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I am amused by the story of Beethoven dueling another composer in Vienna, in which he takes the other composer's music, puts it upside down, and proceeds to humiliate him. I feel as though keyboardists with that kind of talent must exist nowadays, but they are perhaps not as popular as they once were.

Do we have such "Rockstar" pianists in the modern age? Who are they?

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One of my favorite up-and-coming pianist/composers is Aysedeniz Gokcin. Not yet 30 years old, she's someone who combines a marvelous piano technique with impressive compositional skills.

Here's her "Pink Floyd Lisztified," an arrangement of some of Pink Floyd's songs in the manner of Liszt:

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Keep in mind that the Beethoven "duel" is legend. By legend I don't mean that it didn't happen, only that it's one of those famous stories passed down through the generations, and stories like that only come along once or twice in a lifetime.

We certainly still have "rock star" pianists today that you might want to check out:

And there's something to be said about someone that uses their encore to play that piece that all the six year olds learn.

  • And then there's Josef Zawinul, who used an inverted keyboard with high notes to the left and low notes to the right just to keep him thinking. – Areel Xocha May 20 '17 at 6:55
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The type of keyboard music typically composed during the classical age was so much less complex, and the number of professional musicians was so much smaller, that the comparison cannot be made in any reasonable way.

A lot of present-day pianists could probably sight-read the music of a second-rate composer from 1800. But that was a time when the music of Liszt, Alkan, Ligeti, Messiaen etc. etc. did not exist, and would have been considered absurd and obviously unplayable. It is impossible to say whether there are living musicians who are as phenomenal by current standards as Beethoven was by his era's standards.

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Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) is an impressive keyboarder and a true wizard, maybe not quite as famous as Beethoven. He's not only an accomplished piano virtuoso, he's also constantly pushing the boundaries of his instrument, e.g. by controlling and designing sounds in innovative ways such as with the Haken Continuum and his iPad apps.

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