GREAT CLASSICAL PIANIST COMPOSERS
of MUSIC for the PIANO
The story of the great classical composers of piano music actually begins before the invention of the piano itself. We will start ours with Johann Sebastian Bach.
Prior to Bach and his contemporaries, music for keyboard instruments (harpsichord, clavichord and organ) often does not work very well when played on the modern piano. It was written for the specific characteristics and capabilities of those instruments. Played on the piano, keyboard music of the pre-Bach era generally frequently just sounds wrong. The richness of the organ or harpsichord that is essential to the music is gone, and the much more expressive and dynamic nature of the piano are, of course, not exploited in the music. The result is music that seems at the same time finicky and devoid of emotional content.
Bach's music for keyboard, while indeed written to be performed on the keyboard instruments of his day, does not rely on the qualities of those instruments as the basis of its artistic genesis. Bach was a genius of the highest order and his keyboard music seems to have been created outside the limiting context of contemporary instruments. Certainly he did not compose pieces that could not be played on those instruments, but the music appears to evolve in a pure musical ether rather than as a slave to the performance conventions of the time. The result is that when performed on a modern piano capable of a range of expression unimagined at the time, Bach's keyboard music finds a vehicle appropriate to its richness and can be considered to be true piano music.
Though Bach did hear and play on the very early pianos built by those following in the footsteps of Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1732) (who is given credit for inventing the piano), he was initially not particularly enthusiastic. After some of his criticisms were subsequently addressed by the piano makers, he did in fact become an advocate for the further development of the piano. He must have sensed that the ultimate communicative capabilities of such an instrument went far beyond anything that had come before.
But it was Bach's son Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach, who must be given credit for being the first of the true great classical composers of music written specifically for the Piano and for developing a keyboard technique suited to the capabilities of the new instrument.
What's YOUR definition of classical music?
To me, classical music means Mozart, Hayden, Beethoven. However, you can listen to more contemporary pieces written by Philipp Glass, John Adams and even Paul McCartney...
If your definition of classical music is the kind of music which is played by a full orchestra, directed by a conductor, and sounding "nice", you might want to check out the local library. Get some CD's of the more popular Mozart symphonies. Listen to some of his piano concertos. Get some Hayden-symphonies or the "Four seasons" by Vivaldi, and even listen to the "Best of Bach"...
If you're into human voices, check out operas like "Marriage of Figaro", or "Magic Flute" (Mozart), or some of the more popular Rosssini operas