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The Art Of Piano: Great Pianists Of The 20th Century

This video documentary provides a survey of 18 extraordinary keyboard artists that dominated the concert world in the mid 20th century, from Ignaz Paderewski to Claudio Arrau. Sir John Tusa narrates this comprehensive overview of some of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. The program effectively blends archival film with video clips, concert footage and rare artist interviews. Featured performers are Vladimir Horowitz, Artur Rubinstein, Sviatoslav Richter, Sergei Rachmaninov, Glenn Gould, Edwin Fischer, Claudio Arrau, Georges Cziffra, Wilhelm Backhaus, Alfred Cortot, Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Francis Plante performing live and on film. The theme of the video is tied together through interviews and commentary by conductors including Sir Colin Davis and Daniel Barenboim.

Pieces appearing in the movie:

10:01 – Rachmaninoff: Prelude Opus 2 no. 3, C-sharp minor
16:17 - Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2, 3rd Movement
22:41 – Chopin: Etude Op.25 No.10 (Octave Etude)
23:34 – Scriabin: Etude Op.8 No.12
24:52 – Scriabin: Etude Op.8 No.12
28:39 – Bizet/Horowitz: Carmen Variations
33:07 – Liszt: Grand Galop Chromatique
35:17 – Liszt: Grand Galop Chromatique
39:37 – Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23 Op. 57, 1st movement
42:27 – Chopin: Polonaise Op. 53 A-Flat Major “Heroique”
52:07 – Chopin: Etude Op. 10 No.7
52:47 – Chopin: Valse de L’adieu, or Op. 69 No. 1
1:09:10 – Beethoven: Concerto No.4, 2nd Movement
1:11:42 – Rachmaninoff: Prelude Op.23 No.5 G Minor
1:18:21 – Chopin: Etude Op.10 No.12 (Revolutionary)
1:22:14 – Scarlatti: Sonata Op. 449 (K. 27)


  1. Fnor Says:

    Quite long to see the whole video right now, but thanks for it !

  2. Erik L. Says:

    What a great list. These pianists have really shaped music as we know it.

  3. Gabriela Says:

    Superb movie! i am very happy and i want to thank you for this inspiring film! it was a great time in a great company.
    Thank you!

  4. Dave Kyle Says:

    Horowitz playing his Carmen Variations is simply astounding. Never seen anything like it – technique unparalleled, and the filming is brilliant! Thanks so much!!

  5. Denise Knox Says:

    How do I view “The Art of Piano” ? When I click the upper left icon of the blank page, nothing opens up. Do I need an upgrade?

  6. Dan Norris Says:

    Superb. Thanks

  7. Daniel Kim Says:

    yes it’s quite long to watch with concentration.
    but thanks pianostreet.com
    it wasn’t boring to listen the video while keeping webpage minimized.

  8. pipe Says:

    When I saw this dvd years ago, I fell in love with the piano

  9. Barbara Says:

    Thanks, very interesting.

  10. Gavin Says:

    Fascinating, and Arrau’s Beethoven op111 was a revelation….. great to have Rubinstein and Cziffra on film.

    I miss Kempff, Lipatti, Schnabel…….are they really any less important than Gilels/Cortot/Michelangeli/Gould?

    There’s always that debate about the truth-tellers and the virtuosi; that’s what makes the piano such a wonderful thing!

  11. Ashley Huyen Van Says:

    Thank you, it’s a great video! I really learn a lot! :)

  12. Paul Felix Says:

    Great! Outstanding! Marvelous!
    Thank you for such a gift.

  13. tidarat Says:

    Great and very interesting!!! Any video recording for sales on this. I want to buy it.

  14. Johan Everaert Says:

    Thanks for that wunderful documenary. Those that I bore in my heart I have seen now ‘real’: Paderewski, Horrowitz… and of course all the others. Unforgettable.

  15. Braden Says:

    Interesting movie. Far too long for it’s own good, and with an air of snobbery that detracts from the beautiful music presented therein, this film is still fascinating to watch. I wish that the producers would have taken a little extra time to polish the film. Would it be too hard to let us know what pieces we are listening to, or who is talking to us? It seems that on occasion, we are tossed a bone, but through much of the film, we are left in the dark as to what is being presented on the screen. This is taken to the extreme in the scene about thirty minutes in where Chiffre is smoking and talking in French. He talks for maybe thirty seconds without a word of translation anywhere to be found. I happen to speak French, so this was not a problem for me, but it still leaves me scratching my head, wondering why a particularly banal bit of conversation was included in the first place, and why, if it was felt so necessary to include it, it was not deemed necessary to translate it. And so it goes throughout the film.

    This review may sound negative, and there certainly are some glaring deficiencies, but in the final analysis, I actually do not regret my time spent watching the film and enjoying some truly wonderful piano playing.

  16. Andre Says:

    No words! The way they played and their thoughts how music must be approached says it all. Great documentary, thank you.

  17. Herry Rajasa Says:

    ..Great Documentary..!! Thank you..

  18. Branca Paxiuta Says:

    Thank You so much!

