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In the past the majority of the great composers of piano music were also great pianists, some among the greatest of their time. The ones who I know were great pianists or keyboard players were Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Alkan, Brahms, Debussy, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Medtner, Scriabin, Bartok, Granados, and Shostakovich. My guess is that Scarlatti was also a terrific keyboardist. Some of the great composers of piano music who were not great pianists include Haydn, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, and possibly Grieg.

I don't follow contemporary piano music much and the only composers who I know who were/are great pianists are Rzewski, Kapustin, and possibly Messiaen(I know he was a terrific organist). Which other great contemporary composers were/are great pianists? Let's call a composer contemporary if they were born around 1925 or later or composing after around 1950.

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Bernstein was an excellent pianist. Whether you want to include him in that bucket is another question.

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Thomas Adès is one of today's greatest composers and he's also a great pianist, who frequently performs as a pianist, not just in his own very complicated music (his Three Mazurkas was one of the compulsory contemporary works in the 2021 Leeds Piano Competition which finished yesterday, and second in popularity among the contestants only to Ligeti's Etudes) but also in Schubert, Grieg, Janáček, Busoni, Stravinsky etc. In fact he first became known as pianist, playing one of his own pieces in the BBC Young Musician Competition plus a Bartók concerto in the finals.

Britten was also another composer-pianist, frequently performing duets with Richter as well as partnering his, er, partner Peter Pears in Schubert and Britten, and Rostropovich in Shostakovich etc.



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I don’t agree with the criteria of “contemporary,” since Bernstein died over 30 years ago, and Britten 45 (just one year after Shostakovich)… that’s contemporary? I feel like contemporary should mean currently active, or maybe only very recently died (within the past few years).

I suppose Marc-André Hamelin, Stephen Hough, and Conrad Tao don’t fit your criteria, since they are more known/prolific as performers than composers? (although their compositions are fantastic!)

Amy Williams is a renowned composer who is also a great pianist.

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Jason Robert Brown.

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Originally Posted by fatar760
Jason Robert Brown.
This thread is (obviously) about classical composers and classical pianists.

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Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
I don’t agree with the criteria of “contemporary,” since Bernstein died over 30 years ago, and Britten 45 (just one year after Shostakovich)… that’s contemporary? I feel like contemporary should mean currently active, or maybe only very recently died (within the past few years).

I suppose Marc-André Hamelin, Stephen Hough, and Conrad Tao don’t fit your criteria, since they are more known/prolific as performers than composers? (although their compositions are fantastic!)
Probably the most straightforward definition one could use is "great living composer-pianists", in which case there are very few.

If one talks about great living pianists who also compose (i.e. their music must be original and have been performed publicly and/or recorded commercially, not just composed and put into a drawer for posterity), you have quite a few big name pianists as well as Hough and Hamelin, e.g. Pletnev, Kissin (yes), Trifonov, Montero.


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I do not think that there are any great contemporary classical composers, even ignoring the oxymoron.

Probably the greatest pianist who composes classical style pieces is Gonzalo Rubalcaba.


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Tigran Hamasyan, Aaron Parks, Stefano Bollani, Bobo Stenson, Django Bates, John Taylor, Bill Carrothers, Uri Caine, Marc Copland, Kevin Hays, Fred Hersch, Nitai Hershkovits, Florian Weber, Helge Lien, Shai Maestro, Brad Mehldau, Jason Moran, Ivo Neame, Benoit Delbecq, Aruan Ortiz, Danilo Perez, Jean-Michel Pilc, Gwilym Simcock, Craig Taborn, Dan Tepfer, David Virelles, Dominik Wania, Kenny Werner, Michael Wollny, Keith Jarrett ….
just to name a few

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Originally Posted by beeboss
Tigran Hamasyan, Aaron Parks, Stefano Bollani, Bobo Stenson, Django Bates, John Taylor, Bill Carrothers, Uri Caine, Marc Copland, Kevin Hays, Fred Hersch, Nitai Hershkovits, Florian Weber, Helge Lien, Shai Maestro, Brad Mehldau, Jason Moran, Ivo Neame, Benoit Delbecq, Aruan Ortiz, Danilo Perez, Jean-Michel Pilc, Gwilym Simcock, Craig Taborn, Dan Tepfer, David Virelles, Dominik Wania, Kenny Werner, Michael Wollny, Keith Jarrett ….just to name a few
As much as I like Jarrett and Hersch, this thread is (obviously) about classical composers and classical pianists.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by fatar760
Jason Robert Brown.
This thread is (obviously) about classical composers and classical pianists.

You're aware Bernstein wrote musical theatre shows, like JRB.

Maybe it wasn't that obvious that you meant 'contemporary classical' to some of us, and should have been stipulated in the heading.

We should probably be aware of the amount of work that crosses over into other idioms these days.

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Originally Posted by fatar760
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by fatar760
Jason Robert Brown.
This thread is (obviously) about classical composers and classical pianists.

You're aware Bernstein wrote musical theatre shows, like JRB.

Maybe it wasn't that obvious that you meant 'contemporary classical' to some of us, and should have been stipulated in the heading.

We should probably be aware of the amount of work that crosses over into other idioms these days.
This sub forum is for classical music, all the examples I gave were of classical composer/pianists, and I had already made a second post to clarify this.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
As much as I like Jarrett and Hersch, this thread is (obviously) about classical composers and classical pianists.

Keith Jarrett is a classical pianist. He has dozens of classical discs out there and has written plenty of classical (ie non-improvised) music as well, more than most of the classical players listed here.
I don’t understand this narrow minded approach of putting music in stylistic boxes. Why would you want to exclude one of the greatest musicians of the last 50 years just because he also plays other styles of music. I find it weird.

