Best Classical Pianists Of All Time: Top 25

Discover our selection of the best classical pianists of all time featuring legendary virtuosos and today’s young stars.

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Who are the best classical pianists of all time? We’ve discussed and debated and compiled our list of the greatest pianists featuring legendary virtuosos, including Sergei Rachmaninov, Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubenstein, and today’s dazzling young stars, including Lang Lang, Yuja Wang and Benjamin Grosvenor.

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25: Yuja Wang (b.1987)

Born in Beijing, the Chinese pianist Yuja Wang studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and has built a stratospheric international career on an often astounding and extremely versatile approach to pianistic virtuosity. Her breakthrough moment arrived when, aged 20, she replaced Martha Argerich at short notice in Boston. Her playing impresses with its brilliance, vigor, projection, lightness, and exactitude; today she is celebrated from Beethoven solo sonatas to chamber music (she has performed and recorded in excellent partnership with the clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer). In 2019 she was the soloist for the world premiere of a fiendish new piano concerto by John Adams entitled Must The Devil Have All The Good Tunes?

Gustavo Dudamel, Yuja Wang & LA Phil – Adams: I. Gritty, Funky, But in strict Tempo

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24: Lang Lang (b.1982)

After a difficult early childhood as a piano prodigy (his story is told in his autobiography Playing With Flying Keys), the Chinese megastar Lang Lang studied in America at the Curtis Institute and was internationally famous by the age of 17. He has always been celebrated for his uniquely communicative approach to the piano and his unquenchable virtuosity. His embrace of popular culture and fashion has helped him to reach younger audiences beyond core classical fans; and over the years, he has devoted much time and energy to encouraging young people worldwide to study the piano, notably starting the Lang Lang International Music Foundation to support music education. The so-called ‘Lang Lang effect’ has reportedly inspired millions of children to take up the piano.

Lang Lang - Feed The Birds from "Mary Poppins"

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23: Benjamin Grosvenor (b.1992)

Grosvenor, from Southend-on-Sea, reached the final of the 2004 BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition as an extraordinary child prodigy aged just 11. Today he is forging an international career, achieving rave reviews around the world for his blend of brilliance, sensitivity, humor, insight, and beauty of tone – a colorful cocktail that often finds him compared to the great pianists of the golden age. In 2011 he became the youngest soloist ever to have performed at the First Night of the Proms. With his fondness for unusual and neglected fine piano music, he often champions works by such composers as Medtner, Kapustin, and Moszkowski, alongside the standard repertoire.

Benjamin Grosvenor - Liszt: Ave Maria, S. 558 (after Schubert, D. 839)

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22: Daniil Trifonov (b.1991)

In 2010-11 this dazzling young Russian pianist hit the headlines with a double triumph, winning the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and the Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv within weeks of each other. His remarkable musicianship has since won him a worldwide following. His interpretations are vividly imagined, immensely sensitive, and thrilling in their energy, putting him potentially in line with the finest of his forerunners: these qualities are shown to magnificent effect in repertoire such as Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes, the music of Chopin, and that of Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and Scriabin. Trifonov, one of the greatest pianists, is also a composer and has performed his own piano concerto to much acclaim.

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 - II. Adagio sostenuto

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21: Evgeny Kissin (b.1971)

Beginning his career as a child prodigy, Kissin stunned audiences both in his native Russia and in the West when, at the age of 12, he played and recorded the Chopin piano concertos with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. Since then, he has enjoyed a remarkably seamless and consistent career at the very top of the pianistic tree. Among notable moments, he gave the first-ever solo recital at the BBC Promenade Concerts in London in 1997. He has also published a number of engaging compositions for piano and for string quartet, given recitations of poetry in Russian and Yiddish, and written a volume of Yiddish stories, poems, and translations. His pianism is notable for its poetic flow, its depth of tone quality, and its sheer conceptual scale.

