Top 10 Easy Piano Pieces That Sound Great
Hopefully no one is coming to this looking for something they can sit down and play brilliantly in one sitting. There is no such thing as a great-sounding piano piece that can be learnt in seconds, but these are some of the simpler ones, that, if mastered, could convince everyone you’re a true pianist. Bear in mind though, the key to this, like anything, is practice. If you want something to sound good, you have to be prepared to work on it, but these are the top ten pieces, in my opinion, that sound amazing, and can be performed with not too much difficulty on your behalf. If you disagree with any of these, by all means, give your opinion in the comments.
This is far and away the most difficult piece on this list, and I’m sure there’ll be lots of criticism about the level of this piece, but when you really break it down, it’s based on quite simple arpeggios and very repetitive hand movements. The right hand theme is also relatively simple, presenting only a small challenge to someone with a particularly small hand. Chopin’s music wasn’t about creating technical difficulties for the pianist (that’s more Liszt’s field of work, some reasoned that Liszt was the world’s first three-handed pianist), but about creating flourishes and runs that are based upon the basics of piano playing. The hardest part of this piece by far is the speed factor, but even played slowly, this is sure to blow everyone away, if you have the discipline to learn it as a slow piece, and avoid the temptation of running away with it.
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While not one of my favorite pieces, this constantly crops up time and time again amongst lists of the all-time classics of piano. One thing everyone seems to always overlook though, it’s dead easy! If played at a moderate speed, there are no excessively challenging passages in the entire piece. There are some slightly tricky runs in the last half, but nothing that can’t be done without a little bit of practice. This is a must-have on any dinner party list, and given how well-known it is, people will immediately recognize this piece.
This is one I taught myself to play – and I am not a great pianist. Some of the stretches are wide – so wide hands are helpful, but it is actually a very simple piece. It manages to sound more complex than it is through unusual harmonies but it is well worth the go. You might notice that the theme Ives uses here is the same as Beethoven’s 5th symphony – Ives is well known for his use of pastiche in his writing. The end is particularly cool.
If you are familiar at all with John Cage, you will be very surprised by this piece. Cage is well known for his 4’33 in which the musician does not make a sound (the music is the ambient noise). He is also known for extremely jarring and dissonant music. This item, however, is quite the opposite – it is a beautiful slow melodic piece that you can’t help but love. It also uses the sustain pedal throughout (without lifting your foot) so you can concentrate on the fingerwork not the footwork.
This piece has been used countless times in advertising and it is no wonder – it is a beautiful piece of music by one of France’s most talented composers. This set of three pieces (number 1 is the one we have here) are considered to be precursors to the modern ambient music movement. Satie himself referred to much of his music as “furniture music” – implying that it should be background music.
A relatively slow piece, and yet another very popular piece, this song will forever remain remarkable to your audience if you can pull it off. Debussy’s slightly irregular harmonies combine in this piece to a gentle consonance, that creates a gentle, flowing image. The only tricky thing in this is to avoid heaviness, and maintain fluidity throughout. This will without a doubt be one of your most impressive pieces if executed correctly.
One of the masterworks from the film “The Piano” Michael Nyman’s piece draws together arpeggios and a simple melody to create a haunting, echoing theme that lasts for long after the piece is finished. While not a mainstream piece, this small gem is an astounding portrayal of emotion through music. The simple melody, interspersed with the accompaniment, is simply beautiful. I’ve chosen a rather different video than usual, because this shows the emotional side of the piece much more succinctly than a performance video.
Everyone will know the opening of this piece, it’s one of the most famous pieces of all time (it’s the alphabet song for god sake’s!) but few people know the entire thing. Mozart adapted the theme of a well known French folk song into 12 different variations, each of which focus on a different aspect of the piano. When played in it’s entirety, it is a stunning piece. It’s especially good for confusing people who don’t know what you’re playing, because when you start off, they expect something a whole lot different to where you end up. I promise you, this piece is not too difficult, but it will sound amazing if treated right. And for added benefit, here’s a video of a 7 year old playing it.
One of the most beautiful pieces of film music in years, from the French film Amelie, Yann Tiersen weaves simple melodies and accompaniments to create a gradually building, yet wholly simplistic melody. This piece is technically very simple, but it takes a certain emotional maturity to play it as more than just notes. This may well prove to be one of the more challenging on the list, simply because there is a tendency to play it too fast, or too heavily, which will utterly destroy the piece. If perfected, this will be one of the most emotional pieces in your repertoire, I know many people who have actually been driven to tears by this piece. This animation is a perfect summary of the piece.