  19. Peter F. Says:

    Unfortunately, this video is not possible in Germany to be seen…

  20. helen scott Says:

    I think all these pianists should be shown on SBS Television as a Masterpiece Series over a few months. Their pianism and technique is amazing, and I would like to see them on a monthly basis. One pianist weekly such as Richter, Horowitz, Rubinstein, Glenn Gould, Myra Hess, Claudio Arrau, and others presented in this program. It could be announced by Daniel Barenboim, Tamas Vasary, or even Lang Lang, even though he is a 21st Century pianist. This video was astonishing, and makes me want to play my digital piano, even though my arms are not too good. Please consider Australian pianists as well. For example, Anna Goldsworthy, Caroline Almonte, or Stephen McIntyre. There are others, but would have to do some research. Wonderful video. Thanks, Helen Scott, Mitcham, Victoria. Australia. on Sun. 14/11/2010. 9.30 pm. AEDST.

  21. Jane Dolan Says:

    Fantastic. I wish I was brilliant. Makes me want to practice more!

  22. Lars Says:

    If the video is blocked in your country, you can use a little trick to watch it on youtube anyway:
    in the YouTube URL
    exchange the watch?v=vpiMAaPTze8&… part with v/vpiMAaPTze8 like this:


  23. Carole Says:

    What a wonderful gift to the Piano Street members! Thank you so much for sharing this awe-inspiring film with us!

  24. Dr. Geneviève Huang Says:

    Fabulous! Thank you:)

    What great fortune to have seen this. It’s a veritable treasure!

  25. Ingen Wagenaar Says:

    Great documentary. But I like to know which piece I am listening to and I miss translations and subtitles.

  26. Darryl Says:

    Wonderful!! Thank you so much for sharing this excellent video.

  27. george Says:

    very grateful ,the documentary kept me from bedtime !!!!

  28. Sarah A Says:

    Fabulous! How incredibly inspiring and wonderful to see the greats playing in one film! Thank you.

  29. Teodoro Cromberg Says:

    Remarkable! I am very grateful for this friendly documentary, Piano Street. Piano music is an incredible art!! Again, THANKS!!!

  30. Frances duncan Says:

    Fantastic–feels like a “meeting” with these great artists & composers and documentary. Music is superb. Thanks!

  31. Gabriel Schvartzman. Says:

    This is a wonderful film. But it would be better if you can add subtittles in Spanish. Whatever, Thanks for the film.

  32. roya Says:



  33. Roberto Abelar Says:

    Exellent Work of investigation and the music as well! Iam expecting for a second part!! thanks so much!!!

  34. jgpehdezv Says:

    Muchas gracias por compartir este largo documental sobre el Piano y los grandes pianistas. Me gustaría saber cuales fueron los criterios de inclusión de los pianistas que aparecen en el video, porque para mi gusto, faltaron varios que han influido decididamente en lo referente a la interpretación pianistica como Kempff, o Van Cliburn, o Zerkin, entre otros. Creo que falta una linea temática que le de sentido al documental como tal. Por ejemplo, cual es el propósito de que aparezca Myra Hess? Hubiera preferido a Martha Argerich, por ejemplo. Creo que el documental constituye un trabajo de mucha calidad y no podemos dejar de verlo, pero mejoraría muchísimo si se cuidara la traducción, la identidad de todos los personajes que aparecen como narradores, y de las obras que cada pianista interpreta. Muchas gracias por compartirlo.

  35. Mido Marzouk Says:

    best regards for such a great film for those great pianists ..very nice and go on with another group of great pianists…thanks so much I really enjoy it every now and then….just wonderful

  36. Joost Brands (Netherlands) Says:

    It was a great pleasure to see all that genius and brilliant musicians together. For someone who adores piano music, this film is never too long :-)
    I must be critical as a documentary watcher because of the lack of some additional information and subtitles (not every watcher understands f.e. French, like mentioned by others in this forum). I hope the producer(s) of this beautiful movie will make a “revised” version someday.

  37. Jan Elshult ( the swede ) Says:

    Interesting, seen some parts B4 on Utube.

  38. Concerto_love Says:

    It’s wonderful!! Inspiring for a piano students!!

  39. Charles Potter Says:

    Very enjoyable. I appreciate finding something like this online.

  40. Carlos Cordeiro Says:

    No time to see it all, but thanks just for the thought: this is a rarity to be kept.

  41. Miguel Enríquez Says:

    Que hermoso. muy inspirador para los que nos gusta la música. para mi es un regalo esto en la web. Gracias.

  42. Satyavati Says:

    How wonderful to know that there is an online version of this amazing documentary! I own a dvd of this TREASURE!

  43. Cathy :: AllPiano Says:

    So happy I found this documentary posted here. I can watch it over and over.

  44. Wayne McEvilly Says:

    I am very pleased to have received a link to your blog via a Twitter friend. Your having made available an online presentation of this material allows pianists and music lovers all around “the grid” to communicate about the details of how these great pianists did their thing -
    Of special interest to me is the moment (c. 2 minutes in) when Myra Hess enters with a cosmic infusion of ENERGY- She establishes herself in those few moments in he minds of anyone watching as towering above any other pianist of the 20th century.
    Thank you very much.
    & p.s. – Are you on Twitter? I would love to follow your tweets.

