Famous 19th Century Pianists

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Pianists, including Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt, Duke Ellington, Camille Saint-Saëns and Sergei Prokofiev.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 30, 1770
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bonn, Germany
Died: March 26, 1827

German composer and pianist, Ludwig van Beethoven, remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music even two centuries after his death. Born into a musical family, he was initially tutored by his father. He found success early as a pianist and went on to become an admired composer despite suffering from hearing-impairment.

 2 Frédéric Chopin

Frédéric Chopin
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: March 1, 1810
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Żelazowa Wola, Poland
Died: October 17, 1849

Romantic Era virtuoso pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin, nicknamed The Poet of the Piano, is remembered as the inventor of the instrumental ballade. The legendary composer mostly created solo piano masterpieces but also experimented with piano concertos and chamber pieces. He was influenced by Bach, Mozart, and Polish folk music.

 3 Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist and Teacher of the Romantic Era
Birthdate: October 22, 1811
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Raiding, Austria
Died: July 31, 1886

Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer, conductor, arranger, music teacher, and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era. Considered one of the greatest pianists ever, Liszt's works influenced his contemporaries and successors alike. Perhaps his greatest legacy is his work as a teacher, although his rich body of work might suggest otherwise; he taught people like Karl Klindworth among other pianists.

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 4 Franz Peter Schubert

Franz Peter Schubert
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: January 31, 1797
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Himmelpfortgrund, Vienna, Austria
Died: November 19, 1828

Austrian composer Franz Peter Schubert was one of the most prominent figures of the Viennese Classical and Romantic periods. He initially performed at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. His compositions include over 600 vocal works and several symphonies, operas, and piano sonatas. One of his most-talked-about works is the Unfinished Symphony.

 5 Joseph Haydn

Joseph Haydn
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: March 31, 1732
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rohrau, Austria
Died: May 31, 1809

Joseph Haydn was an Austrian composer who played a key role in the progression of chamber music during the Classical period. He is often referred to as the Father of the String Quartet and Father of the Symphony for his contributions to musical form. Joseph Haydn is also credited with mentoring and tutoring Mozart and Beethoven, respectively.

 6 Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: April 1, 1873
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Oneg, Russia
Died: March 28, 1943

Sergei Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, conductor, and virtuoso pianist of the late Romantic period. Credited with exploring the expressive possibilities of the piano, Rachmaninoff's music continues to be featured in films. His four-year struggle with depression, which was followed by the critical failure of his Symphony No. 1, was depicted in the 2015 musical Preludes.

 7 Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms
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Famous As: Composer, Conductor, Pianist
Birthdate: May 7, 1834
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: April 3, 1897
German composer, conductor, and pianist Johannes Brahms is considered as one of the "Three Bs" of music, the other two being Bach and Beethoven. He was known for his perfectionism. Some of his best-known works are Saint Anthony Variations and A German Requiem. His work mingled traditional and modern elements.
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 8 Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann
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Famous As: One of the Greatest Composer of the Romantic Era which include 'Carnaval, Symphonic Studies and Kinderszenen'
Birthdate: June 8, 1810
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Zwickau, Germany
Died: July 29, 1856
Robert Schumann was a German pianist, music critic, and composer. An influential musician of the Romantic era, Schumann is considered one of the greatest composers of the era. Schumann was initially focused on becoming the finest pianist in Europe. However, a hand injury brought an end to his dream, forcing him to focus on composing.

 9 Felix Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 3, 1809
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: November 4, 1847

Felix Mendelssohn was a German composer of the early Romantic period. He was also a skilled organist, pianist, and conductor. He composed symphonies, concertos, chamber music, and organ music. His collection of lyrical piano songs Songs Without Words is among his best-known works. He was the founder of the public university The Leipzig Conservatory. He died aged just 38. 

 10 Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist
Birthdate: March 7, 1875
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ciboure, France
Died: December 28, 1937
French impressionist composer Maurice Ravel is best known for his orchestral composition Boléro. He rejected the Legion d'honneur and all French awards. He was one the first composers to realize the importance of recording music to gain a wider reach. Most of his music consisted of piano and orchestration.

