Music is a universal language that unites people from different parts of the world and from different cultures. Characterized by very different genres, the music also belongs to the instrument with which it is performed, be it an electric guitar or violin. Through this guide we want, in fact, to tell you about the most famous and influential pianists, whether they are jazz musicians or classics, rockers or composers of soundtracks. Enjoy reading!
Hans Zimmer is probably the best known pianist of our time. He started his career as an electronic music composer and has a significant breakthrough when discovered by a Hollywood producer. He founded the Media Ventures studio and composed his first soundtrack in 1982 for Moonlighting, a TV series. He then continued to work on several projects until 1994, the year of his consecration with an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Grammy Award for the Lion King’s soundtrack. Other notable compositions are Rain Man, A spasso con Daisy, Thelma & Louise, About Henry, The Gladiator, The Last Samurai, Sherlock Holmes and Inception. His success has made him one of the most prolific pianists and composers in history.
Oscar Peterson, who died in 2007 at the age of 82, is a jazz piano legend. His journey begins in the black districts of Montreal where, at the age of 5, Peterson immersed himself in music and approached the trumpet. Very quickly, however, he realized that his heart was beating for the piano. His virtuosity is total, since he became a professional musician at the age of 14. A genius he will keep for the rest of his life, cultivating his musicality, his inventiveness and his sense of melody, through his hard work. In 2015, pianists from all over the world commemorated the 90th anniversary of his birth and, on this occasion, an album of unpublished jazz compositions (?Oscar, with love?) was released as a last gift for his fans.
Among the Italians of classical piano, we can not fail to mention Maurizio Pollini. In 1960, at the age of 18, he won the Chopin Competition in Warsaw where Arthur Rubinstein, another great pianist, after listening, said: “Does this young man sound better than all of us? He has performed with the major European, American and Asian orchestras, and is particularly famous for his performances of Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schoenberg and Webern. He has often played composers such as Mozart, Schumann, Liszt and Brahms, but also modern composers such as Boulez, Nono and Stockhausen. Pollini is famous for his excellent technique, his total mastery of the instrument and for having concentrated on the clarity and perfection of the sound quality, carrying out a deep research on the interpretative details of the composers he faced.
Glenn Gould was a Canadian pianist, composer, harpsichordist and organist who died in 1982 at the age of 50. He is remembered for his performances of Bach but also of Beethoven, Mozart, Sibelius, Strauss, Hindemith ‘and Schoenberg. His exceptional technique, his sensitivity, his absolute modernity in the reinterpretation and interpretation of the classics make him one of the greatest pianists of all time. His first concert was in 1947, the first radio broadcast for CBC in 1950, but he stopped performing in 1964, dedicating himself to studio recordings for the rest of his career. Gould is known for his vivid imagination and his audience has always considered his performances as incredible. His interpretative style was decidedly clear and crystalline, with a maniacal cleanliness of notes, particularly in the passages of counterpoint, qualities that allowed him to choose fast times.
Martha Argerich is an Argentinean pianist. He began his studies with his mother, a piano teacher, debuting in concert at the age of eight. She moved to Europe and perfected her studies with Arturo Benedetti Michelangelo. At just 16 she won the Ferruccio Busoni Competition in Bolzano and Geneva Piano Competition, while at 22 she won the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. His first recordings of Prokofiev’s Toccata op. 11 and Liszt’s Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody remain unbeatable. Possessing an impeccable technique and a move in comparison with Horowitz, he stands out above all in the execution of the octave, in the control of the dynamics, in the fluidity of the articulation and in the replayed notes. An excellent accompanist, she is also famous for the recordings of some works by Rachmaninov, Messiaen, Prokofiev and Ravel.
Among the most influential rock pianists is Keith Emerson, who died in 2016 at the age of 71. Of English origin, Emerson began studying piano, both classical and jazz, as a child and is considered one of the best rock pianists in the history of music. He deserves the credit for having innovated the Hammond organ, especially the Moog synthesizer, of which he was a true master. Founder of the famous Emerson trio, Lake & Palmer, he had also walked the stage of Ariston where, in 2015, he gave an extraordinary performance playing Honky Tonk Train Blues by Meade Lux Lewis. Emerson was a virtuoso and had shown this since his first album, in 1970, where the direction is clear with a rock that seeks classical music through quotations, instrumental songs and lasted well over 3 minutes of canonical pop songs, and Lucky Man, ballad with one of the most famous solos of Moog in the history of rock.