Evgeny Kissin – Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23 In F Minor, Op. 57 „Appassionata“

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20: Alfred Brendel (b.1931)

Brendel, one of the best classical pianists, rose to fame gradually, his breakthrough arriving in a recital of Beethoven at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. While he has been primarily associated with Beethoven ever since, his repertoire extends from Bach to Schoenberg, and his keen intellect and ready wit have found outlets in his distinctive approaches to such composers as Haydn, Liszt, and the Lieder repertoire, in which he worked frequently with the late Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. He is also a noted author of books on music and several volumes of poetry. Although Brendel has officially retired from concert life, he is still a familiar figure on stage, giving lectures on Schubert and Beethoven, among others.

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Op. 73 "Emperor" - I. Allegro

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19: Mitsuko Uchida (b.1948)

The child prodigy daughter of a Japanese diplomat, Uchida grew up largely in Vienna, where she gave her first recital aged 14. She has remained principally associated with the Viennese classics, renowned for her performances and recordings of Schubert, Mozart, and Beethoven, as well as the works of the Second Viennese School’s Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern – plus Schumann, Debussy, and more. A highly expressive yet finely controlled performer, with a vibrant immediacy of touch and the capacity to create enveloping atmospheres in just a few notes, she has been showered with honors including the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society and, in 2009, a DBE.

18: Daniel Barenboim (b.1942)

Barenboim has always run his two careers as conductor and pianist concurrently, his expertise in each feeding into the other. His first piano teacher in his native Buenos Aires was his father, and he made his public debut aged seven. By 26, he had recorded the complete Beethoven sonatas. At the piano, his musicianship is infused with the same intellectual rigor, feel for colour, and communicative identification of emotion and sound that one finds in his conducting. His performances of series such as the complete Beethoven or Schubert piano sonatas and his conducting of Wagner’s Ring Cycle have proved historic occasions over the years.

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27 No. 2 - "Moonlight" - I. Adagio sostenuto

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17: Murray Perahia (b.1947)

Perahia, one of the greatest pianists, was born in the Bronx and won the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1972. His influences range from the twilit, poetic playing of his chief pianist mentor, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, to the dynamism of Horowitz, to whom he played on many occasions; he recalls that Horowitz told him: “If you want to be more than a virtuoso, first be a virtuoso”. A further crucial influence is Heinrich Schenker’s system of musical analysis, which Perahia applies to both the music he performs and his masterclass teaching, often with inspiring results. Ultimately, though, it is his poetic quality that has won him the public’s hearts: his lightness of touch, the beauty and intimacy of his tone, and his unfailingly sensible and sensitive outlook.

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-Flat Major, Op. 106 - "Hammerklavier" - I. Allegro

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16: András Schiff (b.1953)

Schiff, one of the best classical pianists, has a special ‘grand master’ status among today’s leading pianists. Born in Budapest, the son of Holocaust survivors, he trained at the Franz Liszt Academy; he also studied in the UK with George Malcolm, a major influence on his playing of Bach, the composer with whom he has always been most associated. Blessed with extraordinary stamina and memory, he has a hearty appetite for presenting complete musical cycles, and has over the years performed the whole of Bach’s Clavierübung, all the Schubert sonatas, the chamber music of Brahms, a Bartók and Haydn series, and the 32 Beethoven sonatas. Schiff has a rare purity of sound, a singing, airy tone that is instantly recognizable, and a wide repertoire that extends to the present day; in recent years, he has also recorded on the fortepiano.

J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988 - Var. 1 a 1 Clav.