Buy Yann Tiersen’s incredible 2014 album Infinity at Amazon.com!
There is no doubt (in my mind at least) that this belongs on the top spot. This is a remarkably simple piece that is potentially among the most recognized pieces of all time, and remains one of the favorite piano pieces ever written. Nothing needs to be said, just listen. [JFrater: if you like this, expand your knowledge of the piece by listening to the awesome second movement here. And for completion, here is the virtuosic talent of Glenn Gould playing the incredible third movement.]
Contributor: carpe_noctem (1 – 5, 9 – 10), JFrater (6 – 8 )
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Ludwig van Beethoven is my favourite composer, maybe typically. But his music seems to be far above everybody’s, even Mozart’s. That’s the impression I get. He’s just got such expression and emotion, I never felt any emotion in Mozart’s music bar maybe his later symphonies. And the Moonlight Sonata first mvt, despite being very simple, just brims with major emotion. It’s very beautiful. The third mvt is also very good! Very happy that the Moonlight Sonata got the #1 spot. Good job!
Disagree, Listen to Mozart’s operas such as Don Giovanni and Magic Flute or listen to his Requiem Lacrymosa. Only people who haven’t listened to all of Wolfgang’s work would dare say Beethoven is better. I mean one of Beethoven’s most popular works “symphony no. 5” is based off of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40.
Yes! To understand and appreciate mozart fully, i think you HAVE to listen to his operas.
Also for this list: Mozart adagio in b minor for piano. Short and simple, amazing stuff. Tears me up every time.
So bummed I’m at work right now. I want to listen to these. . .
Fantastic list. I’ve recently started listening to Chopin and Beethoven, and I can’t argue with ‘Moonlight Sonata’ taking the top spot.
fantastic videos, you dont know whatyou are missing
great list to wake up to, nice list carpe!
My comp has no speakers AND I’m at work. Moonlight Sonata is my absolute favorite piece.
Great list, makes me wish I could play the piano, maybe this will inspire me to take up lessons. I can however play Moonlight Sonata on the guitar.
Great List Guys! Although my piano skills are more along the lines of Freres Jacques and Green Sleeves. I am in agreement with the sentiment for #2, it is beautiful.
I’m a lousy pianist, and the fact that there are easy piano pieces that actually sounds great is encouraging and comforting to know! I’m interested in learning #2. Anyone knows where I can get the score online?
Number 2 just blow me away. I love Moonlight but number was just so powerful. Great List!
Number 2 just blew me away. I love Moonlight but No2 was so powerful. Great List!
what ever that lame
great list idea. how about 10 simple guitar pieces, or violin, or triangle?
Claire de Lune is, by far, my most favorite piano piece. And the woman is butchering it.
Thank you, he is playing it right!
I know Richard Clayderman’s works are definitely not classics like the ones on this list (some call them elevator music), but they sound rather great and are also very easy to learn too. Like his famous Ballade pour Adeline for example.
My favorite easy piece (way easier than all of these!) is Heart & Soul. Get someone to play back-up and it’s always a crowd-pleaser. I always add in my own variations to jazz it up. For instance, you can incorporate the Jeopardy theme in there.
it might not fit the “sounds great” requirement. lol
How about the Rondo Alla Turka, by Mozart? Easy cheesey lemon squeezy. Great tune and really fun to play!
Carpe – excellent list. I expect more piano lists from you 🙂
I would add Chopin’s dinky little Prelude in A major (Op28 #7). I was also thinking about Debussy’s Reverie…but maybe it’s not so easy.
This is by far one of the most beautiful lists on the Verse. No mutilations, no murderers, no gore. Simply some of the best music ever. Thank you!
Great list! I played piano for years growing up, but haven’t sat down to play.
I feel inspired
You should do the same with guitar!
heres Jfrater, loving on Cage again, haha. my favorite of Cage is Waterwalk which is titled because, as said by Cage, “It uses water, and i am walking”.
Skipps: a printable score is availaible at http://www.scribd.com/doc/2869711/Comptine-DUn-Autre-Ete-LApresmidi-Sheet
(I had to reduce it on my printer)
Skipps: a printable score of #2 is availaible at http://www.scribd.com/doc/2869711/Com…..midi-Sheetmusic-Amelie-Poulain
(I had to reduce it on my printer)
-Use this link not the cut off link
-Sorry for double post, I don’t know any other way to edit.
