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16 Wacky Facts About the World’s Most Famous Piano Players [Infographic]

May 10, 2022

16 Wacky Facts About the World’s Most Famous Piano Players [Infographic]

Have you ever heard of Bach, Beethoven, or Brahms? These are three of the most famous piano players in the world. But what do you really know about them? 

If you’re learning how to play piano, chances are, you’ve come across the works of well-known piano players, such as Rachmaninov, Beethoven, and Chopin.

But beyond their music, do you know anything about these famous pianists?

With today’s stereotype of classical music being for the fancy and well-mannered, it may surprise you to find out the colorful histories behind some of your favorite musicians and composers. From odd habits to hysterical fans, it turns out that the wild stories behind these pop artists are nothing new.

Some of the most interesting tidbits of composers’ lives are often reflected in their music. For example, Rachmaninov’s enormous hands explain why his compositions are full of wide reaches on the piano. Also, one might wonder how Beethoven’s hearing loss affected his scores. Was he able to tune out the world to create masterpieces?

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Check out the infographic below to learn interesting facts about the world’s most well-known piano players from different eras.

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Who Are Some of the Most Famous Piano Players?

No list of famous piano player facts would be complete without listing some of the most famous piano players first! They are:

  • Sergei Rachmaninov
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Franz Liszt
  • Frédéric Chopin
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Franz Schubert
  • Arthur Rubinstein
  • Glenn Gould
  • Vladimir Horowitz
  • Claudio Arrau

Here’s a video with details on 15 more of the best and most famous piano players of all time:

Want to become one of the greats yourself? It all starts with taking piano lessons! Sign up for piano classes today to learn from a talented and hands-on instructor. 

16 Wacky Facts About the World’s Most Famous Piano Players

Did you know that some of the world’s most famous pianists started playing the piano at a very young age? Or that they often have a passion for music that drives them to practice for hours each day? Here are some other interesting facts about the world’s most famous piano players!

1. Sergei Rachmaninov

Rachmaninov is described by music lovers as one of the most brilliant pianists, conductors, and composers of all time. It’s no wonder Rachmaninov was such a talented piano player, as it’s rumored that he had enormous hands that could span 12 piano keys.

2. Ludwig van Beethoven

A virtuoso pianist and one of the most influential composers of all time, Beethoven penned dozens of famous concertos that continue to inspire classical music fans. Though he was known for improvising, Beethoven started losing his hearing at the early age of 25. In letters, he would describe how much this conditioned challenged him. “My ears sing and buzz constantly, day and night,” he wrote.

3. Franz Liszt

19th century Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist, Liszt was known for his intense performances. Much like the Beatles, Liszt had thousands of devoted fans who would turn hysterical during his performances.

4. Frédéric Chopin

One of the most well-known piano players of all time was hardly seen playing live. Chopin composed some of the most beloved piano pieces ever, but he only gave 30 public performances during his entire lifetime.

5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Who doesn’t think of classical music when they hear the name “Mozart”? While he might have been known for his musicality, Mozart was also famous for his toilet humor. Composing and performing in front of royalty by the age of five, Mozart’s whirlwind musical life lasted only 35 years. Though his music kept evolving throughout his life, apparently his sense of humor did not!

6. Franz Schubert

While Schubert had a short career, he made an astounding contribution to classical music, having written more than 20,000 bars of music. Standing at a mere five foot one, Schubert was given the nickname “Schwammerl,” which means little mushroom.

7. Arthur Rubinstein

With remarkable technique and musical logic, Rubinstein was beloved all over the world. He had the reputation of being a grand storyteller, and was also fluent in eight languages, including English, Polish, Russian, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

8. Glenn Gould

Known for his interpretations of Bach, Gould lived a very eccentric life. He was a hypochondriac with obsessive personality traits. For example, he wore gloves and an overcoat no matter the temperature. He also insisted on performing on the same chair throughout his entire career.