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15: Krystian Zimerman (b.1956)

When in 1975 he became the youngest pianist to have yet won the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, and the first Pole in many a year, Zimerman shot straight to international fame: he swept the board with his special blend of refulgent tone, attention to detail, supreme control and overwhelming intensity of emotion. He gives a limited number of concerts each year and has made relatively few recordings, though his existing ones remain catalog favorites and often benchmarks. In 1988 he gave the world premiere of Lutosławski’s fiendishly complex Piano Concerto, which was written for him, and has since recorded it twice. His most recent recordings include Schubert’s two final sonatas, Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety,” and his landmark recording of Beethoven’s Complete Piano Concertos with Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Krystian Zimerman – Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major, Op. 73: II. Adagio un poco moto

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14: Martha Argerich (b.1941)

The extraordinary Martha Argerich, one of the greatest pianists, was born in Buenos Aires and made her debut aged 8, achieving international acclaim after winning the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1965. She brings a fiery energy and deep sense of perspective to the pieces she performs; her virtuosity is unstinting, but it is her freshness and sheer passion for music that truly sets her apart. Argerich has something of a reputation for canceling concerts, but has not been without her fair share of health issues, having been treated for melanoma in 1990. Despite her classic solo recordings, she now eschews recitals in favor of concertos and chamber music, preferring to share the stage with friends.

Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11 - II. Romance. Larghetto

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13: Grigory Sokolov (b.1950)

Heir to the great Russian pianists of the Soviet era, especially Gilels, Sokolov’s rise to fame has been lengthy yet profound. He won the 1966 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow aged only 16, but his career was slow to achieve recognition outside the USSR for many years, he was not permitted to travel. Now he has acquired a cult following and is regarded by his fans as today’s greatest pianist. He has a kaleidoscopic variety of both repertoire and sonic imagination, with the ability to transfigure music from Couperin to Prokofiev and beyond with a superhuman quality – exceptionally delicate and clear at one extreme and, at the other, positively titanic. Most of his recordings are from live performances.

Grigory Sokolov – Haydn: Keyboard Sonata No. 47 in B Minor Hob XVI 32 III. Finale Presto (#WPD2022)

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12: Radu Lupu (1945-2022)

Born in Romania in 1945, Radu Lupu was admired for interpretations of great wisdom, beauty, and quietude. A student of the renowned pedagogue Heinrich Neuhaus in Moscow, he first came to prominence in the late 1960s, winning three prestigious contests within three years, culminating in the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1969. His recordings for Decca show him shining in the heartlands of his repertoire, the Austro-German classics such as Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert, and Schumann. An elusive character who avoids publicity, he was regarded as something of a maverick genius.

Brahms: 6 Piano Pieces, Op. 118 - No. 2, Intermezzo in A Major

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11: Clara Haskil (1895-1960)

A pianist of immense warmth and unfailing inspiration, Clara Haskil, one of the best classical pianists, had a difficult life indeed. She was born in Bucharest and trained in Paris, where she won the Conservatoire’s premier prix aged 15. But her early career was blighted by progressive scoliosis of the spine; she was frequently ill and desperately nervous as a performer. Her repute only began to build in earnest after World War II. She was particularly celebrated for the Viennese classics, most of all Mozart. Charlie Chaplin, a friend, once declared: “In my lifetime I have met three geniuses; Professor Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Clara Haskil. I am not a trained musician, but I can only say that her touch was exquisite, her expression wonderful, and her technique extraordinary.”

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, K.488 - 1. Allegro

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10: Myra Hess (1890-1965)

Dame Myra Hess became the doyenne of British pianists – and, furthermore, a national heroine when she spearheaded a series of daily lunchtime concerts in the National Gallery during World War II. Her popularity was strong in the US, too; she visited the country around 40 times, always by ship. Trained in London with Tobias Mathay, Hess was ferociously intelligent and determined, acquiring a reputation for absolute seriousness of purpose, a rich and transparent tone, and a deep-thinking, generous and spiritual approach to music from Bach to late Brahms. Despite her somewhat austere outward image (she always wore black for her concerts), she possessed a razor-sharp wit, revealed in recorded interviews with the late John Amis and others. Her recorded legacy is not particularly large, as she disliked the process, but what there is is cherished by her admirers.

Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: No. 10, Jesus bleibet meine Freude (Arr. M. Hess for...