Well-Tempered Clavier prelude no. 1 in C major. Easy stuff. Now the fugue on the other hand… 😛
I agree, but it’s better on the Cello anyway. Piano just isn’t the same for that one.
What about like charlie brown? That piece is pretty easy and sounds cool. Plus people always know exactly what it is
I didn’t like her interpretation of Fur Elise, the phrasing seemed very forced, over stylized NOT what Beethoven wrote.
LOVE the list, really great, I used to play the piano but haven’t in a long time. This list makes me want to at least try and play these pieces.
Djb522: Is Charlie Brown really an easy piece? I’d love ot learn that as well
The Charlie Brown Theme (actual title “Linus and Lucy”) is very easy. The majority of it consists of only 12 notes in the same pattern (flourishes are up the pianist), and is instantly recognizable.
Claire de lune was not an easy piece to learn, and I say that with ten years of piano experience.
It’s well worth the time though =).
Pink Panther theme isn’t too bad either
canon in D major
also the minuet is fairly simple and although it may not be as easy but fun as to play is hungarian rhapsody ( if you remember watching that episode of tom and jerry, you know what piece im talking about)
bohemian rhapsody is also great
I actually used Fur Elise for my piano proficiency exams during college, even through I’m a woodwind player who’d never touched a piano until I got to college. Nice list.
Great list Carpe & Jamie too… very nice listen.
Carpe are you back??
I might add “maple leaf rag”. I’ve never taken the time to learn it, but I know people love it and I hear it’s easy. Anyone concur?
I just heard Tim Russert died. sad.
me too, that is sad. He was young
um, and r kelly acquited of all charges? huh?
he died of a heart attack at 58.
yes, entertaining list and I respect people who play the piano, it seems so difficult
Yes I’d have Pachelbel’s Kanon on this list. It’s the only piece I’ve ever played well 2 handed. It sounds awesome when done right.
I don’t think any piano piece is easy, at least not for me. You couldn’t tell who was playing if it was me and some other kid
The Great Ju-Ju: I thought about adding the Rondo ala turka – but the 20th century pieces won 🙂
Schiesl: You have to admit – the cage piece is damned beautiful – it certainly shows that he wasn’t just a hack hitting together a few pots 🙂
SocialButterfly: I don’t think carpe is back yet – he submitted this list a few weeks ago.
where is he…..Lost
Thank You, Carpe & Jamie
Great list. I love Chopin, I grew up in a house with a piano in it and I still get ‘Chopsticks’ wrong!
Sorry it still looks hard to me.
This reminded me of when my brother was playing a blues type song on his guitar in a certain key and told me I could accompany him with some improvisation on the piano if I only use the black keys. He was right it sounded pretty good no matter what black key I hit. And I can’t play the piano.
I also remember seeing this clip of someone using only the black keys.
#3-if only the alphabet was that interesting. and day-yum! that 7 year old has skills. he didnt even have music!
#1-i love that song too. i love the sound of a piano in general
I have played (anywhere between sight-reading and performing) 7 of these.
With a degree in piano performance, I’m trying to fit “Chopin Revolutionary Etude” (not his title BTW) and “easy” into the same sentence. Same goes for most of these. Maybe I’m out of practice. Come to think of it, I am out of practice. There’s a piano at school. Early on, I made arrangements to play it during my and the music teacher’s spare lessons, but that has fallen by the way. I now spend my spare lessons browsing the List Universe. (As opposed to the Liszt Universe. Ha Ha Ha!)
I didn’t bring much music to Korea, so I can’t make many suggestions. As well as the Gymnopedie there are two others, less well-known but perhaps even easier, and the three Gnossiennes, imho much better music. Some of Bartok’s Microcosmos are very effective, with a touch of exoticness.
Mozart may be technically easy, but is musically elusive. Someone (?Schnabel) said to the effect “Mozart is too easy for beginners and too difficult for professionals”.
Bach’s suites, little preludes and the Anna Magdalena Notebook are worth checking out. Handel wrote a surprising amount of keyboard music, now almost never played. The Pachelbel Canon was originally written for orchestra, and has three equal lines weaving in and out. Piano arrangements vastly simplify this. Some arrangements aren’t really at all – they’re someone else’s variations on the same harmony.
I could go on … It’s been ages since I’ve had the chance to talk piano music.
BTW Jamie, Beethoven really was an influential composer.
I think this was a wonderful list and I’m rather impressed at the inclusion of film music which is so often neglected since it doesn’t always translate well to a concert setting except through arrangement.
