Great Pianists of the 20th Century

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Great Pianists of the 20th Century – Complete Edition
Great Pianists of the 20th Century - Complete Edition - Cover Art - Brendel site.jpg
Box set by
Various artists
ReleasedJuly 20, 1999
Length200 CDs
ProducerTom Deacon

Great Pianists of the 20th Century was a 200-CD box set released by Philips Records in 1999 and sponsored by Steinway & Sons.

The box set comprises 100 volumes featuring 72[1] pianists of the 20th century, each volume with two CDs and a booklet about the life and work of the featured pianist. The set contains a variety of composers from different eras, from Baroque to Contemporary classical. The material was the result of a collaborative association between Philips (who had access to the Polygram Records back catalogue) and a number of other labels, notably EMI Classics, as no single label possessed a representative set of recordings for every pianist considered to be significant. Material from Warner Classics and Sony Classics was also used.

The majority of the pianists feature on one set only, with sixteen appearing on a second set (set number 8, dedicated to Wilhelm Backhaus, is titled "Wilhelm Backhaus I", which suggests that a second set was planned at some point but never published, and the set dedicated to Daniel Barenboim is correctly numbered as number 9). Seven artists (Arrau, Brendel, Gilels, Horowitz, Kempff, Richter and Rubinstein) are featured across three sets. The nature and size of the project meant that popular works (such as Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto and Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and other solo pieces) appear several times.

Perceptive pianophiles have pointed out various errors in the set, including misattributed recordings and use of unauthorized takes. For example, the Paderewski volume contains a performance of Liszt’s "La Leggierezza" which was actually recorded by Benno Moiseiwitsch – also included in the latter’s volume. Further, the liner notes claim the cadenza of the piece was by Moiseiwitsch, while it was actually by Theodor Leschetizky.[2] The first of two Cortot volumes was withdrawn when it was discovered that a previously rejected performance of Schumann’s Kreisleriana was issued by mistake. The volume was reissued with the correct take.[3] The series has also been criticized for the lack of remastering of historic recordings, notably in the Hofmann reissue which degraded the transfers originally issued by Ward Marston.[4]

The German edition of the set (and possibly others) includes a bonus CD with Clara Haskil (Sonderausgabe zur Edition) —raising to 5 the total number of CDs with her. This bonus CD contains her interpretation of some of Scarlatti's piano sonatas from her 1947 Westminster LP, and is the first printing on CD of these recordings, according to the CD cover (Erstveröffentlichung auf CD).[5]

List of volumes[edit]

Each volume contains two CDs.[6]

  1. Géza Anda
  2. Martha Argerich
  3. Martha Argerich II
  4. Claudio Arrau
  5. Claudio Arrau II
  6. Claudio Arrau III
  7. Vladimir Ashkenazy
  8. Wilhelm Backhaus
  9. Daniel Barenboim
  10. Jorge Bolet
  11. Jorge Bolet II
  12. Alfred Brendel
  13. Alfred Brendel II
  14. Alfred Brendel III
  15. Lyubov Bruk & Mark Taimanov
  16. Robert Casadesus
  17. Shura Cherkassky
  18. Shura Cherkassky II
  19. Van Cliburn
  20. Alfred Cortot
  21. Alfred Cortot II
  22. Clifford Curzon
  23. Gyorgy Cziffra
  24. Christoph Eschenbach
  25. Edwin Fischer
  26. Edwin Fischer II
  27. Leon Fleisher
  28. Samson Francois
  29. Nelson Freire
  30. Ignaz Friedman
  31. Andrei Gavrilov
  32. Walter Gieseking
  33. Walter Gieseking II
  34. Emil Gilels
  35. Emil Gilels II
  36. Emil Gilels III
  37. Grigory Ginsburg
  38. Leopold Godowsky
  39. Glenn Gould
  40. Friedrich Gulda
  41. Friedrich Gulda II
  42. Ingrid Haebler
  43. Clara Haskil
  44. Clara Haskil II
  45. Myra Hess
  46. Josef Hofmann
  47. Vladimir Horowitz
  48. Vladimir Horowitz II
  49. Vladimir Horowitz III
  50. Byron Janis
  51. Byron Janis II
  52. William Kapell
  53. Julius Katchen
  54. Julius Katchen II
  55. Wilhelm Kempff
  56. Wilhelm Kempff II
  57. Wilhelm Kempff III
  58. Evgeny Kissin
  59. Zoltán Kocsis
  60. Stephen Kovacevich
  61. Stephen Kovacevich II
  62. Alicia de Larrocha
  63. Alicia de Larrocha II
  64. Josef & Rosina Lhévinne
  65. Dinu Lipatti
  66. Radu Lupu
  67. Nikita Magaloff
  68. Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli
  69. Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli II
  70. Benno Moiseiwitsch
  71. Ivan Moravec
  72. John Ogdon
  73. John Ogdon II
  74. Ignacy Jan Paderewski
  75. Murray Perahia
  76. Maria João Pires
  77. Mikhail Pletnev
  78. Maurizio Pollini
  79. Maurizio Pollini II
  80. André Previn
  81. Sergei Rachmaninoff
  82. Sviatoslav Richter
  83. Sviatoslav Richter II
  84. Sviatoslav Richter III
  85. Arthur Rubinstein
  86. Arthur Rubinstein II
  87. Arthur Rubinstein III
  88. András Schiff
  89. Artur Schnabel
  90. Rudolf Serkin
  91. Vladimir Sofronitsky
  92. Solomon
  93. Rosalyn Tureck
  94. Rosalyn Tureck II
  95. Mitsuko Uchida
  96. André Watts
  97. Alexis Weissenberg
  98. Earl Wild
  99. Maria Yudina
  100. Krystian Zimerman



  1. ^ Guttman 1999, 2005.
  2. ^ Manildi & Malik 2012. See entry for Paderewski.
  3. ^ Manildi & Malik 2012. See entry for Cortot.
  4. ^ Manildi & Malik 2012. See entry for Hofmann.
  5. ^ Clara Haskil bonus CD. OCLC 46597756.
  6. ^ Detailed track listings for Box 1 and Box 2 are available at Accessed 22 November 2009.

General sources[edit]