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9: Glenn Gould (1932-1982)

Few pianists have ever achieved such a cult following as the elusive Canadian Glenn Gould, one of the greatest pianists. His extraordinary if quirky intelligence and imagination led him in unusual directions: after an impressive start to his performing career, he withdrew from the concert platform entirely and devoted himself to recording. While other artists might miss the effects of adrenaline away from a live audience, Gould saw the recording studio as the best way to exploit his musical perfectionism. Famed for his hypochondria, his low seat at the piano, and his eclectic brilliance of thought, his fascinating character has attracted attention from numerous different filmmakers. Though his repertoire was huge, as was the number of his recordings, it is for his Bach playing that he is best remembered today.

Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Aria

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8: Emil Gilels (1916-1985)

Gilels’ special sound was all his own, deep and virtually orchestral in its range and richness. His fame began to rise when he won the Ysaÿe International Festival’s Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 1938, but soon his career plans had to be put on hold due to the outbreak of war. During the years of hostilities, he gave the world premiere of Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 8 in Moscow in 1944. It was only in 1955 that he was able to make his US debut, becoming one of the first Soviet artists permitted to travel to the west. His repertoire was less varied than his compatriot Richter’s, centering on the Viennese classics. Although he was venerated for his playing of Brahms and Beethoven, one of his most celebrated recordings was of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces.

Grieg: Lyric Pieces Book V, Op. 54 - No. 4 Notturno

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7: Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950)

The death of Dinu Lipatti at the age of only 33 robbed the world of one of its best-loved classical pianists. His playing displayed a profound sense of love for the music, a pure, focused, simple beauty that lets the works shine out unencumbered. Lipatti was born into a musical family in Bucharest; the great George Enescu was his godfather, and he studied with Cortot, among others. Hampered first by the outbreak of World War II and then by the illness that was to kill him, Hodgkin’s disease, Lipatti forged a short career of about 15 years. Too ill in his last recital to play the final Chopin waltz, he replaced it with Myra Hess’s transcription of Bach’s ‘Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring’.

Waltz No. 7 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 64 No. 2

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6: Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997)

Richter’s repertoire was vast, and he offered interpretations to match: magnificent conceptions on an epic scale, with a focus on absolute fidelity to the composers’ intentions. He once said that he viewed the interpreter as really an executant, carrying out the composer’s intentions to the letter: “He doesn’t add anything that isn’t already in the work. If he is talented, he allows us to glimpse the truth of the work that is in itself a thing of genius and that is reflected in him. He shouldn’t dominate the music, but should dissolve into it.” Richter did not leave the USSR, but toured regularly in the west. His legacy includes an enormous discography, much of it from live performances.

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor, Op. 23, TH. 55 - I. Allegro non troppo e...

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5: Alfred Cortot (1877-1962)

Cortot, one of the greatest pianists, possessed one of the most beautiful, clear, singing tones of any classical pianist on record. Poetry seems embedded in the very sound of his freely eloquent style. The Swiss-born pianist’s sense of drama and narrative was perhaps heightened by his experience as a conductor and operatic repetiteur, not least at Cosima Wagner’s Bayreuth; and he conducted the Paris premiere of Götterdämmerung. He was famous, too, for his superlative piano trio with Jacques Thibaud (violin) and Pablo Casals (cello); and, perhaps paradoxically, for plentiful wrong notes (he reputedly disliked practicing!). His interpretations, though, reach a height and breadth of expression that remains legendary.

24 Preludes, Op. 28: No. 16 in B-Flat Minor

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4: Artur Schnabel (1882-1951)

Born in what is now Poland and raised in Vienna, Schnabel was a student of the great piano pedagogue Theodor Leschetizky. He established a top-level career as soloist and chamber musicians and from 1925 was a sought-after professor of piano in Berlin until he was forced to flee the Nazi regime in 1933, moving first to America and much later to Switzerland. His playing features an ideal balance of intellect and feeling, rigor and flair, and he is most celebrated for his interpretations of the Viennese classics. He was the first artist to record the complete cycle of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas.