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Originally Posted by beeboss
Why would you want to exclude one of the greatest musicians of the last 50 years just because he also plays other styles of music. I find it weird.
Methinks the gentleman doth protest (and exaggerate) far too much.

Even my jazzer friend (who only plays by ear and has participated in jazz combos with some of his jazz idols) doesn't know who Jarrett is.


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Jarrett's awards over the last few decades put him in exceptional company. His Shostakovich P&F recordings are frequently compared to those of Nikolayeva

Following from
https://www.laphil.com/musicdb/artists/2619/keith-jarrett


Classical music releases by Keith Jarrett on ECM include works by Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Shostakovich. In 2013, ECM released a recording of the Bach Sonatas for Violin and Piano with violinist Michelle Makarski, which was Keith Jarrett’s first recording of classical repertoire in 17 years.

Keith Jarrett’s many honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, both Prix du President de la Republique and Grand Prix du Disque awards from the Academie Charles Cros (France), seven Deutscher Schallplattenpries (Germany), and eight Grammy (United States) nominations in both jazz and classical categories. He has received dozens of “Artist” or “Album of the Year” awards and dozens of “Critics” and “Best of the Year” awards from the international music press.

In 1989 Keith Jarrett was named Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and then in 2007 Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, two of the highest honors the French Ministry of Culture can bestow on an artist. In 1996 he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, joining Duke Ellington as the only foreign jazz artists to ever be so honored. In 2002 he was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2003 he was awarded the Polar Music Prize, presented by the King of Sweden in a special televised ceremony in Stockholm. In July 2004, he was presented the Leonie Sonning Prize in Copenhagen, another of the world’s major music awards.

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Originally Posted by spk
Keith Jarrett’s many honors.....
Lots of pop stars have won far more awards, including Grammys, knighthoods, etc, etc, etc.

Most of the reviews I've read of Jarrett's classical recordings in serious classical journals have been lukewarm at best. One castigated his Mozart concertos as staid, over-serious, lacking in rhythmic vitality and colorless, which the reviewer found quite inexplicable from a jazz pianist. (Gulda's Mozart recordings are anything but......but then, he was a real classical pianist.)


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Originally Posted by beeboss
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
As much as I like Jarrett and Hersch, this thread is (obviously) about classical composers and classical pianists.

I don’t understand this narrow minded approach of putting music in stylistic boxes. Why would you want to exclude one of the greatest musicians of the last 50 years just because he also plays other styles of music. I find it weird.

Because, sometimes on this forum, people are narrow-minded and only want to hear the answers in the realm of which they are expecting, even when it's not as clear as they think.

Thank goodness music itself is a little more flexible than that.

I note that the Bernstein issue was not addressed.

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Originally Posted by beeboss
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
As much as I like Jarrett and Hersch, this thread is (obviously) about classical composers and classical pianists.

Keith Jarrett is a classical pianist. He has dozens of classical discs out there and has written plenty of classical (ie non-improvised) music as well, more than most of the classical players listed here.
I don’t understand this narrow minded approach of putting music in stylistic boxes. Why would you want to exclude one of the greatest musicians of the last 50 years just because he also plays other styles of music. I find it weird.
Jarrett is primarily a jazz pianist. I think that's undeniable. If he had chosen to play only classical, chances are he would be almost unknown or even unknown. My guess is his jazz recordings and live appearances outnumber his classical recordings and appearances by huge factor.

In addition, I think all/almost all the pianists on your very long list are jazz musicians, no? I have not heard of any of them called classical pianists.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Jarrett is primarily a jazz pianist. I think that's undeniable. If he had chosen to play only classical, chances are he would be almost unknown or even unknown. My guess is his jazz recordings and live appearances outnumber his classical recordings and appearances by huge factor.


Jarrett transcends genres. Yes he a jazz musician, but before that he was a classical musician, also he plays folk music and rock, he plays piano organ harpsichord saxophone, drums, percussion, recorder, flutes, guitar, any number of other weird instruments. Yes his jazz output is much larger but he has maybe 20 classical recordings out, which is quite a lot given that he has done that pretty much in his spare time. I think anyone with 20 classical cd releases as a soloist on a top recording label should count as a classical musician (it seems like that is an important designation for you). I don’t imagine Thomas Ades has 20 cds with him playing the classics and yet you don’t feel the need to try to exclude him from your list because he is mainly a composer. I expect his conducting performances outnumber his piano performances by a large margin, no?

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
In addition, I think all/almost all the pianists on your very long list are jazz musicians, no? I have not heard of any of them called classical pianists

I am not interested in genre. They are all world class players and composers as well. That they (mostly) choose not to record Mozart is irrelevant to me. If you are interested in creative new music played by great players these are some of the people you should be checking out, among about a hundred more.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
Even my jazzer friend (who only plays by ear and has participated in jazz combos with some of his jazz idols) doesn't know who Jarrett is.

Seriously?
Jarrett is one of the most famous piano players in the world. There is surely no educated musician on the planet who does not know who Jarrett is.

Originally Posted by bennevis
Most of the reviews I've read of Jarrett's classical recordings in serious classical journals have been lukewarm at best.

This is hardly relevant to whether Jarrett is a classical musician or a ‘great pianist’. Leaving aside the hundreds of rave reviews (and some not so good ones) I will just point you too a article written by Steven Osborn (I am guessing you know who he is) about Jarrett and improvising.

In it he says … “For me, Jarrett is simply one of the greatest pianists there has ever been.”

“ There are classical musicians with Jarrett’s control but without his boundless spontaneity. I think it may be that mix of spontaneity and control which makes the best of Jarrett’s playing so profoundly communicative, and his ability to create meaning out of the tiniest inflections of phrasing or voicing, astonishes me. “

https://www.stevenosborne.com/thoughts/on-keith-jarrett-and-improvising

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