The A-Z of the piano

We celebrate the world's most popular instrument with a look at 26 of its greatest features

K is for Kalkbrenner and other forgotten pianist-composers

Friedrich Kalkbrenner (1785-1849) represents the myriad forgotten composers of piano music. A vast amount of the piano’s literature, particularly from the 19th century, remains ignored or rarely played. A man of colossal vanity who married into money, Kalkbrenner titillated the salons of Paris and London with his superficial but highly effective works. Try his entertaining Grande sonate brillante, Op. 177. Here are three more forgotten pianist-composers we recommend you look out for.


Sigismund Thalberg (1812-71)

As a pianist, Thalberg was once considered to be Liszt’s equal. In this, his bicentennial year, we may get to hear more of his once immensely popular operatic fantasies. Try the one on themes from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale played by Marc-André Hamelin.

Joachim Raff (1822-82)

Swiss-born and self-taught, Raff became Liszt’s secretary and amanuensis. A skilful contrapuntalist, orchestrator and warm-hearted melodist, his music deserves to be better known. Try his Piano Concerto in C minor, Op. 185

Sergei Lyapunov (1859-1924)

A follower of the Russian national school, much influenced by Balakirev, Lyapunov’s virtuoso Etudes d’exécution transcendante, Op. 11 were clearly suggested by Liszt’s set of the same title.