Famous German Pianists

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Find out more about the greatest German Pianists, including Pope Benedict XVI, Hans Zimmer, Franz Liszt, Lena Meyer-Landrut and André Previn.
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 1 
Ludwig van Beethoven
(One of the Most Admired Composers and Pianists in the History of Western Music)
Ludwig van Beethoven
5
Birthdate: December 17, 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 
Johannes Brahms
(One of the Romantic Period's Most Revered and Popular Composers)
Johannes Brahms
4
Birthdate: May 7, 1833
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.
 3 
Robert Schumann
(One of the Greatest Composer of the Romantic Era which include 'Carnaval, Symphonic Studies and Kinderszenen')
Robert Schumann
3
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.
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 4 
Felix Mendelssohn
(Best Known for His Solo Piano Composition 'Songs Without Words' and Founder of 'Leipzig Conservatory')
Felix Mendelssohn
5
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. 

 5 
Max Richter
(One of the Best-Selling German Composers and Pianists)
Max Richter
3
Birthdate: March 22, 1966
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamelin, Germany

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.

 6 
Wilhelm Kempff
(German Pianist and Composer Known for His Interpretations of the Music of 'Ludwig Van Beethoven' and 'Franz Schubert')
Wilhelm Kempff
1
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.

 7 
Carl Maria von Weber
(A Significant Composer of the Romantic Era & Crucial Figure in the Development of German 'Romantische Oper')
Carl Maria von Weber
2
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. 

 8 
Alice Sara Ott
(Classical pianist)
Alice Sara Ott
2
Birthdate: August 1, 1988
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

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.

 9 
James Last
(One of the Best-Selling German Composers and Big Band Leader of the 'James Last Orchestra')
James Last
2
Birthdate: April 17, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bremen, Germany
Died: June 9, 2015

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.

 10 
Cosima Wagner
(Composer)
Cosima Wagner
2
Birthdate: December 24, 1837
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bellagio, Italy
Died: April 1, 1930
 11 
Julia Fischer
(German Classical Violinist and Pianist)
Julia Fischer
2
Birthdate: June 15, 1983
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

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.

 12 
Edgar Froese
(German Electronic Musician Best Known for Founding the Electronic Music Group 'Tangerine Dream')
Edgar Froese
2
Birthdate: June 6, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sovetsk, Russia
Died: January 20, 2015

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.

 13 
Max Reger
(German Composer, Pianist, Organist and Conductor)
Max Reger
2
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.

 14 
Hans von Bülow
(Virtuoso Pianist and Romantic-Era Musician Who Became One of the 19th Century’s Most Authoritative Conductors)
Hans von Bülow
2
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.

 15 
Otto Goldschmidt
2
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.

 16 
Olga Scheps
(Pianist)
Olga Scheps
1
Birthdate: January 4, 1986
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

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.

 17 
Bruno Walter
(One of the Most Famous Conductors of the 20th Century)
Bruno Walter
2
Birthdate: September 15, 1876
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: February 17, 1962

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

 18 
Moritz Moszkowski
(Composer, Pianist)
Moritz Moszkowski
1
Birthdate: August 23, 1854
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: March 4, 1925

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.

 19 
Christoph Eschenbach
1
Birthdate: February 20, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland

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.

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.

 21 
Eugenie Schumann
1
Birthdate: December 1, 1851
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, Germany
Died: September 25, 1938

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.

 22 
Karl Richter
(Conductor)
Karl Richter
1
Birthdate: October 15, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Plauen, Germany
Died: February 15, 1981

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. 

 23 
Mona Asuka Ott
1
Birthdate: January 1, 1991
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

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.

 24 
Carl Reinecke
(German Composer and Conductor Best Known for His Flute Sonata 'Undine')
Carl Reinecke
1
Birthdate: June 23, 1824
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Altona, Hamburg, Germany
Died: March 10, 1910

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.  

 25 
Ferdinand Ries
(Composer)
Ferdinand Ries
1
Birthdate: November 28, 1784
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bonn, Germany
Died: January 13, 1838

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. 

 26 
Joachim Raff
(German-Swiss Composer and Pedagogue)
Joachim Raff
1
Birthdate: May 27, 1822
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lachen, Switzerland
Died: June 24, 1882

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.

 27 
Friedrich Kalkbrenner
(First Pianist to Introduce Long and Rapid Octave Passages in Both Hands)
Friedrich Kalkbrenner
1
Birthdate: November 2, 1785
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: near Kassel, Germany
Died: June 10, 1849

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.

 28 
Daniel Steibelt
1
Birthdate: October 22, 1765
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 20, 1823

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.

 29 
Wilhelm Backhaus
(German Pianist Known for His Interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin and Brahms)
Wilhelm Backhaus
1
Birthdate: March 26, 1884
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: July 5, 1969

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.

 30 
Wolfgang Sawallisch
(German Conductor and Pianist)
Wolfgang Sawallisch
1
Birthdate: August 26, 1923
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: February 22, 2013

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.

 31 
Eugen d'Albert
(A Prolific Composer and Pianist of His Generation)
Eugen d'Albert
1
Birthdate: April 10, 1864
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Died: March 3, 1932

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.

 32 
Ferdinand Hiller
(German Composer, Conductor, Pianist, Writer and Music Director)
Ferdinand Hiller
1
Birthdate: October 24, 1811
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: May 10, 1885

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.

 33 
Emil von Sauer
(German Composer and One of the Most Distinguished Pianists of His Generation)
Emil von Sauer
0
Birthdate: October 8, 1862
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: April 27, 1942

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.  

 34 
Kimiko Douglass-Ishizaka
(Composer, Pianist)
Kimiko Douglass-Ishizaka
1
Birthdate: December 4, 1976
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bonn, Germany

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.   

 35 
Konstantin Wecker
(Singer-songwriter)
Konstantin Wecker
1
Birthdate: June 1, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

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.

 36 
Charles Hallé
(German Pianist and Conductor, and Founder of the 'Hallé Orchestra')
Charles Hallé
0
Birthdate: April 11, 1819
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hagen, Germany
Died: October 25, 1895

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.

 37 
Sophie Pacini
(Pianist)
Sophie Pacini
0
Birthdate: December 12, 1991
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

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.

 38 
Adolf von Henselt
0
Birthdate: May 12, 1814
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Schwabach
Died: October 10, 1889

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.

 39 
George Henschel
(German-British Baritone, Pianist, Conductor, and Composer)
George Henschel
0
Birthdate: February 18, 1850
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: September 10, 1934

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.

 40 
Bernhard Stavenhagen
(German Pianist, Composer and Conductor)
Bernhard Stavenhagen
0
Birthdate: November 24, 1862
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Greiz, Germany
Died: December 25, 1914

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.