Famous 20th Century Pianists

Find out more about the greatest 20th Century Pianists, including Freddie Mercury, Liberace, Elton John, John Williams and Ross Lynch.

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

Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century Pianists

 1 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.

 2 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.

 3 Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 5, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Stone Town, Tanzania
Died: November 24, 1991

Legendary singer, songwriter and lead vocalist of the British rock band, Queen, Frederick Bulsara adopted the name Freddie Mercury which aptly suits his on-stage vibrant and exuberant persona. A four-octave vocal range musician, Mercury owned every stage he set foot on as much with his vivid performance as with his superhuman voice modulation.  

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 4 Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: March 25, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died: August 16, 2018

Widely regarded as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was a singer-songwriter, actress, and civil rights activist. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Aretha was ranked number one on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list in 2010. Having sold over 75 million records, she is also one of the best-selling musicians ever.

 5 Ray Charles

Ray Charles
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 23, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Albany, Georgia, United States
Died: June 10, 2004

Ray Charles went on to become a great singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist, despite suffering blindness due to glaucoma early in his life. One of the most respected and decorated musicians of all time, Ray Charles has been named in lists, such as 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. He pioneered the soul music genre, which remains his greatest contribution.

 6 John Williams

John Williams
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 8, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Queens, New York City

John Williams is an American composer, pianist, trombonist, and conductor. Widely considered the greatest film composer ever, John Williams has played a significant role in the American film industry by composing music for films, such as the Jurassic Park films, Star Wars saga, the Indiana Jones films, and Schindler's List. He has also influenced several other composers like Marcus Paus.

 7 Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton
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Famous As: One of the Best-Selling Female R&B Artist In History
Birthdate: October 7, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Severn, Maryland, United States
Soul and R&B sensation Toni Braxton initially performed with her sisters in The Braxtons. She won three of her seven Grammys with her debut album. Known for her Billboard-charters such as Un-break My Heart, she also collaborated with Babyface, competed in Dancing with the Stars, and produced Braxton Family Values.
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 8 Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 17, 1919
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama, United States
Died: February 15, 1965
Jazz pianist/singer Nat King Cole, father of singer Natalie Cole, is best remembered for tracks such as Too Young and Mona Lisa. His last album, L-O-V-E, was recorded while he battled lung cancer. With The Nat King Cole Show, he became the first African-American to host his own show.

 9 Liberace

Liberace
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Famous As: Pianist, Singer
Birthdate: May 16, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: West Allis, Wisconsin, United States
Died: February 4, 1987
Known as “Mr. Showmanship,” pianist, singer, and actor Liberace shot to fame with The Liberace Show, which he ended regularly with his theme song I'll Be Seeing You. The highest-paid entertainer from the 1950s-1970s, he performed in concerts and tours frequently. He also released several autobiographies and cookbooks.

 10 Norah Jones

Norah Jones
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: March 30, 1979
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York, United States

Norah Jones is an American singer, pianist, and songwriter. Having sold over 50 million records worldwide, Jones is one of the most successful and best-selling singers of her generation. She was ranked 60th on the artists of the 2000s decade list published by Billboard magazine. Norah Jones has won several prestigious awards including multiple Grammy Awards and Billboard Music Awards.

 11 Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington
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Famous As: One of the Greatest Jazz Composers & Bandleader
Birthdate: April 29, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: May 24, 1974
Jazz legend Duke Ellington managed his orchestra till his death, and over a 6-decade-long career. He is known for his collaborations with legends such as pianist and composer Billy Strayhorn. He termed his music “American music” and refused to attach any category to it. He received a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

 12 Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist & Conductor
Birthdate: June 17, 1882
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lomonosov, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: April 6, 1971

Four-time Grammy-winning Russian composer and pianist Igor Stravinsky is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. He is remembered for his ballets The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring. He broke the traditional flow of music and incorporated his own style.

 13 Roger Waters

Roger Waters
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Famous As: Composer, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Screenwriter, Singer, Pianist, Record producer
Birthdate: September 6, 1943
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Surrey

Co-founder of the rock band, Pink Floyd, Roger Waters is celebrated singer, songwriter and composer. Beginning his career with rhythm guitar, he initially served solely as a bassist in Pink Floyd before emerging as their lyricist, co-lead vocalist, and conceptual leader. Later he left the group due to creative difference and embarked on his solo career, releasing numerous albums and singles

 14 Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 13, 1977
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City, United States

 15 Bob Seger

Bob Seger
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Musician
Birthdate: May 6, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Singer, songwriter, and musician, Bob Seger, first gained fame in the 1960s as a heartland rock artist. Known for his classic raspy and powerful voice, he recorded many songs that dealt with themes like love and women. With worldwide sales of more than 75 million records, he is one of the world's best-selling artists of all time.

