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.
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.
German-born British composer Max Richter is known for his experiments with classical music, which he often mingles with contemporary electronica. Apart from performing at sold-out concerts at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, he has also composed for shows such as Black Mirror and Taboo and films such as Hostiles.
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.
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.
German-Japanese classical pianist Alice Sara Ott began learning the piano at age 5. At 13, she was the youngest finalist of the Hamamatsu International Piano Academy Competition ever. She has also designed bags and app stickers. In 2019, she announced on Instagram that she had been suffering from multiple sclerosis.
German composer and big band leader James Last, who headed the James Last Orchestra, had begun his career as a jazz bassist. At 17, he led the Becker-Last Ensemble, which disbanded after 7 years. He is known for his dance hits, especially his iconic Non-Stop Dancing albums.
One of the greatest classical violinists of the 21st century, Julia Fischer is also a skilled pianist. She first gained fame with her performances with conductor Lorin Maazel in New York. The German musician had started learning the violin at age 3 and the piano at age 4.
A pioneer in electronic music and founder of music band Tangerine Dream, Edgar Willmar Froese started playing guitar at the age of 15. At nineteen, he formed his first group, which disbanded within three years. By then, he had started experimenting and eventually formed Tangerine Dream, concurrently continuing to sing solo and release solo albums.
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.
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.
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.
The daughter of pianist parents, Olga Scheps discovered her love for piano at age 4. Born in Moscow, she later moved to Germany with her parents, where she began participating in musical events at age 12. She is best known for her interpretations of Classical and Romantic musicians.
Bruno Walter was a German-born conductor, composer, and pianist. Born in Berlin to a Jewish family, he began performing in concerts as a young boy. He escaped from Germany during the Third Reich, first going to France and then to USA. He continued his musical career and held high-profile positions with the New York Philharmonic and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.
Moritz Moszkowski was a pianist, teacher, and composer of Polish-Jewish descent. He achieved popularity during the late 19th century and was well respected by his peers. Moritz Moszkowski is credited with teaching future composers like Ernest Schelling, Joaquín Nin, Carl Lachmund, and Joaquín Turina.
German pianist and conductor Christoph Eschenbach had lost his mother at birth and his musicologist father to the Nazis. Thus, orphaned as a child, Eschenbach took up music as a cure for his trauma. He later grew up to be the director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra.
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.
Born to pianist parents Robert and Clara Schumann, Eugenie Schumann grew up to be not just a fine pianist but also an author, who had penned her memoir, The Schumanns and Johannes Brahms. It is believed, she was in a long-term lesbian relationship with Austrian singer Marie Fillunger.
Karl Richter was a German conductor, pianist, choirmaster, organist, and harpsichordist. Interested in music from a young age, he received his training under prominent musicians like Günther Ramin and Karl Straube. He played and conducted a wide range of soul-searching and intense music. He also founded the Münchener Bach-Chor and the Münchener Bach-Orchester in honor of Johann Sebastian Bach.
German-Japanese pianist Mona Asuka Ott is also known as the sister of classical pianist Alice Sara Ott. She began participating in piano events at age 4, and by 11, she was already performing as a duettist with Marcello Viotti on TV. She has conducted for Munich Symphony Orchestra and others.
Carl Reinecke was a German conductor, composer, and pianist who was active in the mid-Romantic Era. The son of a music teacher, he received his music education from his father. He began to compose as a child and became a popular musician as a teenager. He led the Gewandhaus Orchestra for almost three decades and published hundreds of musical works.
Ferdinand Ries was a German composer best remembered for his association with Ludwig van Beethoven. He studied under Beethoven before going on to become his secretary. Ries is credited with helping Beethoven with the premieres of the latter's Fifth and Sixth Symphonies which were used in the Beethoven concert of 22 December 1808.
Joachim Raff was a German-Swiss pianist, pedagogue, and composer. He is best remembered for his work at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt where he served as the institute's first director. He contributed immensely to the success of the conservatory and employed a number of renowned musicians as teachers, including Clara Schumann.
