Famous French Pianists

Find out more about the greatest French Pianists, including Camille Saint-Saëns, Gabriel Fauré, Pierre Boulez, Michel Legrand and Richard Clayderman.

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 French Pianists

 1 
Maurice Ravel
(One of the Leading Composers of Impressionist Music, Known for His Orchestral Work "Boléro,")

Maurice Ravel
3
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.

 2 
Erik Satie
(Composer)

Erik Satie
3
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.

 3 
Christine and the Queens
(Singer-songwriter)

Christine and the Queens
4
Birthdate: June 1, 1988
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, France

Hélöise Letissier, also known as Christine and the Queens and Chris, often challenges gender stereotypes through her music. The queer electropop and indie artist was inspired by drag queens in London, after she quit theater school following a break-up. Known for her chart-busting debut album, Chaleur humaine, she identifies as pansexual.

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 4 
Ève Curie
(Journalist and Pianist Best Known for Writing a Biography of Her Mother “Madame Curie”)

Ève Curie
3
Birthdate: December 6, 1904
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 22, 2007

French and American writer, journalist, and pianist Ève Curie was one of the daughters of scientists Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. She was the only one in the Curie family who did not choose a career in science. She authored her mother’s biography and was actively involved with UNICEF, helping women and children in developing countries.

 5 

Khatia Buniatishvili
3
Birthdate: June 21, 1987
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Batumi, Adjar SSR, Georgian SSR, USSR

Khatia Buniatishvili is a Georgian-French pianist. Buniatishvili has been playing since the age of three and gave her first concert when she was just six years old. She then went on to play at an international stage at the age of 10. Buniatishvili is known for her association with Sony Classical, which has produced many of her solo piano albums.

 6 
Gabriel Fauré
(One of the Major French Composers Associated With the End of Romanticism.)

Gabriel Fauré
3
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.

 7 
Richard Clayderman
(Pianist who has released numerous albums including the compositions of Paul de Senneville, Olivier Toussaint and Marc Minier)

Richard Clayderman
3
Birthdate: December 28, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France

Richard Clayderman is a French pianist who has recorded more than 1,300 melodies so far in his illustrious career. Having sold over 70 million copies worldwide, which includes 70 platinum and 267 gold albums, Clayderman is the world's most successful pianist, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. 

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 8 
Francis Poulenc
(Composer, Pianist)

Francis Poulenc
3
Birthdate: January 7, 1899
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 30, 1963

French composer Francis Poulenc was most self-taught, as he was not encouraged to join a music school by his pharmaceutical manufacturer father. Part of the legendary “Les Six” of French music, Poulenc was also a skilled pianist. He is also remembered for the opera Les dialogues des Carmélites.

 9 
Alfred Cortot
(French Pianist and Conductor Known for His Piano Trio with Violinist 'Jacques Thibaud' and Cellist 'Pablo Casals')

Alfred Cortot
1
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.

 10 
Michel Legrand
(One of the Most Successful Foreign-Born Composers Ever to Grace the American Best-Seller Lists)

Michel Legrand
2
Birthdate: February 24, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 26, 2019

Michel Legrand was a French musician, conductor, composer, arranger, and jazz pianist. A prolific composer, Legrand wrote more than 200 television and film scores, apart from several songs. Over the course of his illustrious career, which spanned more than seven decades, Michel Legrand won several prestigious awards including three Academy Awards, five Grammy Awards, and a Golden Globe Award.

 11 

Victoria Legrand
2
Birthdate: May 28, 1981
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France

Victoria Legrand is a French-American musician best known as one-half of the popular dream-pop duo Beach House where she performs as the lead vocalist, keyboardist, and songwriter. Legrand is blessed with a contralto vocal range and her voice is often compared to those of Hope Sandoval and Nico.

 12 

Gyorgy Cziffra
1
Birthdate: November 5, 1921
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: January 15, 1994

Hungarian-French virtuoso pianist Gyorgy Cziffra was born into a poor family of gypsy musicians and lost his father and sister to starvation. His piano skills got him a job at a circuses and nightclubs. He eventually trained at the Franz Liszt Academy. Following his son’s death in a fire, he stopped performing.

