What Makes a Great Pianist?

by Jazer Lee

What Makes a Great Pianist?

This is a very good question and would mean a lot for those who love the piano and who want to improve their playing. But first let us talk about the difference between a good piano player and a great pianist.

A good piano player can sit down and play a piece from memory with technical proficiency, musicality and expressiveness. A truly great pianist goes above and beyond the “normal” musicality and physical skill.

To elaborate on this, these are the traits and qualities a great pianist would possess:

  • Technical proficiency: A great pianist must have ease of technique, however transcendent, and this is not felt something distinct from the music. There should be exceptional technical skills, including finger dexterity, speed, accuracy, and control over dynamics and articulation.
  • Musicality: One must be able to convey the emotion and meaning of the music through their playing, bringing out the nuances of the piece and expressing their own interpretation.
  • Interpretation: He or she should have a deep understanding of the composer’s intentions and the historical context of the piece. There should be a musical intelligence that holds the work together, and communicates it as a single unified statement.
  • Creativity: A great pianist should be able to bring their own creative ideas and approaches to the music, exploring new ways of interpreting and performing the piece. Every detail is given its rightful place; but take note there is also meaningful variety of detail.
  • Stage presence: A virtuoso should have a strong stage presence, engaging with the audience and creating a captivating performance. This is a rare quality, the ability to speak, intimately, to individual members of the audience, no matter how big the hall, no matter how many are present.
  • Discipline and dedication: A great pianist must be disciplined and dedicated to their craft, practicing consistently and striving for excellence in their playing.


In a nutshell, a great pianist requires a lot of dedication, hard work, practice and discipline in his/her craft.

So I ask of you, who do you think is a great pianist in this generation? Personally, I would bat for Ludovico Einudi.

You may also like

Leave a Comment