 16 Harry Connick Jr.

Harry Connick Jr.
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Famous As: American singer
Birthdate: September 11, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Grammy-winning singer-actor Harry Connick Jr. was born to a lawyer mother and an attorney father, who also owned a record store. He mastered the piano as a child and formed his first jazz band at 10. He later soared to fame with the multi-platinum soundtrack of When Harry Met Sally...

 17 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.

 18 Alicia Witt

Alicia Witt
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 21, 1975
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

 19 Taylor Hawkins

Taylor Hawkins
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: February 17, 1972
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fort Worth, Texas, USA

 20 Jack Antonoff

Jack Antonoff
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 31, 1984
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bergenfield, New Jersey, USA

 21 Serj Tankian

Serj Tankian
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: August 21, 1967
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Beirut, Lebanon

Serj Tankian is an Armenian-American record producer, singer, and songwriter. Tankian is credited with co-founding the popular band System of a Down. Renowned for his wide vocal range and unusual delivery, Serj Tankian is widely considered one of the best heavy metal vocalists of all time. Also a political activist, Tankian co-founded Axis of Justice, a non-profit organization.

 22 Burt Bacharach

Burt Bacharach
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Famous As: Pianist, Composer, Songwriter
Birthdate: May 12, 1928
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Legendary musician and songwriter Burt Bacharach teamed up with lyricist Hal David and created many popular songs from the 1950s to the 1980s, including countless Billboard charters. He has won six Grammys and three Academy Awards for his tracks, and most of his songs were sung by Dionne Warwick. 

 23 Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein
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Famous As: Conductor, Composer
Birthdate: August 25, 1918
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lawrence, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 14, 1990

Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, music educator, conductor, pianist, author, and humanitarian. One of the most important cultural personalities of 20th century America, Bernstein influenced many generations of musicians. He is also credited with mentoring famous conductors like John Mauceri, Herbert Blomstedt, Alexander Frey, Marin Alsop, and Edo de Waart among many others.

 24 Paul Reiser

Paul Reiser
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Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: March 30, 1957
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA

 25 Debbie Gibson

Debbie Gibson
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Actress
Birthdate: August 31, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

 26 Glenn Gould

Glenn Gould
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: September 25, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada
Died: October 4, 1982

Glenn Gould was a Canadian classical pianist, counted among the most celebrated pianists of the 20th century. He was also an interpreter of the keyboard works of Johann Sebastian Bach. He was known for his remarkable technical proficiency and unorthodox musical interpretations. He was a writer and composer as well. The Glenn Gould Foundation was established in his honor.   

 27 George Gershwin

George Gershwin
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist
Birthdate: September 26, 1898
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: July 11, 1937

George Gershwin was an American pianist, composer, and painter. His work Porgy and Bess is widely regarded as an American cultural classic and one of the 20th century's most important American operas. Many of his compositions have been used in films and television series. His life and work inspired the 1945 biographical movie, Rhapsody in Blue.

 28 Jimmy Dean

Jimmy Dean
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 10, 1928
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Plainview, Texas, United States
Died: June 13, 2010
Jimmy Dean was an American television host, country music singer, businessman, and actor. He is credited with creating and popularizing a food company named Jimmy Dean Foods. He was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, although he was still alive when he was nominated for the honor in 2010.

 29 Don Shirley

Don Shirley
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: January 29, 1927
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida, USA
Died: April 6, 2013

 30 Jon Batiste

Jon Batiste
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: November 11, 1986
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kenner, Louisiana, United States

 31 Nick Cave

Nick Cave
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 22, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Warracknabeal
Nick Cave is best known as the lead singer of the rock band Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. The ARIA Hall of Fame inductee is known for the intense themes of his songs, such as death. He has also written several books, including novels and anthologies of his poetry. 

 32 Randy Newman

Randy Newman
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Pianist
Birthdate: November 28, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

 33 Teddy Pendergrass

Teddy Pendergrass
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 26, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kingstree, South Carolina, USA
Died: January 13, 2010

 34 Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten
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Famous As: Composer, conductor and pianist
Birthdate: November 22, 1913
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lowestoft
Died: December 4, 1976

 35 Fats Domino

Fats Domino
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter, Pianist
Birthdate: February 26, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: October 24, 2017

 36 Teddy Geiger

Teddy Geiger
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: September 16, 1988
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rochester, New York, USA

 37 Yanni

Yanni
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 14, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kalamata, Greece

Yanni is a Greek keyboardist, pianist, composer, and music producer. He achieved international recognition by organizing and producing concerts at historic monuments, such as Taj Mahal, Burj Khalifa, and the Great Sphinx of Giza. Adhering to his one world, one people philosophy, Yanni works with musicians of various nationalities to create music that incorporates an eclectic fusion of ethnic sounds.

