fbpx
Home » Piano

21 Best Modern Pianists You Should Know

Last Updated On:

Are you a fan of classical music? Do you enjoy listening to the piano? If so, then you’ll love this list of the best modern pianists.

From Lang Lang to Yuja Wang, there are so many talented musicians out there making beautiful music on the piano. They are taking the classical genre in new and exciting directions, and their work is worth checking out. So if you’re looking for some new names to add to your playlist, check out the 21 best modern pianists. You’re sure to find some new favorites!

1. Lang Lang

Lang Lang is a Chinese pianist who is considered by many in the music industry as one of the most accomplished pianists of modern times. He is also one of the most famous classical musicians in the world, and his work has been praised by some of the most respected names in the industry. In fact, pianist Earl Wild referred to him as the J. Lo of the piano.

He started learning how to play the piano when he was three years old with  Zhu Ya-Fen. When he stormed the classical music industry in 1999, most people thought he was a child prodigy. But his success wasn’t just because of his immense talent—it was also because of his technical ability on the piano.

He later studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and then at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He has won numerous awards and accolades, including the Gilmore Artist Award and the Avery Fisher Prize, and earned a Grammy Award nomination. In 2010, he was named a UNESCO Artist for Peace.

Next: Greatest pianists in the history of music (our picks)

2.  Yundi Li

Yundi Li is a Chinese classical pianist who was born in 1978. He started playing the piano at age six and won first prize at the International Franz Liszt Piano Competition in 1999 when he was only 21. He was the first Chinese pianist to win this prestigious competition.

Li recorded Chopin’s complete works for piano and released them on CD. He has also recorded albums of Bach’s music. He has a large international following, and his concerts are always well-attended. He has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Berlin Philharmonic.

Next: The best and most iconic piano songs & pieces of all time

3. Tigran Hamasyan

Tigran Hamasyan is an Armenian-American jazz pianist. He was born in 1989 in Yerevan, Armenia, and he began playing piano at the age of four. When he was eleven, he moved to Los Angeles with his family. He attended the Dick Grove School of Music, where he studied under jazz pianist Armen Donelian. He has released six albums, and his most recent album, “An Ancient Observer,” was nominated for a Grammy Award.

In addition to his solo work, Hamasyan has also collaborated with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Chick Corea. He currently resides in New York City.

Next: Easiest piano songs for beginners to learn and master

4. Jean-Yves Thibaudet

Jean-Yves Thibaudet is a French pianist born in 1961. He began playing piano at the age of five and made his concert debut at eleven. He studied at the Paris Conservatory, and later, with Maria Curcio, one of the last students of Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Thibaudet won the Edison Prize, the Choc du Monde de la Musique, the Diapason d’Or, the Deutschen Schallplattenpreis, two Echo awards, and a Gramophone Award. He has also been nominated for two Grammy Awards for his recordings of the music of Maurice Ravel.

He has recorded over fifty albums, and his discography includes works by Debussy, Liszt, Saint-Saëns, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, and John Adams. He is currently an artist-in-residence at the Colburn School in Los Angeles.

Next: Best piano bar songs playlist

5. Jacob Collier 

A YouTube and Instagram sensation, Jacob Collier is a one-man band who plays and records his own music. His innovative approach to music has made him a favorite among modern pianists, and he continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible with the instrument.

Collier began posting videos of himself playing piano, singing, and beatboxing when he was a teenager. His unique style and outgoing personality quickly gained a following, and he soon began to tour the world.

He has won multiple Grammy Awards, and his most recent album, “Djesse Vol. III,” placed #17 on the Billboard 200 chart. He was endorsed by the legendary Quincy Jones, and he has since gone on to perform with some of the biggest names in music.