 13 
Stéphane Grappelli
(Former jazz violinist best known as a founder of the Quintette du Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt in 1934)

Stéphane Grappelli
2
Birthdate: January 26, 1908
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 1, 1997

Stéphane Grappelli was a French-Italian violinist best remembered as the co-founder of a jazz group named The Quintette du Hot Club de France. The group became famous for being one of the first jazz bands to house only string instruments. Nicknamed the grandfather of jazz violinists, Stéphane Grappelli went on to play in concerts well into his 80s.

 14 
Darius Milhaud
(Former composer who rose to fame as a member of the group Les Six)

Darius Milhaud
2
Birthdate: September 4, 1892
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Marseille, France
Died: June 22, 1974

Darius Milhaud was a French composer, teacher, and conductor. One of the 20th century's most prolific composers, Milhaud was part of a famous group known as The Group of Six. He also contributed greatly to the French film industry, composing music for films like Madame Bovary and The Beloved Vagabond. Milhaud is often counted among the most important modernist composers. 

 15 
Gilbert Becaud
(Singer Best Known as 'Monsieur 100,000 Volts' With Hits Like 'Nathalie' and 'Et maintenant')

Gilbert Becaud
2
Birthdate: October 24, 1927
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Toulon, France
Died: December 18, 2001
Nicknamed Monsieur 100,000 Volts, pianist, singer, and composer Gilbert Becaud mesmerized his listeners with iconic pieces such as What Now My Love? and Et Maintenant. He was known for his signature polka-dotted navy tie and for his habit of smoking. A polyglot, he was fluent in six languages.

 16 
Michel Petrucciani
(Jazz pianist)

Michel Petrucciani
2
Birthdate: December 28, 1962
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Orange, France
Died: January 6, 1999

Michel Petrucciani was a French jazz pianist who was born with a condition called osteogenesis imperfecta which affected his physical growth. In spite of his health condition, Petrucciani went on to become one of the most successful jazz pianists of his generation. Interestingly, the genetic disease contributed greatly to his playing style as well as his personality.

 17 

Charles-Valentin Alkan
2
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.

 18 
Francis Lai
(Former Composer noted for his film scores who won the 1970 Oscar for Best Music, Original Score)

Francis Lai
2
Birthdate: April 26, 1932
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nice, France
Died: November 7, 2018

 19 

Hélène Grimaud
2
Birthdate: November 7, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Aix-en-Provence, France

Hélène Grimaud is a French pianist whose recordings have earned her numerous accolades, such as the Cannes Classical Recording of the Year, Grand Prix du disque, Midem Classic Award, and Echo Klassik Award. Apart from being a virtuoso pianist, Grimaud is also a passionate human rights activist, wildlife conservationist, and writer. She is credited with founding the Wolf Conservation Center.

 20 
Fania Fenelon
(Pianist)

Fania Fenelon
2
Birthdate: September 2, 1918
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 19, 1983

 21 

Jacques Loussier
2
Birthdate: October 26, 1934
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Angers, France
Died: March 5, 2019

 22 

Brigitte Engerer
1
Birthdate: October 27, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tunis, Tunisia
Died: June 23, 2012

 23 
Cécile Chaminade
(Former Pianist, Composer who was awarded the Légion d'Honneur, a first for a female composer)

Cécile Chaminade
1
Birthdate: August 8, 1857
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 13, 1944

 24 
Georges Moustaki
(Singer-songwriter)

Georges Moustaki
2
Birthdate: May 3, 1934
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
Died: May 23, 2013

 25 

Emmanuel Chabrier
1
Birthdate: January 18, 1841
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ambert, France
Died: September 13, 1894

 26 
Gyorgy Kurtag
(Composer)

Gyorgy Kurtag
1
Birthdate: February 19, 1926
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lugoj, Romania
Born to Hungarian parents in Romania, Gyorgy Kurtag grew up to become one of the greatest classical composers and pianists of his country. He has been part of many orchestras and ensembles, such as the Berlin Philharmonic, and has taught at the Liszt Academy. His numerous awards include the Kossuth Prize.