 38 Helen Reddy

Helen Reddy
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 25, 1941
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Australia-born singer-songwriter Helen Maxine Reddy moved to the USA when she won a ticket to New York City, eventually remaining there, struggling to establish herself until she got her first hit, I Don’t Know How to Love Him. However, her best remembered song was I Am Woman, which went on to become a feminist anthem, making her an international star.

 39 Brian McFadden

Brian McFadden
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 12, 1980
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Artane, Dublin, Ireland

Once the face of Irish boy band Westlife, Brian McFadden later went solo. Starting his career with live pop-RnB gigs in Dublin clubs, he later mastered soft rock, too. He was a judge on Australia's Got Talent and also participated in shows such as Dancing on Ice and The Jump.

 40 Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Bandleader, Conductor, Jazz musician, Keyboardist, Actor, Musician, Pianist, Film score composer
Birthdate: April 12, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago

 41 Gram Parsons

Gram Parsons
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Famous As: Singer, Singer-songwriter, Songwriter, Musician, Guitarist, Pianist
Birthdate: November 5, 1946
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Winter Haven, Florida, United States
Died: September 19, 1973

 42 Aaron Lewis

Aaron Lewis
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 13, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Springfield, Vermont, USA

Aaron Lewis is an American singer, musician, and songwriter. He is credited with founding the rock band Staind where he also serves as the rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist. Also known for his philanthropic efforts, Aaron Lewis works closely with a non-profit organization called It Takes a Community.

 43 Tori Amos

Tori Amos
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Famous As: Musician and Singer
Birthdate: August 22, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Newton
Alternative rock singer Tori Amos is known for her songs that highlight issues such as feminism. Amos was the youngest to win a music scholarship to the Peabody Institute. She performed with the group Y Kant Tori Read before going solo. She is associated with RAINN, a sexual abuse helpline. 

 44 Neil Sedaka

Neil Sedaka
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 13, 1939
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Singer, pianist, and composer Neil Sedaka initially co-founded the group The Tokens. Most of his collaborations have been with lyricists Phil Cody and Howard Greenfield. He has delivered hits such as Breaking Up Is Hard to Do and Bad Blood. He also launched free online mini-concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 45 Andy Biersack

Andy Biersack
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Famous As: Singer/Pianist
Birthdate: December 26, 1990
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio

Andy Biersack is an American pianist and singer-songwriter. He is credited with founding a rock band named Black Veil Brides where he also serves as the lead vocalist. In 2011, Biersack was mentioned in Revolver magazine's 100 Greatest Living Rock Stars list. In 2012, he was ranked fourth in Kerrang magazine's 50 Greatest Rock Stars in the World Today list.

 46 Harry Nilsson

Harry Nilsson
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Famous As: Former Singer-songwriter known for Everybody's Talkin' and Without You, both of which won Grammy Awards
Birthdate: June 15, 1941
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: January 15, 1994

 47 Leon Russell

Leon Russell
5
Famous As: Singer, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Pianist, Guitarist
Birthdate: April 2, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lawton
Died: November 13, 2016

 48 Marie Fredriksson

Marie Fredriksson
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 30, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Össjö, Sweden
Died: December 9, 2019

As one half of the Swedish pop rock duo Roxette (with Per Gessle), singer and songwriter Marie Fredriksson enjoyed international fame in the 1980s-1990s with albums like Look Sharp! and Joyride. Their single It Must Have Been Love was featured in the movie Pretty Woman. Earlier, in Sweden ,she had also enjoyed success as a solo artist releasing numerous albums.

 49 Vic Mignogna

Vic Mignogna
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 27, 1962
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Greensburg, Pennsylvania, USA

Vic Mignogna is an American musician and voice actor. He is renowned for providing the English dubs for characters from Japanese anime shows and films like Dragon Ball, Ouran High School Host Club, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, and Digimon Adventure tri. His voice-over work in Fullmetal Alchemist, where he voiced Edward Elric, earned him the American Anime Award in 2007.

 50 Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco
4
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: February 16, 1982
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States