I think it should be stated that, while the Chopin suggestion is certainly not one of his more difficult pieces, the pianist does need to have a strong left hand technique. But Chopin wrote many simple Preludes and pieces that amateur pianists can incorporate into their repertoire.
I adore Ives and thank you for introducing me to this piece – I’m most familiar with his orchestral and vocal music.
I have one major comment concerning Beethoven’s “Moonlight” sonata. Strong evidence supports that what we are most accustomed to hearing is actually not what Beethoven intended. At close analysis of the score, although the tempo marking is slow, the piece should be felt in 2, not 4 as it is so often presented, as a result of the “Alla breve” marking in the time signature. It doesn’t mean that the piece should be played “fast” – but that there is much more motion and direction to the piece than what is traditionally heard and taught. Each triplet should be felt in groups of two (6 notes), rather than be separated and each note given equal weight – the most common aspect of amateur and young pianists who study the work. Althought Beethoven did much to break so many of the restrictions and formalities in composition mandated by the Classical period, it should be kept in mind that this piece is still the first movement of three and should not be treated as if it were the second.
Much research has been done by great musical scholars like Max Rudolph, Rudolph Serkin, and Benjamin Zander on this particular piece of music – and all came to the same conclusions – that a slightly less deliberate and more flowing tempo helps bring out the real magic of the piece. By taking a ‘faster’ tempo, the tension of the diminshed chords and the passing dissonances surge and exibit a much more passionate sensation than when the piece is performed like a dirge and at slower tempos.
I personally feel that the entire movement should be felt as one huge grand gesture – a deep, profound breath – the opening suggesting a deep inhalation and the end takes us to a complete expiration. It can be a deeply sensual and spiritually connected rendition when thought of in these terms – and too slow a tempo inhibits the performer and lister from such an experience.
Thank you, Astraya, for agreeing with me about Beethoven’s role as an ‘influential’ composer.
I taught myself Fur Elise when I was a kid because I thought it was pretty. It is the one and only thing i can play on a piano. I just plunked different keys until I figured out he fun parts, then taught myself the rest when I got older just because. It is a fun party trick… the girl who never took lessons plays the piano!
Wow. Awesome list. And I mean that.
I listened to #2 before even reading the description, and closed my eyes so I could hear the piece without interference. That is the first time that a piano piece has moved me to tears. And the video fit it so well, it just brought on even more.
Wonderful list, and I hope to see more musical lists in the future. 🙂
I love Beethoven and Mozart. Geniuses! Beethoven lost his hearing, but his music theory was so complete he could compose without hearing what he was writing. And Mozart was once asked by a student how to compose a symphony. He told the child he was too young. His student replied that he (Mozart) had composed symphonies when he was young. Mozart’s reply? I didn’t have to ask how.
I loved The Piano with Anna Paquin. She won some kind of honorary Oscar, if not the real thing. I cried. That movie broke my heart.
I knew a lot of these. I play the flute and have been in Orchestra or Concert band most of my life. I don’t get piano. When I play flute, my fingers move in conjunction with eachother; both hands play one (1) note. But piano? All the fingers play a separate note. So confusing. I also can play chopsticks and the like. But “real” music? No way.
And to all the Australian participants, I just heard of an Australian wasp called Aha ha? Anyone want to explain why a wasp is called Aha-ha? Does it make you laugh when it stings? Of course not, I know that. But what gives?
Hi Michael (AKA MPW). How are you tonight?
thanks for this list…fur elise was just what I needed after reading about Tim Russert.
Hello Vera Lynn, I’m well, how about yourself
I almost almost drove off the road when I heard about Tim Russert. That’s just nuts. I feel for his family. They cannot say good bye. And that I don’t wish on my mortal enemies. May he rest in peace, and his family find closure. He died doing what he loved. And that can be a blessing.
Hi MPW. Im well. Im done cleaning out my classroom. So I am footloose and fancy free for 8 weeks. WHEEE.
Watching “Young Frankenstein>” Very out of character for me. I like dramatic things. But who can resist YF?
was it really hot in your class today
No not so bad. But cleaning up is a chore. Grimy.
yeah, that was terribly sad, his son just graduated from Boston College and now this. I feel for his friends and family
his dad is still alive, he is in his eighties
Cleaning, not my favorite thing to do
Thanks for asking. I love when in the movie they say “Frau Blucher” (sp) and the the horse whinnies. Blucher means glue in German. Funny.