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109 - 2. Prestissimo

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3: Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982)

Rubinstein’s zest for life and irresistible charm permeated his music-making. Born in Poland, he was a gifted child, making his debut at seven and much encouraged by the violinist Joseph Joachim, friend to Brahms and Schumann. He spent World War I in London and moved to America shortly before World War II. Having relied on natural talent for most of his youth, he decided to reinvent his technique with a period of intensive practice in 1932. His Chopin playing is often regarded as unparalleled, and works written for him included some of Szymanowski’s piano music, Manuel de Falla’s Fantasia Bética, and Stravinskys Trois Mouvements De Petrouchka (transcribed from the ballet score). His recordings bear witness to his exceptional vitality and uncomplicated, direct and genuine approach to music-making.

Nocturnes, Op. 9: No. 2 in E-Flat Major. Andante

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2: Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989)

There was only one Horowitz: a pianist with a positively Himalayan range of expression, a virtuoso flair, and a feverish visionary quality unlike any before or since. Born in Kiev, Horowitz left the USSR in 1925 to study with Artur Schnabel in Berlin, but never returned. His US debut in 1928 propelled him straight to international stardom. Troubled by personal crises and allegedly episodes of addiction to anti-depressants and other substances, Horowitz had his ups and downs, and underwent electric shock therapy for depression in the 1940s. Few who encountered him and his playing could emerge unmoved or, indeed, unshaken by his towering artistry.

Schumann: Kreisleriana, Op. 16 - 4. Sehr langsam

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1: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)

Considered by many the greatest pianist of them all, Rachmaninov was first and foremost a composer, hailed in Russia as the natural successor to Tchaikovsky, who championed him. But after fleeing the Revolution of 1917, he settled in Switzerland and later the US, making his living as a touring pianist, in which capacity he was in immense demand. His recordings are peerless examples of exquisite tone, poised musicality, and deep wellsprings of feeling. His performances of his own works show that they are much maligned by interpreters who crash and emote through them; his interpretations, by contrast, are cool and controlled.

Rachmaninoff: Elegie in E-Flat Minor, Op. 3, No. 1

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Format: Union Jack flagUK English


  1. Diana T

    January 29, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    It’s a shame to see lists of best classical pianists which don’t include names like Michail Pletnev (or Nikolai Lugansky, Boris Berezovsky, Ivo Pogorelich, Tatiana Nikolaeva) and include Lang Lang and Yuja Wang…

    • Geraldine

      February 2, 2020 at 2:08 pm

      I agree with you re Mikhail Pletnev who seems to have been side stepped a lot recently as does Nikolai Lugansky. Rachmaninoff at No.1 is probably right but who can really tell us now? We only have recordings and say-so but I am a Rachmaninoff fan so would surely agree with he choice. Lang Lang in here?

      • Geraldine

        February 2, 2020 at 2:13 pm

        Adding to my previous comments. I believe out of all pianists, Martha Argerich is probably the best. She is truly a great pianist.

        • michelle

          June 10, 2020 at 5:00 pm

          half agree

    • Geoff Freeburn

      March 5, 2020 at 11:15 am

      I agree totally. I love Yuja Wang she is exceptional but no competition to Lugansky and Ashkanazy in fact I think on many Rachmaninov pieces by Richter, Lugansky and Ashkanay make a better job as a pianist than Rachmaninov. As a COMPOSER Rach reigns supreme

  2. Stephen Fried

    January 29, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    Love these lists but always mystified that pollini is never included. Annie fisher deserves consideration as well. I embrace the inclusion of the new generation.

  3. John

    January 29, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    Surprising that none of Rudolph Serkin, Claudio Arrau, Vladimir Ashkenazy, or Maurizio Pollini made it. And Victor Borge for his recording of the old Danish folk songs.

    • Xavier

      December 24, 2020 at 7:17 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. I don’t know who wrote the list, but it seems to me that there are too many glaring omissions to consider it a serious list.