Friedrich Kalkbrenner was a German pianist, piano teacher, composer, and piano manufacturer. He is credited with composing over 200 piano works, including several piano operas and concertos. He also taught many future pianists like Camille-Marie Stamaty and Marie Pleyel. Friedrich Kalkbrenner was also a successful businessman who became enormously rich through his business deals.
Daniel Steibelt was a German composer and pianist who lived and worked in Paris and London. A prolific composer, Steibelt's works became popular throughout Europe. He also contributed immensely to several dramatic operas, such as Romeo et Juliette which was produced in 1793 at the Théâtre Feydeau.
Wilhelm Backhaus was a German pedagogue and pianist best remembered for his interpretations of Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, and Johannes Brahms. Apart from earning fame for his interpretations, Backhaus also became renowned as a chamber musician. Backhaus is also remembered for his association with the Nazis; he served as an executive advisor to a Nazi organization named Fellowship of German Artists.
Wolfgang Sawallisch was a German pianist and conductor best remembered as an acclaimed interpreter of Richard Georg Strauss. As a pianist, he worked with a number of renowned singers like Dame Margaret Price, Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. In 1993, Wolfgang Sawallisch was honored with the prestigious Suntory Music Award.
Eugen d'Albert was a Scottish-born German composer and pianist. A prolific composer, D'Albert produced 21 operas during his illustrious career that spanned more than 50 years. Eugen d'Albert also served as the director of the Universität der Künste Berlin where he had a major influence on musical education.
Ferdinand Hiller was a German pianist, composer, conductor, music director, and writer. He is credited with composing six operas and a violin concerto among other works. He also worked as a lecturer and writer and contributed immensely to several newspapers. Some of his published works are Musikalisches und Persönliches and Goethes musikalisches Leben.
Emil von Sauer was a German pianist, composer, piano teacher, and score editor. Sauer, who studied music under the popular Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, went on to become one of the most revered pianists of his generation. Sauer is also remembered for his association with Vienna Academy where he served as the head of the university's Meisterschule für Klavierspiel.
Kimiko Douglass-Ishizaka is a German Japanese pianist, composer, and former powerlifter and Olympic weightlifter. She achieved popularity in 1998 when she won a national music competition known as Deutscher Musikwettbewerb, along with her brothers Danjulo and Kiyondo Ishizaka. As a Olympic weightlifter, Kimiko competed at the 2008 German championships where she won three medals.
Konstantin Wecker is a German singer-songwriter, composer, actor, and author. In addition to contributing as a composer for theater, film, and children's musicals, Wecker has also released over 40 albums so far in his career. Also an activist, Konstantin Wecker voiced against the Iraq War in 2003 alongside his leftist Liedermacher colleagues Reinhard Mey and Hannes Wader.
Sir Charles Hallé was an Anglo-German conductor and pianist. He is best remembered as the founder of the famous symphony orchestra, The Hallé. Charles Hallé played an important role in the development of musical education in England. In 1890, he was knighted for his service to music.
Sophie Pacini is a German-Italian pianist who made her concert debut in 2000 when she was just eight years old. Since then, she has performed in several well-known concert halls around the world including the Wigmore Hall in London, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Konzerthaus in Vienna, and Philharmonie in Berlin. She has also performed at international festivals like Lucerne Festival.
Adolf von Henselt was a German virtuoso pianist and composer. Counted among the greatest virtuosos of his generation, Henselt served as a court pianist and teacher in St. Petersburg. His work and teaching had a great influence on the Russian school of music; Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff counted him among the most important influences on the Russian school of music.
George Henschel started his career as a pianist but later found success as a baritone. Born in Germany, he later acquired a British citizenship and performed as the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s first conductor. He was also knighted for his achievements. He was married to soprano Lilian June Bailey.
German pianist and conductor Bernhard Stavenhagen was one of the last students of Hungarian composer and pianist Franz Liszt and followed the legend’s virtuoso style. He was also known for his interpretations of Chopin and Beethoven. He taught piano at the Geneva Conservatory till his death.