Young Frankenstein is an awesome movie. i loved Peter Boyle as the monster
I didn’t know that. About his father. Even sadder.
How does one post a list? I have several tnat I think would be interesting.
you’re welcome, besides I like to know how your days goes:)
just click on the “submissions” link at the top of the page and you’ll find the instuctions
“that ” not “tnat” Im sure you knew that.
dont worry im not a grammar nazi…. anymore
i hope one of your lists gets picked. one of mine did but i hated it
MPW You are amazing. I am on here every day just to correspond with you. You have captured a bit of my heart. Maybe more than a bit. I am so glad you are happy healthy and well. Life threw some evil shit up your way and you dealt with it beautifully. Strength is measured in many ways.
according to a lot of the commenters, my list was terribly written
thank you, that means a lot to me.
you are the reason i stay so long on this site. you have captured a piece of my heart as well.
MPW Umm Since when did you care about what people think? I thought you were stronger than that. Look people in the eye and DARE them mentally to take a swing ( mental or physical). Then knock them silly. Again either physical or not. We spoke of this the other night. You are great. You have risen above. You have WON. Not a small feat. A huge victory.
MPW I will keep the part of your heart that you have entrusted to me safe. No questions asked. You have had a lot to deal with and the fact that you sound healthy is a credit to your intrinsic central being. You have a strength of character that most people cannot know. The strength of one’s soul bleeds over to the strength of one’s being. You are very strong.
i always try to keep my emotions inside but somehow you have brought them out.
even though we haven’t formally met i feel i know you so well and not to mention you are the first person to ever say such nice things about me
MPV You always speak what you think. The way you were so candid about your brother(twin). You claimed to always say what you think. Your emotions are Not inside. I can only reflect what you have given/shown me. I know you are very vulnerable. You have been hurt many times, many ways. Your sadness is paplable but pushed aside by your humor. It’s a wonder you don’t drink or smoke weed. Stay strong. It gets better. I know. And Im here. May be a small thing, but constant.
MPW MPV. My apologies. : )
oh man the angels lost 5-2 to the braves, how did the Cubs fare
definitely check out Organ Fugue by Bach… although technically not piano.
i guess you are right:)
you always know how to make me feel better
you could call me MVP if you like:)
congrats Vera you are officially a top Commenter:>
I don’t know you personally,
(MVP Michael) but I miss corresponding/talking/communicating with you. You are smart and funny. The Cubs lost. Bound to happen. They cannot win Every game! Esp with Gallagher pitching. Do you play an instrument? (Just pretending to have something to do with the list)
I am. How do you know. ThT IS CRAZY!!
I mean ” That is crazy!”
just scroll down and gaze at the right side of the page
unfortunately i dont, i wanted to learn to play the drums and i was gonna ask my aunts boyfriend but he died:(
let me just finish, i was going to ask him to teach me to play apparently he used to drum for Motley Crue before they were famous.
the MVP thing was a joke:) you can call whatever you like though;)
Most Valuable Player. Yes You are. As I said before, you are important. You are the only reason Im here. Be well. I know I say that a lot. Just be.
how come you arent registered with the site?
As much as i love music my passion is writing short stories, sports, and Law
Imagine being at a piano recital with Vera Lynn and MPW sitting behind you!
Shhh. Please. We’re listening to the music.
i tried playing the flute but i was so terrible at it the only song i could ever play was hot cross buns(123123222333123)
Idreno – the background to my comment was this list from a couple a months ago: http://listverse.com/music/top-15-most-influential-classical-composers/. Maybe you’ve seen it.
astraya, sorry about that
your username is interesting, is that how the Koreans say australia
I can kind of play number nine, which interestingly enough I thought was Mozart and not Beethoven. Goes to show how much I know about classical music! *Makes a mental note to do some reading*
The only reason I can any of it at all is because it’s programmed into my keyboard. The keys light up as the note should be played. When I used to practice more I had gotten pretty good, almost to the point where I didn’t need the lights to play, but now I’m pretty rusty.
I’d suggest The Entertainer, given my limited musical knowledge and all. It’s also programmed into the song bank on my keyboard and even after not playing for a bit, I was able to pick it up again rather quickly.
Great list! 🙂
Idreno: if you can find a youtube clip of someone playing the moonlight sonata in the way you describe it I would very interested in hearing it!