9. Vladimir Horowitz

Considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, Horowitz was best known for his performance of works during the Romantic era. Horowitz’s father believed in his talent so much that he changed his age on his certificate so that he wouldn’t be enlisted in military service.

10. Claudio Arrau

Known for his interpretations of other pianists on this list such as Beethoven, Bach, Schubert, Chopin, and Liszt, Arrau is considered one of the best pianists that ever lived. Born in Chile, Arrau was the definition of a child prodigy. In fact, he could read music before he could read words.

11. Leif Ove Andsnes 

This famous Norwegian pianist is, without a doubt, one of the youngest on his list. He is one of the most famous modern piano players, too.

Born only in 1970, Andsnes has won countless awards, including the Hindemith Prize Frankfurt and the Royal Philharmonic Society Award. He has also been nominated for the Grammy Awards eight times!

12. Martha Argerich

Martha Argerich, born in 1941 is a famous Argetinian pianist who won the International Chopin Piano Competition at the age of 24. Fun fact – she can sell out a concert in just a few minutes. 

13. Vladimir Ashkenazy

With a vast catalog of recordings, Vladimir Ashkenazy is a true heavyweight in classical music. Born in Russia he holds both Swiss and Icelandic citizenship. Despite his age (he’s in his 80s!) He still performs as a pianist and conductor around the world on a regular basis. 

14. Daniel Barenboim

Barneboim is known for founding the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra with Edward Said. He’s brought together musicians from all over the Middle East and has also produced some of the most beautiful piano music the world has ever known! Born to Jewish parents in Argentina, he started piano lessons at the young age of five – and his father was his only teacher his entire life!

15. Alfred Brendel

Alfred Brendel has unique interpretations of classical composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn, and more. He was the first ever performer to record the complete solo piano works of Beethoven!

16. Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington is one of the most famous jazz piano players of all time. He was a pivotal figure in the history of jazz, despite his short 60 years on the planet. He started sneaking into Frank Holiday’s Poolroom at the age of fourteen, which is when he started to take his piano playing seriously. He wrote his first composition, the “Soda Fountain Rag,” while working at the Poodle Dog Cafe! 

More Famous Piano Players Facts

Curious about piano player facts in general – perhaps not even about the greats? You’ll be interested to learn these fun facts about pianists, then.

  • Piano players use their brains more effectively – from knowing how to use both hands independently to memorizing sheet music, playing piano requires a lot of concentration and brain power.
  • Pianists can express themselves better  – people who play the piano are better able to express themselves in a creative, artistic way.
  • Piano players are better at multitasking – again, having to focus on multiple things (including posture, tempo, independent hand movement, and more!) While playing piano is a surefire way to improve your multitasking skills! 
  • They are happier  – it’s true! Check out this study.
  • People who play piano are more disciplined – playing the piano requires a lot of practice and commitment, to say the least.

What better reason could you have to start taking piano lessons ASAP?

Who is the Most Famous Piano Player Now?

Here’s one more piano player fact worth knowing – the most famous piano player today!

It’s definitely up for debate, but some of the best include Mitsuko Uchida, Lang Lang, Marc-André Hamelin, and Pavel Zarukin

These are just a few interesting facts about the world’s most famous piano players. Now that you know some piano trivia, share your new knowledge with your friends and musical colleagues.

We’ve learned a lot about the world’s most famous piano players. They have all achieved amazing things and continue to inspire people around the globe with their music. It is truly awe-inspiring to think about what these individuals have accomplished in their lifetimes. 

As we come to a close, let’s remember that these artists are not only talented but also dedicated students of the craft. They continue learning and growing as musicians so they can share their gifts with the world. What will you do today to become a better musician?

If you want to dive deeper into the music of these maestros, find a piano teacher near you and tell them what you’d like to learn. Who knows, your own wacky facts may end up on this list one day!

Did we miss fun facts about your favorite piano players? Tell us in the comments!

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Suzy S.