 11 Sergei Prokofiev

Sergei Prokofiev
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Famous As: Composer and pianist
Birthdate: April 23, 1891
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Krasne, Ukraine
Died: March 5, 1953

Sergei Prokofiev was a Russian Soviet pianist, composer, and conductor. Renowned for creating masterpieces across various genres, Prokofiev is widely considered one of the 20th century's major composers. Many other composers like Arthur Honegger have called Prokofiev the greatest contemporary musician of all time. An open pianists' competition, which is held every year in Ukraine, is named after Sergei Prokofiev.

 12 Edvard Grieg

Edvard Grieg
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist
Birthdate: June 15, 1843
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bergen, Norway
Died: September 4, 1907
Regarded as Norway’s Shakespeare, musical legend Edvard Grieg learned the piano from his mother. The Scottish claim he was their own, as Grieg’s Scottish grandfather had migrated to Norway. Grieg was known for his compositions such as the Piano Concerto and for infusing Norwegian folk elements into his music.

 13 Aleksandr Scriabin

Aleksandr Scriabin
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist
Birthdate: December 25, 1871
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: April 14, 1915

Russian composer and pianist Aleksandr Scriabin is considered one of the most innovative and controversial of early modern composers. Interested in music from an early age, he built pianos as a young man and didn’t take long to establish himself as a brilliant composer. Unfortunately, he died at the height of his career, at the age of just 43. 

 14 Erik Satie

Erik Satie
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: May 17, 1866
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Honfleur, France
Died: July 1, 1925

Erik Satie was a French pianist and composer. An influential artist during his time, Satie's works served as a predecessor to later artistic movements like repetitive music, minimalism, and the Theatre of the Absurd. Apart from being a musician, Erik Satie was also a prolific writer, who contributed to publications, such as Vanity Fair and 391.

 15 Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin
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Famous As: Street artist, Composer, Pianist, Songwriter, Screenwriter, Film score composer
Birthdate: May 11, 1888
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tyumen
Died: September 22, 1989

Irving Berlin was a composer and lyricist. He made tremendous contributions to the Great American Songbook and is widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history. He had an extensive career spanning six decades, during which he composed an estimated 1,500 songs. He received the Lawrence Langner Tony Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. 

 16 Arthur Rubinstein

Arthur Rubinstein
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: January 28, 1887
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Łódź, Poland
Died: December 20, 1982

Arthur Rubinstein was a Polish-American pianist counted amongst the greatest pianists of all time. He had an extensive career spanning eight decades, during which he earned much international acclaim. He played music performed by several illustrious composers and is especially remembered for his interpretation of Chopin’s music. Renowned pianists François-René Duchâble and Avi Schönfeld were his students. 

 17 Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns
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Famous As: Composer, Organist, Pianist
Birthdate: October 9, 1835
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 16, 1921
French composer and multi-instrumentalist Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was an icon of the Romantic era, known for masterpieces such as the First Cello Concerto and the opera Samson and Delilah. He was initially a church organist and then became a freelance composer and pianist. He also taught music in Paris.

 18 Modest Mussorgsky

Modest Mussorgsky
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: March 21, 1839
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Karevo, Russia
Died: March 28, 1881

Modest Mussorgsky was a Russian composer best remembered for being part of a renowned 19th-century Russian composers group known as The Five. An innovator of Russian music, Mussorgsky worked towards achieving a Russian musical identity that challenged the already established Western music, which was generally considered conventional at that time.

 19 Gabriel Fauré

Gabriel Fauré
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Famous As: Composer, Organist
Birthdate: October 22, 1845
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pamiers, France
Died: June 4, 1924

One of the greatest composers of all time, French pianist and organist Gabriel Fauré is best remembered for his masterpieces such as Requiem. His music career began at 9, when he was sent to Paris to become a choirmaster. At 75, he was awarded the Grand-Croix of the Légion d'honneur.

