15 Famous Italian Piano Players you Should Know

Music historians regard Italian piano players to be some of the most influential musicians in the world. Throughout history, Italian piano players have stood out for their musical innovation and pioneering. 

In this article, we’ll go over some of the most prominent and influential Italian pianists of all time. We’ll touch on their lives and work and explain why these individuals had such an impact on the world of music. 

1. Ludovico Einaudi (1955-)

Ludovico Einaudi is regarded as one of the most important Italian pianists and composers of recent times.

He gained recognition early in his career for his classical compositions. Later, he dove into other genres and styles such as pop, rock, folk, and world music with his work being featured in multiple award-winning films and trailers.

Einaudi’s impact on mainstream pop culture is undeniable, and it’s why he is so inspirational to many people across the globe. 

He continues to work and tour worldwide, showing off his amazing talents that are still changing the Italian music scene to this day. 

2. Muzio Clementi (1752-1832)

Clementi was an Italian-born English pianist and composer.

He was most famous for his series of piano sonatas. The impact of his sonatas is so great that he was nicknamed “Father of the Piano.”

He famously engaged in a piano duel with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the two were commonly considered rival pianists throughout their careers. 

Clementi’s legato-style music influenced some of the greatest pianists of all time, such as Ludwig Van Beethoven and Frédéric Chopin, among many others. 

3. Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995)

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli began his formal study of music at the Milan Conservatory when he was only ten years old.

His passion for music never wavered, even when he studied medicine to appease his family’s wishes. Through his passionate ambition, he went on to be one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century.

Michelangeli was eccentric and often canceled performances if things were not exactly to his standards and specifications. His absolute inability to settle for anything less than perfection is considered one of the reasons he achieved such musical greatness.

4. Beatrice Rana (1993-)

Beatrice Rana, born in 1993, is the youngest Italian pianist on our list.

Rana made waves by making her first orchestral debut at age 9, performing Bach’s Piano Concerto in F Minor. She later won first prize at the 2011 Montreal International Piano Competition.

This solidified her position in modern culture as one of the most prominent and exciting Italian pianists of our time.

She tours the world, allowing fans from all over to experience this modern legend.

5. Maurizio Pollini (1942-)

Maurizio Pollini is well-known for his musical sophistication and integrity. Early in his career, he was inspired by left-wing politics and used his music as statement pieces in the Italian political climate. 

He is most famous for his performances of compositions by Beethoven, Chopin, and Debussy. In these performances, Pollini is celebrated for his ability to accurately express the composer.

He has received many awards throughout his career, but one of the most noteworthy being the Grammy Award in 2007 for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance.

6. Romano Mussolini (1927-2006)

Romano Mussolini, the youngest child of notorious dictator Benito Mussolini, achieved musical fame outside of his father’s shadow.

Early in his career, he often played under an alias to avoid any association with his surname. He denounced his father’s anti-Semitic policies but did speak fondly of him as a father in his memoir.

Mussolini was an Italian jazz pianist but also had success as a filmmaker and painter. His melancholic playing style gained him widespread success in the world of pianists.

7. Maria Tipo (1931-)

Maria Tipo gained fame and recognition at the young age of 17 when she won the Geneva International Piano Competition.

She played an impressive 300+ shows in North America in the late 1950s.

All praised her hard work and precision, but her reputation among other pianists was unmatched.

She is also a committed teacher who has taken on many students and given some significant master classes.

8. Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924)

Ferruccio Busoni was a pop culture icon of his time. He influenced and worked closely with many musicians, artists, and creatives of his time.

His skills as a pianist and composer paired with his intelligence catapulted him into fame.

He was renowned as a child prodigy and further proved his talents as an adult. His complex piano works shocked and amazed the world.

9. Gilda Buttà (1959-)

Gilda Buttà of Sicily, Italy, graduated from the Conservatorio Musica Verdi Milano with the highest honors at only 16 years old.

She has success both as a soloist and in chamber ensembles working on many film soundtracks, and her music has had a clear influence on music in films.

Buttà also worked as a teacher, influencing the next generate of Italian youth. 

10. Alfredo Casella (1883-1947)

Alfredo Casella

Alfredo Casella had an undeniable influence on 20th-century Italian music. He was passionate about the study and revival of classic Italian music.

After his studies, Casella returned to Italy and founded the Italian Society of Modern Music.

The group played an integral part in the revival of interest in Italian music.

11. Renato Carosone (1920-2001)

Renato Carosone was a popular Italian pianist of the later part of the 20th century.

He was from Naples and played traditional Naples music called canzone Napoletana. He was one of the first post-war Italian musicians to succeed in the US where he was able to tour and sell records.

In 1958, his song “Totero” hit the charts in the United States, becoming hugely popular with his other song Tu Vuò Fa’ L’Americano being another popular hit even to this day.

He retired soon after his peak in 1960 to relax and pursue painting.

12. Enrico Pieranunzi (1949-)

Enrico Pieranunzi has a unique style where he combines classical elements with jazz.

He has recorded a staggering 60+ albums throughout his musical career.

At the beginning of his career, he worked as a music teacher before recording his music.

In addition to his impressive recordings and teaching, Pieranunzi also composed scores for films.

13. Paolo Conte (1937-)

Paolo Conte was an Italian pianist who successfully became a lawyer before achieving notoriety as a musician.

Conte’s songs have been used in both films and television. 

His most noteworthy award came in 1999 when President Giorgio Napolitano gave him the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic for his musical achievements.

14. Elio de Angelis (1958-1986)

One of the most interesting people on this list is ​​Elio de Angelis. He was not only a successful pianist, but he was also a professional Formula One race car driver.

There are stories of him playing the piano for his fellow Formula One drivers in their hotels. 

Unfortunately, his musical and racing career was cut short in a tragic crash that led to his death in 1986.

15. Alessio Bax (1977-)

Alessio Bax had an impressive start to his career, graduating from the Bari Conservatory at the astounding age of 14 years old.

He won first prize at both Hamamatsu International Piano Competition and the Leeds Competition.

These wins launched him to worldwide success.

He is renowned for his achievements as a recitalist, chamber musician, and soloist. 

After his studies in Italy, he continued to study across Europe and then moved to the United States.

Bax is a Steinway Artist, who lives in New York, and is a faculty member of Boston’s New England Conservatory.

Photo of author
Written by Samantha Chan