A pianist (// PEE-ə-nist) is a person who plays the piano. Most forms of Western music can make use of the piano. Consequently, pianists have a wide variety of repertoire and styles to choose from, including traditionally classical music, jazz, blues and all sorts of popular music, including rock music. Most pianists also can, to a certain extent play other keyboard-related instruments such as the synthesizer, harpsichord, celesta, the organ, etc.
Modern classical pianists dedicate their careers to performing, recording, teaching, researching as well as learning new works/expanding their repertoire. They generally do not write or transcribe music as pianists did in the 19th century. Some classical pianists might specialize in accompaniment and chamber music while others (relatively few) will perform as full-time piano soloists.
Mozart could be considered the first "concert pianist" as he performed widely on the piano. Beethoven and Clementi from the classical era were also famed for their playing, as were romantic era performers Liszt, Brahms, Chopin, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff however, as we do not have modern audio recordings of many of these pianists, we rely completely on written commentary to give us an account of their technique and style.
Jazz pianists almost always perform with other musicians. Their playing is freer than that of classical pianists and they create an air of spontaneity in their performances. They generally do not write down their compositions; improvisation is a significant part of their work. Well known Jazz pianists include Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson and Herbie Hancock.
Popular pianists might work as live performers (concert, theatre, etc.), session musicians, arrangers most likely feel at home with synthesizers and other electornic keyboard instruments. Notable popular pianists include Victor Borge who performed as a comedian; Richard Clayderman, who is known for his covers of popular tunes; and singer and entertainer Liberace, who at the height of his fame, was one of the highest paid entertainers in the world.
A single listing of pianists in all genres would be impractical, given the multitude of musicians noted for their performances on the instrument. Below are links to lists of well-known or influential pianists divided by genres:
- List of classical pianists (recorded)
- List of classical pianists
- List of classical piano duos (performers)
Many important composers were also virtuoso pianists. The following is an incomplete list of such musicians.
- Ludwig van Beethoven
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Johann Nepomuk Hummel
- Muzio Clementi
- Carl Maria von Weber
- Franz Liszt
- Frédéric Chopin
- Felix Mendelssohn
- Johannes Brahms
- Sergei Rachmaninoff
- Anton Rubinstein
- Camille Saint-Saëns
- Isaac Albéniz
- Nikolai Medtner
- Charles-Valentin Alkan
- Anton Arensky