The Man wrote:
That's fantastic. Ironically enough, I'm currently working on a Chopin and a Bach piece right now. Chopin is the man. I feel like playing the classical has really improved my jazz playing, as well.
It should, though Jazz piano is it's own beast to tangle with. However, Etude means study for a reason. It's pretty much practice pieces for techniques designed to make a virtuoso. Classical piano has all the technique and polishing required to be good at well, anything skill wise in piano. The difficulty in jazz is clearly the freedom. You never do pure improvision in classical music, you almost always go by some sheet music or learn from it. Concert pianists don't improv in the same way jazz ones do (I mean, classical pianists do improve sometimes a few notes or even measures to add a spin to the song, but they don't go up there and start playing their heart out with whatever they feel). The hardest thing for me when learning jazz was not the technique, but what do I do next and how do I do it? That's where a shit ton of music theory comes in, knowing what chords compliment eachother, which ones resolve, inverted chords, and things like the circle of 5ths to know what key you're staying in. But yeah, Classical piano will make you better at any other form.
And for purely piano, Chopin is my favorite composer by far. For all classical instruments and orchestra's, it would probably be Beethoven, Back, then Rachmaninoff. People think the B's are easy, when the truth is far from it. Bach writes some killer piano pieces and Beethoven has some nasty ones too, Sonata Quasi Una Fantasia Mov. 3 is quite challenging. For Rachmaninoff, the breadth of his work speaks for itself. It has the complexity and polishing of Chopin, the technical absurdity of Liszt, and the emotional potency and beauty of resolution found in many Bach pieces.