  4. Andres

    January 30, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    This is the problem when we talk about who’s the greatest or best. And although I do agree with some of the names on this list, some people have pointed out and rightly leaving out some truly great pianists. Disappointed that Annie Fischer is not on this list.

  5. Steve M mitchell

    January 31, 2020 at 12:51 am

    Franz Liszt is not one of top 25 pianists of all time but Radu Lupu is?

    • vasile florian

      May 29, 2020 at 10:52 pm

      we don t know Liszt or Chopin but we know Rachmaninov.20 pianists of our days are better

  6. Ted

    January 31, 2020 at 2:49 am

    cannot, must not leave out Byron Janis.To easily we forget the older masters for more contemporary favorites

  7. Dwayne

    January 31, 2020 at 7:38 am

    Earl Wild. Legend. One of the best….most certainly the best the United States has produced. Why isn’t he on here?

  8. Andiuke

    January 31, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    What about Clara Wieck – Schumann?! Who’s making those lists?!…

    • e

      January 31, 2020 at 3:45 pm

      Deutsche Grammophon, apparently.

  9. g. ruqt

    January 31, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    Is the list composed by listeners who have heard live concerts? Obviously not however have any contributors to the list heard any live concerts?

    Omitting Richard Goode, Rudolf Serkin, Leif Andnes, Peter Serkin ….

    Prefer not to denigrate any on list however I expect professional musicians would be happy to do so.

  10. Alfonso Rivero

    January 31, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    What about Rudolf Serkin?

  11. Lisa Bradshaw

    February 8, 2020 at 10:56 pm

    If you are considering pianism, not grandiosity, you should add:
    William Kapell, Angela Hewitt, Ingrid Fliter, Till Fellner.

    Seems the names are only those who made recordings. Anton Rubenstein? Many others.

  12. Victoria J

    February 16, 2020 at 5:06 am

    Lang Lang instead of Leon Fleisher, Gary Graffman?

  13. Ingrid Varnell

    April 20, 2020 at 8:17 am

    What about Marc Andre Hamelin- the marvelous French-Canadian virtuoso?! And great, sensitive musician!

  14. michelle

    June 10, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    i think the choices are good

  15. Neil

    July 20, 2020 at 5:41 am

    Lang Lang and Yuja Wang and no Vladimir Ashkenazy. Quite pathetic, but not surprising in 2020 when key stompers seem to be more validated than true interpreters of the composer.

  16. Sheila McLaren

    August 12, 2020 at 4:31 am

    How on earth could you include Lang Lang? For one thing, his recent performance of the Aria from The Goldberg Variations shows that he doesn’t have a clue about Bach. It is the most disgraceful claptrap of interpretation I have ever heard. No Vladimir Ashkenazy? No Marta Argerich? This is just stupid.

  17. John Miller

    January 22, 2021 at 6:13 am

    If the list doesn’t include William Kapell it is a false list.

    • Natalia

      March 26, 2021 at 1:01 pm

      I also would live to have seen on the list Maria João Pires if the list was bigger probably… There are lots of great ones!
      Thank you for great listing, mixing old and new one takent.

  18. TonyK

    February 2, 2021 at 4:12 am

    So, Yuja Wang and Lang Lang are better than Ashkenazy, Kempff and Cziffra? Excuse me while I fall off my chair laughing.

  19. David Edwards

    March 28, 2021 at 12:30 am

    This list is a joke, as many have already said. To omit Pollini, Ashkenazy, Arrau, Kovacevich, Michelangeli, Kapell, both Serkins, Pires, Richard Goode and many others is absurd. Kissin and Lang Lang make the cut but Kempff, Solomon and Annie Fischer do not? Come on! Compiling such lists is generally a pretty stupid exercise, but that is exceptionally true of this one.

