13 Famous Piano Composers Of All Time

famous piano composers

From organ to Harpsichord, from forte piano to modern piano, piano’s journey has not been limited to the evolution of the instrument. It witnessed many great composers whose work illustrated and enriched music throughout the ages.

Compressing them in a list is a challenging task.

Yet, here we are with 13 famous piano composers of all time. Let’s take a journey through all the eras and meet notable composers of those era.

13 Famous Composers of All Time

Baroque Era

The first piano-like instrument was the harpsichord. Harpsichord was played by plucking the strings. The precise and formal tone of the instrument defines the Baroque music of this era.

1. George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel was a significant composer of the Baroque Era. He started composing at the young age of nine.

Did you know the tradition of standing up during the performance of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah dates back to King George III?

His native German influence with that of England made his operas, organ, concertos, oratorios, and anthem powerful.

Handel gained royal patronage after impressing  King George with one of his masterpieces, the Water Music of 1716. His most famous compositions are Messiah and Zadok the Priest.

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2. Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

Antonio Vivaldi

Born to violinist Giovanni Battista Vivaldi and Camilla Calicchio, Antonio Vivaldi showed natural talent from a very young age.

Did you know Classical era composers like Mozart and Bach were directly influenced by Vivaldi?

He served as a priest (known as “il Prete Rosso”) for a brief period. That influenced him to bring together Baroque music and religious element.

Masterpieces of Vivaldi’s career were L’estro armonico (The Harmonic Inspiration), and Farnace. The magnum opus of his compositions was The Four Seasons.

Classical Era

During the Classical era, Harpsichord was replaced by ‘Fortepiano.’ This allowed musicians to play with chords to make the compositions more expressive. The Classical era was driven by elegance and not alone by seriousness.

3. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is an influential and famous piano composer in the history of classical music.

Mozart was a child prodigy. His credits span from opera to symphony.

Mozart wrote the first symphony in London and the last in Vienna. His final symphony, Symphony 41, was later named as Jupiter.

His other well-known works are: Sonata, Paris, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (‘A Little Night Music’). Mozart’s last opera was The Magic Flute. He died at the age of 35, leaving another masterpiece, Requiem, unfinished.


Did you know that the first piano keys were entirely made of wood?


4. Marianna Martines (1744-1812)

Marianna Martines

Did you know Martines was a friend of Mozart and Haydn?

Marianna Martinez was one of the well-known female composers of the classical period.

She charmed her audience, Empress Maria Theresa, with her beautiful voice.

Her surviving works are 2 oratorios; 4 masses; 6 motets; psalm cantatas; secular cantatas; 3 keyboard sonatas, 3 keyboard concertos; and 1 symphony.

Check out EnthuZiastic piano classes for a personalized piano learning experience.

5. Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1845)

Fanny Mendelssohn

Fanny Mendelssohn grew up in Berlin with her younger brother Felix Mendelssohn. She received musical education from Ludwig Berger.

To her credit, Fanny Mendelssohn has a piano trio, a piano quartet, an orchestral overture, four cantatas, and more than 125 pieces for the piano, most of which remained unpublished in her lifetime.

In 1846, she published a collection of songs as Opus 1. Through her compositions, she marked the transition of the era.

Did you know Easter Sonata was actually composed by Fanny Mendelssohn?

6. Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Ludwig Van Beethoven

Though Mozart was the star of the Classical era, Beethoven soon surpassed him. He was considered a piano virtuoso in his 20s.

Initially, he mastered Mozart and Haydn. He added more expression to the compositions, seamlessly moving the audience to tears. Beethoven later became deaf, but it did not stop him from composing 722 works.

He marked the transition from the classical to the romantic era by moving away from rigid structure to expression in compositions. Moonlight Sonata is an excellent example of the same.

Do you want to know more about famous pieces of Beethoven?

Read 11 Easy and Most Famous Beethoven Piano Pieces to quench your thirst.

Romantic Era

The Romantic era saw a dramatic change. Forte piano became a piano with 88 keys allowing composers to express themselves more freely. Besides, the industrial boom helped to develop better means to travel. More traveling led to varieties of genres and new types of pieces.

7. Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)

Frederic Chopin - famous piano composer


Frederic Chopin was a great composer and piano virtuoso of Polish descent.

Chopin, like his predecessors, was a child prodigy. He settled in Paris at the age of 21 and produced his first and most popular ballade, Ballade No.1 in G minor.

He was a poetic genius with a high-profile love life and a mysterious persona. Chopin appeared only 30 times in public in his 39 years of life.

He advocated absolute music of the romantic era through his compositions, most of which are solo. Chopin showed influences of Polish folklore and the intimate atmosphere of Paris Salon in his works.

