Top Five Classical Grammy Winners of All Time

Friday, February 10, 2012

The 54th Grammy Awards (which air Feb. 12 on CBS) will feature dozens of musicians and performances. However, the closest the telecast gets to classical will the appearance of classic rockers such as Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney (who’s flirted with symphonic composing over the years). Still classical musicians are among the most decorated artists throughout Grammy's history. We’ve collected the five most successful.

1. Georg Solti

Over his career, Georg Solti won more statuettes than Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand and the Beatles combined. Between 1962 and 1997, the conductor collected 31 Grammy Awards (nine for best orchestral performance, eight for best opera recording, seven for best non-opera choral recording, six for best classical recording overall and one for the best chamber orchestra recording). And that’s not including his lifetime achievement award which he received in 1996.

2. Pierre Boulez

Another conductor with strong ties to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Boulez, lands on the list as receiving the fourth-most Grammys in history (25). Only three of his awards came for his composition skills, as compared to eight awards for his interpretation of Bartok works. The CSO’s current music director, Riccardo Muti, has continued the tradition, bringing the ensemble’s total Grammy wins to 62.

3. Vladimir Horowitz

Tied with Boulez at the number four slot is eccentric pianist Vladimir Horowitz. (His total also does not include the President’s Special Merit Award he won posthumously in 1990, the year after he died.) The legendary musician was 60 years old when he received his first Grammy award for his 1962 album, Columbia Records Presents Vladimir Horowitz. He won a second posthumous award in 1993 for Horowitz: Discovered Treasures

4. John Williams

Soundtrack composer par excellence John Williams has dominated the Best Score category since he won his first Grammy in 1975 for the music for the movie Jaws. Then from 1977 through 1982 he swept the category with compositions for Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. He only won two Academy Awards over the same time. However, Williams’s success makes him the most honored living composer according to the Recording Academy.

5. Yo-Yo Ma

The last place on our list goes to a second soloist, who will likely add to his 16-trophy Grammy collection, "Yo-Yo." The cellist has as many awards as Leonard Bernstein (as well as Sting and Beyoncé). He’s also one of the few classical musicians who has performed during the telecast recently. Ma’s last three Grammy’s have been in the controversial classical crossover category (which no longer exists as of this year).


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Comments [3]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Instituion

NOWADAYS ITS POLITICAL AND REACHES DOWN TO THE LOWEST DENOMINATOR. CLASSICAL ARTISTS ARE LISTED IN A SNAKE TRAVELING FAST AT THE VERY CLOSE OF THE PROGRAM. THE SO-CALLED SINGERS ARE MORE SPEAKERS THAN SINGERS AND THEIR VOCAL TIMBRES ARE SIMILARLY UNDISTINGUISHED. The New York City Opera because of the Koch brothers taking over the former State Theater of Lincoln Center appears to be forced to go under. Their orchestra also was one of the best. If young singers have no place to prepare for the big time except to sing in smaller European opera houses, where the interest there is to help their own citizen, then BIG TIME STUPIDITY HAS TAKEN OVER OUR "CULTURE." What is the point of reducing our so called spending budgets to the point where nothing of value exists in the USA? My cousin MICHAEL BLANKFORT wrote both the books and screenplays for the 1953 film THE JUGGLER Hollywood film made in Israel starring KIRK DOUGLAS and the 1950 Hollywood film BROKEN ARROW starring JAMES STEWART and JEFF CHANDLER [Cochise]. The music for THE JUGGLER was composed by opera composer GEORGE ANTHEIL, in whose opera VOLPONE I sang the tenor leading role [Mosca] in its professional world premiere in NEW YORK in 1953. ANTHEIL, famous for his opera TRANSATLANTIC and BALLET MECHANIQUE looked exactly like Peter Lorre. I am a romantischer heldentenor. I have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I opened my three hour concert with the Invocazione di Orfeo from Jacopo Peri's opera EURIDICE composed in 1600, the first opera, composed in the same year as Shakespeare wrote HAMLET. It, and from the same concert, can be heard my singing Florestan's "Gott, welch Dunkel hier ! from Beethoven's FIDELIO and "Sound an Alarm" from Handel's JUDAS MACXCABAEUS in the live performance on my three websites,, ,, and It received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines. My voice teachers were the legendary MET OPERA singers Alexander Kipnis, Friedrich Schorr, Frieda Hempel, Martial Singher, John Brownlee, Karin Branzell and Margarete Matzenauer. As an opera composer myself ["Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare"] I fully comprehend the assumed urgency of recognition of the still living. I am the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute in Boonton, NJ where I train actors in all the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers in all the Wagner opera roles. My singing of TRISTAN, GOTTERDAMMERUNG SIEGFRIED, SIEGFRIED, SIEGMUND, RIENZI, LOHENGRIN, WALTHER VON STOLZING PARSIFAL, ELEAZAR, FEDERICO, ORFEO and OTELLO can also be heard at RECORDED SELECTIONS on the

Dec. 26 2012 08:32 AM
RCM from

I think I'd take issue with John Williams's place on the list. Although he does do classical of course, as far as I know, all his awards are for orchestral pop. The Star Wars theme may be a terrific piece of music, but classical it aint.

Feb. 14 2012 04:29 PM

Interesting information. You may want to edit your intro paragraph and #1 for Barbra (not Barbara) Streisand.

Feb. 12 2012 03:11 AM

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