 20 Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton
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Famous As: Pianist, Bandleader, Composer, Conductor, Jazz musician
Birthdate: October 20, 1890
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gulfport
Died: July 10, 1941

 21 Alfred Cortot

Alfred Cortot
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: September 26, 1877
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Nyon, Switzerland
Died: June 15, 1962

French pianist Alfred Cortot is remembered for his renditions of popular Romantic composers, such as Chopin and Schumann. The Paris Conservatory alumnus later established the Paris Orchestre Philharmonique and the École Normale de Musique. He also formed a trio with cellist Pablo Casals and violinist Jacques Thibaud.

 22 Wilhelm Kempff

Wilhelm Kempff
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: November 25, 1895
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Jüterbog, Germany
Died: May 23, 1991

One of the greatest German composers of the 20th century, Wilhelm Kempff specialized in interpretations of legends such as Beethoven and Chopin. Born into a family of church musicians, he began learning the piano at age 9. He had also played for the Nazi officers, once a short distance away from Auschwitz.

 23 Maria Anna Mozart

Maria Anna Mozart
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 30, 1751
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Salzburg, Austria
Died: October 29, 1829

 24 Josef Hofmann

Josef Hofmann
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: January 20, 1876
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kraków, Poland
Died: February 16, 1957

Josef Hofmann was a Polish-American composer, pianist, inventor, and music teacher. From 1927 to 1938, he served as the director of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, USA. As the director of the institute, Hofmann was instrumental in recruiting musicians like Efrem Zimbalist, Marcella Sembrich, Fritz Reiner, and Isabella Vengerova. Among his pupils were Abbey Simon and Shura Cherkassky.

 25 W. C. Handy

W. C. Handy
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 16, 1873
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Florence, Alabama, United States
Died: March 28, 1958

 26 Myra Hess

Myra Hess
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: February 25, 1890
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England
Died: November 25, 1965

 27 Ignacy Jan Paderewski

Ignacy Jan Paderewski
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Famous As: Former Prime Minister of Poland, Pianist
Birthdate: November 6, 1860
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kurylivka, Ukraine
Died: June 29, 1941

Ignacy Jan Paderewski was a Polish musician who went on to become the third Prime Minister of Poland after being a spokesman for Polish independence for a long time. He also played a significant role as the nation's foreign minister in 1919 when he signed the Treaty of Versailles, an important event that marked the end of World War I.

 28 Carl Maria von Weber

Carl Maria von Weber
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 18, 1786
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Eutin, Germany
Died: June 5, 1826

Carl Maria von Weber was a German composer, virtuoso pianist, guitarist, and conductor. A significant musical figure in the Romantic era, he played a key role in the development of the German Romantische Oper (German Romantic opera). He also made significant contributions to vocal and choral music. He was a music critic as well and wrote music journalism. 

 29 Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart

Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 26, 1791
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: July 29, 1844

 30 Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist, Conductor
Birthdate: August 15, 1875
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London
Died: September 1, 1912

 31 Cesar Franck

Cesar Franck
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist, Organist
Birthdate: December 10, 1822
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Liège, Belgium
Died: November 8, 1890

Cesar Franck was a Belgian-born French Romantic composer, organist, pianist, and music teacher. Franck, who worked in Paris, is credited with popularizing new instruments made by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll all over France. From 1858 until his death in 1890, Franck also served as an organist at the Basilica of Saint Clotilde in Paris. Franck also taught future composers like Vincent d'Indy.

 32 Isaac Albeniz

Isaac Albeniz
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Famous As: Pianist, Composer, Conductor
Birthdate: May 29, 1861
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Camprodon, Spain
Died: May 18, 1909

Isaac Albeniz was a Spanish composer, conductor, and virtuoso pianist. Widely regarded as one of the most important composers of the Post-Romantic era, Albeniz had a strong influence on younger composers as well as his contemporaries. Many of his personal papers are preserved in several prominent institutions, such as the Library of Catalonia.

 33 Amy Beach

Amy Beach
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: September 5, 1867
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Henniker, New Hampshire, United States
Died: December 27, 1944

 34 Anton Rubinstein

Anton Rubinstein
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: November 28, 1829
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ofatinti, Moldova
Died: November 20, 1894

 35 Carl Czerny

Carl Czerny
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 21, 1791
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: July 15, 1857

Carl Czerny was an Austrian composer, pianist, and teacher of Czech origin.  Born into a musical family, he started playing the piano as a toddler and began composing at the age of seven. He was prolific in his music production and composed over a thousand works, with his music spanning the late Classical and early Romantic eras.  