6. Cory Henry 

Cory Henry is a world-renowned pianist and keyboardist who has performed with some of the biggest names in music. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he began playing the piano at the age of two and went on to study at Juilliard School. After graduation, he toured with various artists, including Lionel Richie, India Arie, and Aretha Franklin. He has also released several solo albums and is a member of the band Snarky Puppy. In addition to his work as a musician, Cory is also an ordained minister and a dedicated family man. He currently resides in Texas with his wife and three children.

7.  Diana Krall

Diana Krall is a world-renowned jazz pianist and singer. She is one of the most popular and acclaimed jazz musicians of our time. Born in 1964 in Canada, she began playing piano at the age of four and soon developed a passion for jazz. She studied at the Berklee College of Music before embarking on a successful career as a performer and recording artist.

She has released 16 albums, won five Grammy Awards, and sold more than 15 million records worldwide. Her unique style combines elements of swing, bossa nova, and traditional jazz, resulting in a sound that is both sophisticated and highly accessible.

Next: Greatest jazz musicians and artists of all time

8. Jon Batiste 

Jon Batiste is a New Orleans native and a multi-instrumentalist who is most known for his work on the piano. He began playing music at a young age, and by the time he was 12, he was already touring with various jazz bands. After graduating from the prestigious Juilliard School, he moved to New York City, where he quickly made a name for himself in the jazz scene.

Over the past few years, Batiste has released several solo albums and collaborated with several high-profile artists, including Wynton Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. His unique blend of jazz, pop, and R&B has made him one of the most sought-after pianists of his generation.

9. Hiromi Uehara

Hiromi Uehara is a Japanese pianist who has been making waves in the jazz world for her innovative and energetic playing style. She is also a skilled composer and arranger and has released several solo albums that have received critical acclaim.

She began playing piano at the age of six, and by the time she was in her teens, she was already performing with some of Japan’s top musicians. She later moved to the United States to study at the Berklee College of Music, where she honed her skills even further.

Since bursting onto the scene, she has been hailed as one of the most exciting and talented young pianists in jazz. She has toured with some of the biggest names in music, including Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke, and her own band, The Trio Project. Hiromi’s music is a blend of jazz, classical, and rock, and she is always looking for new ways to push the boundaries of her art.

10.  Yuja Wang

One of the most prodigious talents of her generation, Chinese-born pianist Yuja Wang has been wowing audiences since she made her international debut in 2007. She’s won awards for both her performances and recordings, including a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (with orchestra) for her 2017 album Fantasia. And she achieved all of this before the age of 30. If you’re looking for a modern-day piano virtuoso, Wang is definitely one to watch.

Next: Basic piano chords for beginners to learn and master

11.  Martha Argerich

Martha Argerich is an Argentinean pianist who has been one of the most celebrated musicians of our time. She has won numerous international competitions, and her recordings have earned her five Grammy Awards. She is known for her passionate and virtuosic playing, as well as her willingness to take risks on stage. She has been a force in the classical music world for over 50 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

Additionally, Argerich is a committed philanthropist and has used her platform to support several charities. In 2016, she was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

12. Hélène Grimaud

Hélène Grimaud is a French-born pianist who has been living in the United States since 1985. She made her debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1989 and has appeared as a soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras. She is also a committed chamber musician, appearing regularly at festivals such as the Salzburg Festival and the Ravinia Festival. She has been a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 1993. 

In 1999, she founded the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York, which is dedicated to educating people about wolf ecology and the importance of preserving habitat for these animals. Grimaud’s playing has been described as “passionate” and “electrifying.” She has recorded several critically acclaimed albums, including her most recent release, Bach: Goldberg Variations.

13.  Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper is a jazz pianist who has been acclaimed for his fresh and innovative approach to the genre. Born in Houston, Texas, he began playing piano at the age of three. He studied at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, where he graduated with a degree in jazz studies.

After graduation, he embarked on a successful career as a sideman and session musician, working with such artists as Mos Def, Maxwell, and Q-Tip. In 2005, he released his debut album, Canvas, which earned critical acclaim for its unique blend of jazz, hip-hop, and R&B. Since then, Glasper has released four more albums, including Black Radio (2012), which won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.