Johann Friedrich Franz Burgmuller
1
Birthdate: December 4, 1806
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Regensburg, Germany
Died: February 13, 1874

Born into the musical family of a composer father and a pianist/singer mother, Johann Friedrich Franz Burgmuller was no stranger to music in childhood. A talented cellist, too, the German Romantic composer later settled in Paris, where he composed everything from piano pieces to waltzes and ballets.

 28 
Louise Farrenc
(Composer)

Louise Farrenc
1
Birthdate: May 31, 1804
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 15, 1875

 29 

Jean-Yves Thibaudet
1
Birthdate: September 7, 1961
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lyon, France

 30 
Wanda Landowska
(Harpsichordist)

Wanda Landowska
1
Birthdate: July 5, 1879
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Died: August 16, 1959

Wanda Landowska was a Polish pianist and harpsichordist who is credited with reinvigorating the popularity of the harpsichord through her performances, writings, teaching, and recordings in the early 20th century. In 1933, Wanda Landowska became the first person to record Goldberg Variations, which were originally composed by Johann Sebastian Bach for keyboard, on the harpsichord.

 31 

Charlotte de Rothschild
1
Birthdate: May 6, 1825
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 20, 1899

 32 
Ignaz Pleyel
(Composer)

Ignaz Pleyel
2
Birthdate: June 18, 1757
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lower Austria, Austria
Died: November 14, 1831

 33 
Maxence Cyrin
(Pianist, Composer)

Maxence Cyrin
1
Birthdate: January 30, 1971
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Besançon, France

 34 

Claude Bolling
1
Birthdate: April 10, 1930
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cannes, France
Died: December 29, 2020

 35 

Emil Waldteufel
1
Birthdate: December 9, 1837
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France
Died: February 12, 1915

 36 

Walter Gieseking
1
Birthdate: November 5, 1895
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lyon, France
Died: October 26, 1956

 37 
André Messager
(Composer)

André Messager
1
Birthdate: December 30, 1853
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Montluçon, France
Died: February 24, 1929

 38 
Jean Françaix
(Composer)

Jean Françaix
1
Birthdate: May 23, 1912
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Le Mans, France
Died: September 25, 1997

 39 

Alexandre Tharaud
1
Birthdate: December 9, 1968
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

 40 
Riopy
(Pianist)

Riopy
1
Birthdate: 1983 AD
Birthplace: France

 41 

Lucas Debargue
1
Birthdate: October 23, 1990
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France

 42 

Alexandre Tansman
1
Birthdate: June 12, 1897
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Łódź, Poland
Died: November 15, 1986

 43 
Sébastien Érard
(French musical instrument maker)

Sébastien Érard
1
Birthdate: April 5, 1752
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France
Died: August 5, 1831

 44 
Daniel Levi
(Singer-Songwriter)

Daniel Levi
1
Birthdate: August 26, 1961
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Constantine, Algeria

 45 
Yvonne Loriod
(Pianist)

Yvonne Loriod
1
Birthdate: January 20, 1924
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Houilles, France
Died: May 17, 2010

 46 

Marcelle Meyer
0
Birthdate: May 22, 1897
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lille, France
Died: November 17, 1958

 47 
Alain Mion
(Pianist)

Alain Mion
1
Birthdate: January 14, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Casablanca, Morocco

 48 
Carlos Salzedo
(Musician)

Carlos Salzedo
1
Birthdate: April 6, 1885
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Arcachon, France
Died: August 17, 1961

 49 

Robert Casadesus
1
Birthdate: April 7, 1899
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 19, 1972

 50 
Henri Herz
(Pianist)

Henri Herz
0
Birthdate: January 6, 1803
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: January 5, 1888