Earl Wild (born November 26, 1915) is an American pianist known especially for his transcriptions of classical music and jazz. Wild is recognized widely as a leading virtuoso of his generation. Harold C. Schonberg called him a supervirtuoso in the Horowitz class.
Born in Pittsburgh, Wild was a musically precocious child and studied under Selmar Janson, Simon Barere and Egon Petri, among others. As a teenager, he started making transcriptions of romantic music and composition.
He was the first pianist to perform a recital on U.S. television (in 1939, in his capacity as staff pianist for NBC), he was also the first pianist to stream a performance over the Internet (in 1997).
In 1942, Arturo Toscanini invited him for a performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, the first for orchestra and soloist, which was a resounding success and made him a household name. During World War II, Wild served in the United States Navy as a musician. A few years after the war he moved to the newly formed American Broadcasting Company (ABC) as a staff pianist, conductor and composer until 1968. Wild is renowned for his virtuoso recitals and master classes held around the world, from Seoul, Beijing, and Tokyo to Argentina, England and throughout the United States.
He has also created virtuoso solo piano transcriptions of 12 songs by Rachmaninoff, and works on themes by Gershwin. His Grand Fantasy on Airs from Porgy and Bess, the first extended piano paraphrase on an American opera, was recorded in 1976 and had its concert premiere in Pasadena on December 17, 1977. He also wrote Seven Virtuoso Études on Popular Songs, based on Gershwin songs such as "The Man I Love", "Fascinating Rhythm" and "I Got Rhythm".