity in a beatiful way, PS: Zimmerman has the best version.

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

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

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

Yes, it is the best of all.

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

The 1st and 2nd movements are some of Beethoven's best work, capturing dramatic, emotional, sorrowful, and majestic emotions even better than the 5th concerto in my opinion. The 3rd movement is a bit cliché for me and doesn't move me in the same way, but it is still equal to the fifth piano concerto.

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

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

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

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

One of the most beautiful concerti ever written. Saint-Saens crushes his French rivals Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, with his brilliant themes and Orchestration. Yet he is as wild as some, but stays within generally conservative bounds.

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.

22 Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2
23 Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25

Mendelssohn is even better than Beethoven at the piano concerto. His themes and cadenzas are amazing.

Lively and melodic-a favourite.

24 Saint-Seans - Piano Concerto No. 2

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!

My favourite and one of the best (in my humble opinion) piano concertos of all time.
The opening cadenza in G minor is astonishing.
Perfect structure

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

Increcibility start, resembles Bach. First movement is a piece of art, plenty of power.

25 Mozart's 22nd Piano Concerto

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!

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!

In my opinion, this the best piano concerto ever. Leaves you floating near heavens afterwards for a very long time. Orcheatra and piano share the glory equally

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

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