  20. Donald Allen

    June 17, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    Yes, absolutely right. Add Josef Hofmann and Josef Lhevinne to your list (Liszt?) of the missing. There are more (e.g., Benno Moiseivitsch, Ferruccio Busoni), but I’ll stop in the interest of not being here all day.

  21. Victor Yanez Arancibia

    June 23, 2021 at 8:19 pm

    A top25 ranking like this -without Claudio Arrau- does not seem neat to me

  22. Richard Westerdale

    October 10, 2021 at 10:03 pm

    It is extremely doubtful that you or anyone else could correctly compile a list of the twenty-five greatest pianists. You would have to have an encyclopedic familiarity with vinyl and CD recordings, on-line recordings, and live performances, not to mention the fact that many pianists pre-date the invention of recordings.

  23. Mike

    December 10, 2021 at 4:52 am

    No Wilhelm Kempff or Vladimir Ashkenazy on the list, but Lang Lang? It’s a joke!!
    And wait a minute, Barenboim as 18th, while Alfred Brendel 20th? How ranked these? :))

  24. Mike

    December 10, 2021 at 4:54 am

    *I meant “Who ranked these”

  25. James Hafford

    December 11, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    Pianist rankings are an exercise in futility. Can we all please agree they each, in their own way, provide sublime pleasure.

  26. Carlos de la Barra

    January 4, 2022 at 7:33 pm

    Any roster that does not include Nikita Magaloff, Claudio Arrau, Wilhelm Backhaus and many others is shorteared, bad faith and no hearing! Or else he or she is paid by Deutsche Gramophon!

  27. Carlos de la Barra García

    January 4, 2022 at 8:02 pm

    I add the following quote:”A little history. Polygram, the parent company of DG, took over Decca (called London in the US) and Philips in 1978, I think. The three have been a single company since then. (Notice that DG, Philips and Decca CDs are numbered using the same system.) For a while they allowed all three labels to operate more or less independently and kept a strict firewall between the labels (no mixed label reissues, etc). In 1999 (I think) they closed the independent offices of Philips and consolidated with Decca. (The people who ran Philips founded the label Pentatone). A few years ago (maybe 2008?) the independent offices of Decca were closed and consolidated with DG. Two years ago their license to use the Philips trademark expired, although Philips had ceased to have any independent existance years before, and they re-branded Philips recordings as Decca.

    Another quirk is that American Decca split from British Decca in 1942 (hence the use of the “London” trademark for British Decca in the US) but after UMG and MCA merged around 2000 the two Decca came under the same management again and British Decca could again be called “Decca” in the US.

    At this point, I think there is little distinction between any of the UMG labels. They still preserve the DG vs Decca distinction in reissues and for artists on their roster, but I think they are essentially under unified management now. Decca no longer has independent production facilities, so there is no distinctive “Decca Sound” anymore.”!!!!

  28. larry moyer

    January 28, 2022 at 7:38 pm

    Who would even dare make such a list and leave off ALICIA DE LA ROCHA WHAT MUSICAL PLANET ARE YOU FROM?

  29. Sophie

    January 30, 2022 at 5:36 pm

    I love Lang Lang,but why Yuja Wang and Trifonov is here? without Ashkenazy.

  30. jonathan vroman

    February 7, 2022 at 9:01 pm


  31. Blubb

    June 9, 2022 at 8:29 am

    I am not an expert like so many others here, but I enjoy reading the comments, where 10 experts come up with their own lists. these lists often don’t overlap but everyone is sure he/she is the one who knows the truth.

    I love it.

    It is just like with a list of the 100 best red wines. No person on earth has been able to taste them all, so his/her top 100 automatically is based on what he/she has tasted. And so such a list would be the result of knowledge, heavily influenced by the personal taste. And therfor such a list always would be right or wrong – just like the 25 pianists mentioned here by person 1, just to be corrected by a ton of experts.