His major piano works are Sonatas, Mazurkas, Waltzes, Nocturnes, Polonaises, Études, Impromptus, Scherzos, and Préludes, some published only after his death. The 21 Nocturnes is a gem in the piano’s repertoire.

Check out EnthuZiastic piano classes for a personalized piano learning experience.

8. Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

Franz Liszt

Hungarian by birth Franz Liszt was the most outstanding piano composer the world had ever seen. He gained fame during the early 19th century.

His remarkable creations include songs and orchestral works, symphonies, sacred choral works, and masses.

He composed pieces predominantly for piano solos, yet that did not limit his vastness of compositions. Some of his well-known pieces are Mephisto Waltzes and A Faust Symphony.

Russian virtuoso Anton Rubinstein wrote for Liszt, “Let us never put anybody on a parallel with Liszt, either as a pianist or a musician and least of all as a man for Liszt is more than all that – Liszt is an ideal!”

Did you know two proponents of the romantic era, Chopin and Liszt, were close friends?

9. Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

Clara Schumann - famous piano composer

Schumann was a German pianist, composer, and piano teacher. Her parents were piano teachers too.She was married to the composer Robert Schumann.

She had a successful career in concert for 61 years. She claimed success when she was just 14.

She composed solo piano pieces, a piano concerto, chamber music, choral pieces, and songs.Though she lost her confidence in composing, after the early demise of her husband.

Clara Schumann was a prolific piano educator at Dr. Hoch’s Konservatorium in Frankfurt.

Did you know an image of Clara Schumann from an 1835 lithograph was featured on the 100 Deutsche Mark banknote from 1989 to 2002?

20th Century and Contemporary Era

The 20th century and contemporary era is an era of pop and classical music. It is an era of sub-genres. Composers employ impressionism, expressionism, and minimalism to create a variety of compositions.

10. Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy was from France. He sought fame at the age of 40 by employing the freedom of the Romantic era to compose his “symphonic sketches,” La Mer.”

He was considered the first Impressionist Composer though he rejected it largely.

Debussy’s compositions were a reaction to German music and the German composer and theatre director Wagner.

His only completed opera was Pelléas et Mélisande. Claire De Lune is an example of his remarkable prowess.

11. Erik Satie (1866-1925)

Erik Satie - famous piano composer

Did you know Erik Satie invented the term ‘Gymnopedie’ for his piano composition?

Eric Alfred Leslie Satie A.K.A Erik Satie was a French composer. He marked the

beginning of the 20th century with his experimental works.

Satie was known for his unconventionality and originality. His works were majorly for solo piano.

He preferred to be called a ‘phonometrician.’ Some of his most significant contributions are Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes.

Are you wondering about different types of piano music?

Go through 5 Most Popular Types of Piano Music and find your answer.

12. Joe Hisaishi (1950-present)

Joe Hisaishi

Mamoru Fujisawa, professionally known as Joe Hisaishi, is a contemporary pianist, conductor, musical director, and composer.

He has 100 film scores and many solo albums to his name. He is known for his experiments with different genres. He is still actively performing in concerts.

On February 21, 2020, Hisaishi had a release namely the album Dream Songs: The Essential Joe Hisaishi, featuring 28 compositions from his career.

Did you know Joe Hisaishi wrote the soundtrack for the animated movie “Howl’s Moving Castle”?

13. Alexandra Streliski (1985-present day)

Alexandra Streliski

Alexandra Streliski is a neoclassical composer based in Canada.

She made the headline in 2010 with her debut album, Pianoscope. She topped the list of the classical album on Apple Music in 2018 with her second release, Inscape.

In 2019 she received two Felix awards. Time has yet to witness her phenomena

More Resources

10 Best Female Pianist of All Time Top 11 Beatles Songs
11 Most Beautiful Pieces of All Time 11 Easy Piano Songs for Kids and Beginners


Who are all-time favorite composers of piano music?

All-time favorite composers of piano music are Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827), Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), Franz Liszt (1811-1886).

Who are solo piano composers?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Franz Schubert are solo piano composers. Nonetheless, they were not limited to solo piano only. They had other contributions as well

Who is the best contemporary piano composer?

Many modern composers are keeping classical music alive. John Adams tops the list. Other contemporary composers are Steve Reich, Unsuk Chin, and James Dillon, who are equally talented and recognized

What is an example of a piano piece by a famous composer

There are many mind-blowing pieces by great composers of all time. My best pick among them is Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig Van Beethoven. You can tune in to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue too.

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“So long as the human spirit thrives on this planet, music in some living form will accompany and sustain it.” justifiably said, Aaron Copland.

Music is the elixir of human life, and composers brew such music. From the classical era to the modern time, many pieces, such as J.S Bach’s The Goldberg Variations are still circulated in significant numbers.

The polished and well-developed music today has been nowhere were it not for the famous piano composers of all time.

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