History & Development of the Piano Concerto

Updated: Feb 26

As conductor of the San Fernando Valley Symphony orchestra and the composer of four piano concertos, James Domine brings his unique insights to an historically curated encyclical compendium of the development of the piano concerto. The main style periods will be explored in chronological order, involving listening examples, discussion of the repertoire, as well as the composers and genres associated with each. This course will cover the Classical, Romantic and Modern periods. Lectures will discuss the role of significant composers in the development of musical style. We will explore elements of music such as formal compositional structure, melody and harmony, instrumentation, and basic

terminology as they apply to specific pieces, composers and style periods.

Playlist for Piano Concerto Class

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 1 in F major, K. 37 Murray Perahia


Mozart: Concerto #20 in D Minor K466 Freiburger Mozart-Orchester, Michael Erren, Valentina Lisitsa


Mozart: Piano Concert Nr 24 c Moll KV 491 Rudolf Buchbinder Piano & Conductor, Wiener Philharmonia


Mozart: Piano Concerto No 23 A major K 488, Maurizio Pollini, Karl Bohm


Beethoven: Piano Concerto no°1 - Krystian ZIMERMAN;WIENER PHILHARMONIKER


Beethoven: Piano Concerto #3 in C minor Op.37 - Arthur Rubinstein - Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink


Beethoven: Concerto #5 in Eb major "Emperor"

Vladimir Ashkenazy with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Bernard Haitink. Royal Festival Hall, London, 1974.


Chopin: Concerto #1 in E minor - Evgeny Kissin, Zubin Mehta


The Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, is a piano concerto written by Frédéric Chopin in 1830, when he was twenty years old. It was first performed on 11 October of that year, at the Teatr Narodowy (the National Theatre) in Warsaw, Poland, with the composer as soloist, during one of his “farewell” concerts before leaving Poland.

Chopin: Variations on “La ci darem la mano”


Frédéric Chopin's Variations on "Là ci darem la mano" for piano and orchestra, Op. 2, was written in 1827, when he was aged 17. "Là ci darem la mano" is a duet sung by Don Giovanni and Zerlina in Act I of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, and Chopin's adaptation inspired Robert Schumann's famous exclamation, Hats off, gentlemen! A genius! Variations on "Là ci darem la mano" was Chopin's first work for piano with orchestra. In his early career he wrote two piano concertos and three other concertante pieces, but always remained relatively indifferent to the orchestral elements of these works, often using the orchestra as a mere accompaniment to the much more brilliant piano part. Chopin often played the variations without accompaniment, and he later abandoned the orchestra almost entirely in his compositions, though he was working on a third concerto in 1834, and in 1841 he published the Allegro de concert, speculated to be the first movement of the unfinished concerto.

Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto #1 in G minor


Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25, was written in 1830–31, around the same time as his fourth symphony ("Italian"), and premiered in Munich in October 1831. This concerto was composed in Rome during a travel in Italy after the composer met a pianist in Munich. Mendelssohn attended one party after another in Munich in October 1831, the month of the premiere, but he also played chamber music and taught double counterpoint. He performed the piece himself at the premiere, which also included performances of his Symphony No. 1 and the Overture from Midsummer Night's Dream. He had already written a piano concerto in A minor with string accompaniment (1822) and two concertos with two pianos (1823–24).

Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor


Schumann had worked on several piano concertos earlier. He began one in E-flat major in 1828, from 1829–31 he worked on one in F major, and in 1839, he wrote one movement of a concerto in D minor. None of these works were completed. The premiere of the first movement (Phantasie) took place on 13 August 1841 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig with Clara Schumann as the soloist. The complete three-movement version was premiered in Dresden on 4 December 1845, again with Clara Schumann, and the dedicatee Ferdinand Hiller as the conductor. Less than a month later, on 1 January 1846, the concerto was performed in Leipzig, conducted by Felix Mendelssohn.

Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major - Lang Lang - Last Night Proms 2011 BBC Symphony cond. Edward Gardiner


Franz Liszt composed his Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, S.124 over a 26-year period; the main themes date from 1830, while the final version is dated 1849. The concerto consists of four movements and lasts approximately 20 minutes. It premiered in Weimar on February 17, 1855, with Liszt at the piano and Hector Berlioz conducting. The main themes of Liszt's first piano concerto are written in a sketchbook dated 1830, when Liszt was nineteen years old. He seems to have completed the work in 1849 yet made further adjustments in 1853. Liszt made yet more changes before publication in 1856. Béla Bartók described it as "the first perfect realisation of cyclic sonata form, with common themes being treated on the variation principle."

Liszt: Totentanz – Valentina Lisitsa – John Axelrod


Grieg: Piano Concerto in A minor – Artur Rubinstein


This work is among Grieg's earliest important works, written by the 24-year-old composer in 1868 in Søllerød, Denmark, during one of his visits there to benefit from the climate.

The concerto is often compared to the Piano Concerto of Robert Schumann: it is in the same key; the opening descending flourish on the piano is similar; and the overall style is considered to be closer to Schumann than any other single composer. Incidentally, both composers wrote only one concerto for piano. Grieg had heard Schumann's concerto played by Clara Schumann in Leipzig in 1858, and was greatly influenced by Schumann's style generally, having been taught the piano by Schumann's friend Ernst Ferdinand Wenzel.

Anton Rubinstein. Piano Concerto No 4 in D minor Op 70

Age Juurikas, piano Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Maestro Neeme Järvi


Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 in B-flat minor


Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 in B-flat minor -Yuja Wang


Padrewski – Concerto in A minor


Brahms: Piano Concerto #1 in D minor - Yuja Wang, Valery Gergiev


Dvorak – Concerto in G minor – Rudolf Firkusny


Anton Rubenstein: Concerto #4 – Josef Hoffman/ Fritz Reiner 1937


MacDowell - Piano Concerto No. 2 – Van Cliburn



MacDowell - Piano Concerto No. 2 – Earl Wild


Rachmaninoff – Concerto #2 – Evgeny Kissin


Rachmaninoff: Concerto #2 – Yuja Wang