I was listening to an instrumental “study” station on 8tracks while programming, and the 3rd movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata came on which blew my mind. I don’t listen to classical music much these days, but I think of it as like hiking the Appalachian: if you have the patience, you will discover something beautiful. So, in the spirit of top 5 lists, here are my favorite classical piano composers.
5. Rachmaninoff: My favorite Russian composer (I never really got Tchaikovsky). He is big on full distinct textures, staccato, and rhythmic style. I wish he stuck around on the keys a little longer as a pianist, but he isn’t on the list for that.
4. Franz Liszt: As a piano player myself, I appreciate the sheer difficulty of many of his pieces. Still, the on I heard first, and was always fascinated by has been Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. It’s been used in a million cartoons, which I think ruins it in the minds of many people, but I still think it’s absolutely brilliant (especially the second part).
3. Johannas Brahms: This guy does not mess around. Everything is either building to an emotional roller coaster or is riding it. His 2nd piano concerto is brilliant, and is the reason he is on this list, but I first heard of him because of Hungarian Dance No. 5, and while it’s probably not taken too seriously, it is one of the most powerful three minutes of classical music I can imagine.
2. Beethoven: I still know how to play parts of the Moonlight Sonata by heart after not having practiced it for many years. Really, I would put Beethoven at #1, but it’d be like voting for a family member. I’m too close with the guy, so I feel like I’m heavily biased.
1. Chopin: Sometimes I feel like Chopin is the Dali of the classical music world in that his work is too popular and simple. Nothing so melodic can be brilliant right? Whatever, I judge all things by how much I enjoy them. And no classical piano pieces I enjoy more than those of Chopin.