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A concert pianist is a featured soloist, that performs and records classical piano music either alone, with an orchestra, or in a chamber ensemble. Conductors often request particular pianists that they feel best suit the programs they have chosen.
It takes more than talent, tutoring, constant practice, and dedication to become a concert pianist. They are often prodigies who start playing at very young ages, sometimes as early as two years old.
Every year thousands of capable pianists graduate from top music conservatories and universities, each able to play the requisite repertoire. Yet only one in thousands of these graduates will succeed in a career as a concert pianist.
A fact of life for aspiring concert pianists is the piano competition. Many prestigious piano competitions take place annually and are often judged by a jury of their peers. Winning one of these competitions almost always serves as a springboard for launching a career. Most of the pianists on this list have won several piano competitions.
Born in Beijing China in 1987, Yuja Wang studied in Beijing, Calgary and, The Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, before settling in NYC where she currently resides. She is a flamboyant and visceral performer. There seems to be absolutely no limit to what she can play.
To say she is a virtuoso is an understatement. She is without a doubt one of the finest pianists alive today.
This version of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight Of The Bumblebee shows her technical mastery.
Born in Shenyang, Liaoning, China in 1982, Lang Lang was the first Chinese pianist to be hired by the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics and is recognized as an international music superstar.
He states that hearing a Tom and Jerry episode featuring Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody no 2 was all it took for him to want to learn to play piano and he made his first public appearance at the age of five.
Born in Montreal Qc, Canada, Louis Lortie has performed in the world’s most prestigious concert halls including NYC’s Carnegie Hall and Londons’ Wigmore Hall. He has made more than forty-five albums for Chandos Records including Liszt’s Anees de Pelerinage which was named a top ten recording by the New Yorker magazine in 2012. He is currently Master in Residence at The Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel of Brussels.
Born in Aix-En-Provence in 1969, Helene Grimaud studied at the famed Conservatoire de Musique a Paris before going on to international concert hall tours. A Deutsche Grammophon recording artist since 2002, she has recorded Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Bartok, Mozart, Berg, and Liszt.
She’s written three books and established a Wolf Nature Conservation center in upstate New York.
The New Yorker magazine said this about her piano playing; “Grimaud doesn’t sound like most pianists: she is a rubato artist, a reinventor of phrasings, a taker of chances”. High praise indeed.
Martha Agerich was born in Buenos Aires in 1941. She began her piano studies at the age of three and at five years old was already working on the importance of lyricism and “feeling” in her music. She has won every prestigious piano competition and award on the planet.
She has an aversion to press and publicity which keeps her out of the public’s eye but is nonetheless considered to be one of the greatest pianists to ever live.
Born in 1992 in Nizhny Novgorod, Soviet Union, Mr. Trifanov has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, and, DUX records. His playing has been called, “freakishly brilliant” and ” a heady mix of super-virtuoso and the ability to generate the utmost tenderness”.
He has won numerous awards and his 2018 recording of Liszt’s Transcendante won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo.
Born in Seoul, South Korea in 1994, Seong-Jin Cho rose to international fame as the first South Korean to win the International Chopin Piano Competition( XVII) in 2015.
His playing has taken him to concert halls in Berlin, Paris, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Warsaw, Tel Aviv, and, New York City’s Carnegie Hall. He is also a Deutsche Grammophon recording artist
The NY Times once called pianist Vikingur Olafsson the “Icelandic Glenn Gould”
Mr Olafsson released three albums on his own record label Dirrindi before signing an exclusive contract in 2016 with Deutsche Grammophon.
He champions Icelandic composers having premiered six original piano concertos written for him. An interesting side note, he has synesthesia, a condition that allows him to see colors associated with different key signatures, B major, purple, A Major, yellow, and F minor, blue.
Born in Westcliff-on-the-sea, Essex, UK in 1992, Benjamin Grosvenor began studying piano with his mother at the age of five.
Known for his lyricism and technical ability he is an in-demand international performer having already played with the London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and, the Philadelphia Orchestra among others.
Born in Moscow in 1971, Evgeny Kissin began to play the piano at age two. By the age of six, he was enrolled in a school for gifted children. At the age of twelve, he recorded the Chopin Piano Concertos 1 & 2 with the Moscow State Philharmonic.
He has performed and recorded with every major symphony orchestra and has won countless piano competitions, awards, and accolades.
Joshua Lebofsky is a musician, writer, composer and observer of popular and not so popular music.
He’s played cello, saxophones, piano and keyboards, and toured internationally . His World Music CD Play A little Prayer garnered international attention. He’s busy with several new music productions slated for release in 2022.