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?
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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10 Wacky 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.
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. 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!