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The adored interpreter: Franz Liszt in a caricature from 1842

A pianist (via " piano ", "piano", from Italian pianoforte ) or piano player is a musician who plays the piano .


The profession of concert pianist usually requires starting piano lessons in a music school or with a piano teacher as early as a child in order to learn playing technique and artistic design possibilities of the instrument. An acoustic instrument such as a pianino or concert grand piano is essential, lessons on a keyboard are not enough, as there is no weighted keyboard, the full range of 88 keys and the three pedals. As a rule, the training also includes music theory and music history .

With the appropriate talent and advanced skills, the budding pianist then completes a major at a music college or a conservatory . The focus of this university education is now less the technical than the artistic areas. After the artistic maturity examination , a concert exam follows ; master classes can follow for improvement . Some pianists already set a professional focus of their later career during their training.


The professional field mainly includes the repertoire of serious music - i.e. H. from baroque ( Bach ), through classical ( Mozart , Beethoven ), romantic ( Chopin , Schumann ) to new music ( Henze , Stockhausen ).

Concert music

Keyboard instruments have played an important role in musical education for centuries. They are well suited for preparatory compositional work, because chords and generally harmonic progressions are much easier to play here than on string or wind instruments . Johann Sebastian Bach , Georg Friedrich Händel and Domenico Scarlatti performed as celebrated virtuosos on the harpsichord and on the organ as early as the Baroque period . Numerous later composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven , Franz Liszt , Frédéric Chopin and Sergei Rachmaninoff were also virtuoso concert pianists. Some of them, e.g. B. Sergei Prokofjew , wrote a large part of their works for their own concert use; others like Alfredo Casella or Béla Bartók were less known as composers and more as piano professors during their lifetime. Thanks to their pianistic skills, they have added numerous brilliant solo works to the piano literature.

Solo performance includes works for a single piano or for two or more pianos (and ancillary genres such as four-handed playing) and solo concerts for these instruments and orchestra.

Due to the large scope of the repertoire , some pianists decide to focus their work on the works of a few composers or a single musical epoch. B. Alfred Brendel mainly focused on the Viennese Classic , Arthur Rubinstein mainly played Chopin and Glenn Gould was very interested in Bach . Some pianists such as Alfons and Aloys Kontarsky performed mainly as a duo and concentrate on works for two pianos.

Chamber music and song

A second area is chamber music , which envisages a piano as an accompaniment to another instrument and in formations as a trio , quartet or quintet . The piano trio in particular demands a player who has perfect pianistic skills.

In some works such as B. Ludwig van Beethoven's Triple Concerto op. 56 or Alban Berg's Chamber Concerto for piano, violin and 13 wind instruments overlap the demands on the pianist, he must be able to play both solo and concertante as well as chamber music.

A prominent part of chamber music is song accompaniment . It requires psychological empathy in order to play piano songs in the aftermath of the Romantic eraFranz Schubert , Robert Schumann , Johannes Brahms , Hugo Wolf , Richard Strauss and others. a. - to interpret the singing voice appropriately. Some pianists like Glenn Gould only played sporadically in this area, some like Hartmut Höll , Michael Raucheisen or Gerald Moore limited their work almost or entirely to the composition of songs. Here, too, a permanent working partnership with a singer is the rule.

Chamber music and especially song accompaniment require special training, which is offered as a major at some music colleges.

Career prospects for pianists

The career prospects for pianists have noticeably deteriorated in recent years. Those who do not climb into the manageable, absolute top group of soloists are more and more forced to perform for small and small fees and / or have to try to make ends meet as a piano teacher. However, the profession of piano teacher has noticeably lost its attractiveness. The private music schools, which hardly issue permanent employment contracts anymore, but only employ freelance workers, also make a significant contribution to this. Member schools of the VdM, the Association of German Music Schools, are required to employ teachers only on a permanent basis, but the likelihood of a job is low due to the enormous oversupply. The same applies to music colleges and conservatories. Since the majority of all music students have to complete piano (in addition to the piano major) as a compulsory or minor subject, there is a relatively high need for teachers, but these places are also competitive. In addition, there are also few permanent positions / lecturers at music colleges, but also mostly freelance workers - the so-called "lecturers". Many professionals can therefore only stay afloat with secondary jobs. The highly sought-after positions for professorships are few and far between at most universities and generally extremely difficult to get hold of.

This means that piano teachers are part of the so-called “new artist precariat”, which, according to the artist's social security fund, reports an average gross monthly salary of EUR 1,000. Old-age poverty is mapped out here. As a result, while almost all piano classes at conservatoires recorded a sharp decline in German applicants, the influx of students from Asian countries, primarily from China, but also from Japan and South Korea, continues unabated. Eastern Europeans (especially from Russia or Hungary) also make up a larger proportion of the students who major in piano. Foreign piano students are also often not only more disciplined (and therefore more powerful), but also very young, and therefore more fully booked, because pianists often lose their attractiveness with increasing age. Not least because the younger semesters in particular are more likely to be encouraged and motivated (see Jugend musiziert , scholarship programs and other competitions, which are often aimed at under twenty-year-olds - this also includes concerts organized by conservatories and music colleges).

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Pianist  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Training as a pianist , accessed on November 15, 2018