A pianist (/ˈpiːənᵻst/ PEE-ə-nist, /ˈpjænᵻst/ PYAN-ist) is an individual musician 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 can, to a certain extent, play other keyboard-related instruments such as the synthesizer, harpsichord, celesta and the organ and keyboard. Perhaps the greatest pianist of all time was Franz Liszt, whose piano mastery was described by Anton Rubinstein: "In comparison with Liszt, all other pianists are children".
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. Composers Beethoven and Clementi from the classical era were also famed for their playing, as were, from the romantic era, Liszt, Brahms, Chopin, Mendelssohn and Rachmaninoff. From that era, leading performers less known as composers were Clara Schumann and Hans von Bülow. However, as we do not have modern audio recordings of most of these pianists, we rely mainly 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 Bud Powell.
Popular pianists might work as live performers (concert, theatre, etc.), session musicians, arrangers most likely feel at home with synthesizers and other electronic 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)
List of jazz pianists
List of pop and rock pianists
List of blues musicians
List of boogie woogie musicians
List of gospel musicians
List of new-age music artists
Many important composers were also virtuoso pianists. The following is an incomplete list of such musicians.Franz Schubert
Ludwig van Beethoven
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Johann Nepomuk Hummel
Carl Maria von Weber
Some people, having received a solid piano training in their youth, decide not to continue their musical careers but choose nonmusical ones. As a result, there are prominent communities of amateur pianists all over the world that play at quite a high level and give concerts just because of their love to music, but not to earn money. The International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, held annually in Paris, attracts about one thousand listeners each year and is broadcast on French radio. It is also a notable fact that Jon Nakamatsu, the Gold Medal winner of the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for professional pianists in Fort Worth, Texas (1997) was at the moment of his victory technically an amateur: he never attended a music conservatory or major in music, and worked as a high school German teacher then. It was only after the competition that he started pursuing a career as a classical pianist.
The German pianist Davide Martello is known for traveling around conflict zones to play his moving piano. Martello has previously been recognised by the European parliament for his “outstanding contribution to European cooperation and the promotion of common values”.