  32. Dimitri Ashkenazy

    June 16, 2022 at 8:38 pm

    I find it questionable to include on this list pianists who are quite likely still in the first half of their lives, not to mention their careers or artistic development. Grosvenor, Yuja Wang, Trifonov, Lang Lang, for all their prowess and/or current impact, are simply still not comparable in their scope to, for example, Michelangeli, Wilhelm Kempff, de Larrocha, Pires, and many others. What about Gieseking, Van Cliburn, or, in terms of their influence on future pianism, Liszt, Chopin, Moscheles..? Clara Wieck?

  33. Rach On

    November 24, 2022 at 9:55 am


    The End.

  34. George

    December 13, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    We all have our favorites. IMHO Cziffra, Ashkenazy, and the young Sasha Malofeev are missing. Others too numerous to mention have supplied us with fuel to keep the subjective flame burning.

  35. Edward Esparza

    April 5, 2023 at 10:24 pm

    A list does not include Van Cliburn, Rudolph Serkin and Claudio Arrau cannot be taken seriously!!

    I do agree with the top three selections!

  36. Pianist1

    April 12, 2023 at 10:28 pm

    These lists are stupid! A list without Arrau or Michelangeli or Moiseivitsch et al– we could go on forever.

    But to exclude Pletnev just because he prefers the company of boys in bed is some bourgeois hangup.

  37. Ernesto7608

    May 8, 2023 at 7:41 pm

    I would gladly let Yuja Wang and Lang Lang fall off the end of the list, in favor of great Wilhelm Kempff and also Yundi Li.

  38. Trevor Synge-Perrin

    August 13, 2023 at 7:03 pm

    . A good list, but I Agee with post – including pianists 1/2 way through, or not much more than, is well.. making things unnecessarily difficult. we could leave out the youngsters, e.g. Benjamin Grosvenor & include pianists whose careers span a lifetime of performing, evolving, teaching & achievement: John Ogden (tho’ sadly his playing life was curtailed by illness) Edwin Fischer, Ronald Smith & even Marc-Andre Hamblin unique & still, blessedly, alive. Also we must applaud these musicians who promote the works of neglected pianist-composers – as did Hamelin & Smith Ch.V. Alkan (& others)- now thanks to them, a staple of every pianist’s repertoire, & Alan Schiller who champions lesser known composers. Ultimately, great pianists are as individual as their fingerprints, we need every one of them, all bringing different facets of the scores to life.

  39. Alex Tsymbal

    August 27, 2023 at 2:01 pm

    Sad not to see both Kempfs, Mark Salman, Lisitsa, Ashkenazy. A rather subjective picking!

  40. Barbara Rosen

    October 18, 2023 at 2:32 am

    To the fellow who said where is Yuchan Lim,though I think these lists are impossible to compile,Yuchan Lim is not ready to be declared one of the world’s greatest.Let him earn his stripes.What about his compatriot Seong-Jin Choi,the first Korean to win one of the world’s most prestigious competitions,the Chopin concertising around the world since – and it may be early for him to be on such a list. So many great pianists are left off. Rudolph Serkin, Grammy winner;head of piano department Curtis, he influenced many painists such as Yefim Bronfam also not on the “list”.There are easily 25 more,and 25 more you left off any many would question Glen Gould, Lang Lang. Impossible to make sense of…

  41. Annette Molesworth

    January 22, 2024 at 7:27 am

    Please consider Sasha Malofeev!

  42. T

    February 12, 2024 at 3:25 pm

    AWhoever compiled this list has gone by reputation and fame. It is obviously NOT by listening to a few hundred pianists. If it were then it would be a different list.

  43. Ignace Erauw

    February 13, 2024 at 4:40 am

    None sense toplist.
    Including Yuyu and Lang is a colossal shame.
    Thereby missing Marc-Andre Hamelin, and Pletnev indeed.
    Including Barenboim so high is troublesome. Daniel had a quite limited repertoire giving preference to conducting.
    I do not know about Cortot and Schnabel… much examples of both pianists we lack.

    But the list should go about the last 50 years.

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