  45. Aurelys Rebeca Says:

    Excelent documentary! Is a great oportunity to see the history of piano trough all this great pianists… Does anyone know if there is a tranlated version to spanish of the documentary? Thanks for the share!

    Alguien sabe de una version doblada o subtitulada al español?

    Gracias por la oportunidad de compartir este documental tan interesante y maravilloso…

  46. Lena Says:

    Exellent, educational, pure pleasure to watch and listen the best pianists in the world. Thanks a lot.

  47. Zuriel Eduardo Says:

    Exelente produccion
    gracias por compartirlo

  48. Luca Says:

    Could somebody please write a list including all the pieces that are played during the video? I’m especially interested in the one right at the beginning of the vid before the title comes out and the one played by Paderewski, but a whole list would really be appreciated!
    Thank you very much, great video!!

  49. Tika Says:

    No words!!! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  50. Innesa Says:

    Fantastic! Very educational. thank you.

  51. vdM Says:

    I’m waiting for an hour and 46 minutes to spare! can’t wait :D

  52. Antonio Tadeu Camacho Says:

    Congratulations.Only Piano Street could offer piano musics of great
    quality.I liked very much of all musics.I’m a pianist and sometimes,when
    I’ve opportunity,I play F. Chopin’s Waltz Op. 69/1,and other piano pieces also,in my home.Thank you for the attention.


    Antonio Tadeu Camacho
    Industrial Designer/Pianist


  53. Don Cass Says:

    Wonderful! But I must admit I missed the divine Martha.

  54. Minja Kolak Says:

    Used to wach it on VHS, so precious and inspiring!!! Thank you so much

  55. David Says:

    Wonderful, and thank you for publishing! Of course one could argue endlessly about who was included and who was left out but I’m amazed that video footage of some of these pianists exists at all! Yes, I fully agree with many commenters that there should have been translations/captions of the foreign languages, and subtitles of the pieces being played and identification of who was speaking (strange how they identify a few but not all). Still, much of this is priceless legacy and inspiring.

  56. David Says:

    To Luca, who asked about particular pieces.
    The very opening piece is #1 of Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes.
    Paderewski plays the Rachmaninoff Prelude in C# minor.

  57. Luca Says:

    Thank you very much for your answer David!! You’ve been really kind =)

  58. Pavel Ryzlovsky Says:

    I bought this video few years ago, and I regret that its sound was permanently asynchronised with the picture.
    As so many before me said here, this video would have been much more useful if the authors didn’t assume that everyone just knew the pieces performed. And if the subtitles were provided for the spoken words, enabling translation into the language of the viewer’s choice.
    Was it too much for the producers to anticipate (and for us to wish for)?

  59. erika neher Says:

    Long, yes, but great. The first time I saw Hoffman perform. Didn’t Columbia say they would like to have 3 chairs, Pederosky, Hoffman and Gould? Great that I finally got to see these geniuses. Would like to add this movie to my collection Is it possible to purchase this on DVD?

  60. charles panati Says:

    So much talent, so much genius, this must be what Heaven is like. With Horowitz as God.

  61. Chris Says:

    Hm, I cant watch the video. Not even with the method that was posted in one of the comments above. Living in Germany btw, it seems to be blocked by Sony.

  62. lordjairo Says:


  63. iolanda spulber Says:

    where is dinu lipatti?
    your list is without core.
    I was disapointed.

  64. feelthenotes Says:

    yes, the method that was posted above does not work to watch the video if it’s blocked. :-(
    i live in germany aswell. any suggestions pls?

  65. Culberto Says:

    This is an amazing and superb presentation. I really enjoy watching and hearing such a video. Congratulations and thanks

  66. David April Says:

    This film is very illuminating and inspiring. It was very absorbing and I enjoyed every moment of it.

  67. Vito Di Gregorio Says:

    I enjoyed a lot. Thank you very much!

  68. pannie Says:

    Wishing everybody a healthy and happy New Year and thank you Piano Street for the incredible information and interesting facts you give us all through the year. Happy New Year to all subscribers too. Thank you so much

  69. Amelia Says:

    I would like to know the piece at the end played by Claudio Arrau. It sounds like Beethoven, but that’s all I can tell about it.

  70. nilsjohan Says:

    Amelia, the piece at the end is Beethoven’s Sonata No. 32, Opus 111 in C minor

  71. Vivian Says:

    Thanks for this great movie. I especially like the very end of it because I know at least someone had shared my dream: to be able to play the piano until old age :)

  72. Muhannad Faza Says:

    Such film a grate atcheavment, and it is a grate heritage for any pianist in particular and all intellectuals as well.
    Thx a lot
    Muhannad – Pianist & Film Translator

  73. Karin Brandt Koch Says:

    I can watch this again and again. Fantastic.
    Thank you, from Karin in Vancouver BC

  74. Gary Giardina Says:

    Can anyone tell me who the woman is playing Chopin’s “Minute” waltz at the very end. It seems very strange that there is no mention of her that I can find.

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