 36 Cosima Wagner

Cosima Wagner
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: December 24, 1837
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bellagio, Italy
Died: April 1, 1930

 37 Florence Price

Florence Price
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1887 AD
Birthplace: Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
Died: 1953 AD

 38 Muzio Clementi

Muzio Clementi
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: January 23, 1752
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: March 10, 1832

 39 Enrique Granados

Enrique Granados
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Famous As: Composer of classical music
Birthdate: July 27, 1867
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lleida, Spain
Died: March 24, 1916

Spanish pianist and composer Enrique Granados gained fame with his nationalistic music. He is remembered for his iconic work Goyescas, which premiered as an opera in New York. Granados lost his life when the ship he was traveling to England in drowned after being torpedoed by a German submarine.

 40 Henry Cowell

Henry Cowell
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Famous As: Composer, Musicologist, Music theorist, Pianist
Birthdate: March 11, 1897
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Menlo Park
Died: December 10, 1965

 41 Max Reger

Max Reger
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Famous As: German Composer, Pianist, Organist and Conductor
Birthdate: March 19, 1873
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brand, Germany
Died: May 11, 1916

Max Reger was a German conductor, composer, organist, pianist, and academic teacher. Reger, who mainly composed Lieder, worked as a musical director at the court of Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen and at the Leipzig University Church. His works inspired Austrian-born composer Arnold Schoenberg. His life and career served as an inspiration to a couple of documentary films.

 42 Mily Balakirev

Mily Balakirev
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Famous As: Composer, pianist, and conductor known today primarily for his work promoting musical nationalism
Birthdate: December 31, 1836
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Died: May 29, 1910

 43 Ferruccio Busoni

Ferruccio Busoni
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: April 1, 1866
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Empoli, Italy
Died: July 27, 1924

Born to musician parents in Italy, Ferruccio Busoni was a child prodigy, having begun composing at the age of 7. He grew up to be a piano professor in Finland, and his work later took him to Moscow and the U.S. He is remembered for his opera and chamber pieces.

 44 Karol Szymanowski

Karol Szymanowski
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: October 6, 1882
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tymoshivka, Ukraine
Died: March 29, 1937

Karol Szymanowski was a Polish pianist and composer best remembered for his opera King Roger, which was composed between 1918 and 1924. An internationally recognized composer, Karol Szymanowski is the recipient of some of the highest national honors such as the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and the Order of Polonia Restituta.

 45 Charles-Valentin Alkan

Charles-Valentin Alkan
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 30, 1813
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 29, 1888

Charles-Valentin Alkan was a French virtuoso pianist and composer. During the peak of his career in the 1830s and 1840s, Alkan was counted among the most important pianists in Paris. Over the years, his music has been admired by several prominent musicians like Anton Rubinstein, Egon Petri, and Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji.

 46 Hans von Bülow

Hans von Bülow
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Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: January 8, 1830
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: February 12, 1894

German composer and conductor Hans von Bülow was one of the greatest musical figures of the Romantic era. Known for his work with composers such as Richard Wagner, he eventually lost his wife, Cosima, to him. In his final years, his failing health made him retire to Cairo, where he eventually died.

 47 John Field

John Field
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Famous As: Pianist, composer and teacher.
Birthdate: July 26, 1782
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dublin
Died: January 23, 1837

 48 Arnold Bax

Arnold Bax
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 8, 1883
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 3, 1953

 49 Otto Goldschmidt

Otto Goldschmidt
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: August 21, 1829
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: February 24, 1907

German composer and pianist Otto Goldschmidt was one of the first students at the Leipzig Conservatory. The son of a Jewish salesperson, he grew up to be one of the greatest musicians of the 19th century. He later settled in England and established the London Bach Choir.

 50 Nicolas Slonimsky

Nicolas Slonimsky
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Famous As: Conductor
Birthdate: April 27, 1894
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: December 25, 1995