In addition to his work as a solo artist, he is also a member of the Robert Glasper Experiment, a band that explores the intersection of jazz and other genres. With his distinctive sound and forward-thinking approach to music, he is one of the most exciting and innovative jazz pianists working today.

14.  Krystian Zimerman

Krystian Zimerman is a Polish pianist who has been active since the 1960s. He has won numerous awards, including the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (1987) and the Diapason d’Or (1991). He is particularly known for his interpretations of Chopin’s works, and he has recorded all of Chopin’s solo piano pieces. He is also a noted chamber musician and has collaborated with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, and Anne-Sophie Mutter.

15.  Murray Perahia

Murray Perahia is an American-British classical pianist. He has been described as “one of the most admired pianists of our time” by The New York Times. He was born in the Bronx, New York, to a family of Sephardic Jewish descent from Romania and Bulgaria. He graduated from the Juilliard School, where he studied with Mieczysław Munz.

His debut album was released in 1972 to great critical acclaim. He has since recorded over 30 albums, including several Grammy Award-winners. His most recent release is The First Piano Concertos, a two-disc set featuring Perahia’s recordings of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21.

16.  Leif Ove Andsnes

Leif Ove Andsnes is a Norwegian pianist who has been active since the 1980s. He is a two-time Grammy Award winner and has also won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award (2003) and the Diapason d’Or. He has been praised for his “poetic and sensitive” playing. In 2017, he was awarded the Peer Gynt Prize, a Norwegian award for artists who have made an outstanding contribution to Norwegian culture.

17.  Evgeny Kissin

Evgeny Kissin was born in Moscow in 1971 and began playing the piano at age three. He made his public debut at age ten, and by age eleven, he had won first prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition. In 1988, he made his American debut with the New York Philharmonic and has since performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras.

He has made numerous recordings, and in 2006, he was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (with orchestra). In 2002, Kissin became a British citizen, while in 2013, he became an Israeli citizen. Today, he lives in Prague with his wife, Arzumanova.

18. Maurizio Pollini

Born in Milan in 1942, Maurizio Pollini is one of the most celebrated pianists of our time. He made his debut with the La Scala Orchestra at age 18 and has since gone on to perform with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras. He has won numerous awards, including two Grammy Awards and the Japan Record Academy Award. His recordings of Chopin’s works are particularly highly regarded.

19. Igor Levit

Born in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, in 1987, Igor Levit is a classical pianist who has been praised for his mature musicianship and intelligent interpretations of both standard repertoire and contemporary works. He made his concert debut at the age of eleven and has since gone on to perform with some of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra.

He is a committed chamber musician and has collaborated with artists such as violinist Christian Tetzlaff and cellist Steven Isserlis. In 2015, he won the prestigious Gramophone Award for recording Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas.

20. Alfred Brendel

Alfred Brendel was born in 1931 in Austria and started playing piano at the age of six. He made his public debut at the age of sixteen, and soon after, he began to study music seriously. He has been praised for his intelligent and expressive playing and his ability to communicate with audiences.

He has recorded a wide range of repertoire, from Bach to contemporary composers, and is mainly known for his interpretations of Beethoven and Mozart. Brendel has retired from performing but remains active as a writer and teacher.

21. Daniil Trifonov

Daniil Trifonov is a Russian-born pianist and composer who has been hailed as one of the most talented musicians of his generation. He began studying piano at the age of five, and by the time he was eleven, he had won the first prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians.

He has since won several other prestigious competitions, including the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition and the Chopin International Piano Competition. In addition to his solo work, he is a member of the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and the renowned jazz group The Bad Plus.

He has recorded several critically acclaimed albums, and his live performances have been praised for their technique, passion, and emotion. Trifonov is one of the most gifted musicians of our time, and his career is sure to be a continuing success.