PS: aren’t 6-8 awesome? I have great taste in music 🙂
they are and you do:)
Good night Vera and good night everyone else
Vera if you ever want to send me an Email you can find it at my profile near the top commenter area. good luck with your lists:)
Excellant list. I wonder if I can talk the piano teacher into teaching my boys 2, 4, and 7. Those were my favorites while listening.
Great job Carpe and nice ad ins JFrater.
no way i agree with moonlight sonata being easy.
for one, its in a bitch key signature, which means half of its on black notes. It also means F’s are E#’s and Cs are B# which can be a bit hard to read fast.
Also you have a couple of 9ths to reach, which is a fair stretch for some, which are also a bitch.
The entire piece is basically played piano, which is difficult because its hard to play softly you want to get loud in a lot of sections
Then, you got the difficult task of playing triplet feels in your right hand, but are only allowed to accent the ones that represent the melody . The rest must be kept quiet at all times.
I’m a classically trained pianist, been playing all my life, studying bach of music atm, and because its slow and doesn’t have that many notes ppl sometimes get that impression. But i assure you, is not true. My opinion anyway
oh and for vera lyn,
“we’ll meet again, don’t know where.. don’t know when, don’t know where but i know we’ll meet again some sunny day”
I immediately jumped to the #1 to see if I’m correct that it’s Moonlight Sonata from Beethoven and it was! so good job jfrater 🙂
I could play this song too. I haven’t even touched the piano in a loooong time (few years), it makes me want to run to a piano right now and learn it all over again.
OOOOH, I love number four, it’s on a Pure Moods CD :))
This list makes me miss my baby grand dreadfully… I want a piano again!
odenia sphere – I would call the Moonlight Sonata ‘easy-ish’ because I didn’t find it technically hard but it required a LOT of patience to get the softness right.
Does anyone have a link for a performance of the Moonlight Sonata as described by Idreno?
I can’t read music, but by playing by ear I taught myself a little bit of “Humoresque(sp?)” by Dvorak, and I’ve tried “Die Moldau” by Smetana. My mom’s favorite tune to play was “Fur Elise” on our out of tune upright. Unfortunately, when you push on our piano keys now, you have to pry them back up with your fingers because they stick. That makes it kind of hard to play tunes. 🙂
p.s. I’ve also taught myself the piano part of “In The End” by Linkin Park.
I agree with Moonlight Sonata taking top spot, but I don’t see Chopsticks? Chopsticks should be on the list in my opinion.
I really like #7 and #1. If you notice both of these are played in a minor, which give that haunting dark feel to any song.
2 and 4 are just beautiful, id love to learn them
I completely agree with Domnick.
Never heard number 2 before and now i just can’t get enough.
I have not yet investigated any YouTube performances of the Beethoven that would coincide with what I have written, but I can certainly do a little hunting.
Benjamin Zander, a conductor I worked with several times in my youth, is a great Beethovenian scholar and has presented the most throrough analysis of the piece that I’ve personally ever encountered. His recording of Beethoven’s 5th and 7th symphonies with the Philharmonia Orchestra released on Telarc includes a second lecture cd (a common feature of his recordings) that focuses on the interpretation and realization of Beethoven’s tempo markings – he uses the Moonlight Sonata as his primary example to support his findings and does play the movement in both contrasted ways to exemplify his reasonings.
I knew Sonata was going to be on here as soon as I looked at the name of the list.
A brilliant intention! I’ve been taking piano lessons for the past few months, and I love it. I know the name of every major and minor triad and key signature, but I don’t really know any songs that I would sit down and play, as the ones in my lesson books are very simple and short. This list is very helpful, and Thank You!
Chopin’s etudes are not easy piano pieces. JUST THAT
“Music Box Dancer” by Frank Mills? Lotsa flourish and repetition make it sound more complex than it actually is. Not my cup of tea, but it was wildly popular.
Awesome even for a misodoctakleidist such as I.
MPW 102 – I read somewhere sometime that “Astraya” was a pen-name of Aphra Behn, widely considered as the first female novelist. I noted that because a) it sounds like “Australia” and b) she was a contemporary of Henry Purcell, and the choirs I sing in in Sydney sing a lot of his music. When I joined the List Universe I needed a username and chose that mainly for reason a).
Koreans have a letter half-way between our “r” and “l”. Different Koreans pronounce our “r” and “l” with different degrees of ability. I noticed one student pronouncing “l” quite well, but doing much worse on “r”. My head teacher, on the other hand, can hardly pronounce “l”, and makes “lunch” sound like “raunch” and “learning” sound like “running”.
Idreno 56 – your description of the Beethoven played like that made me think of the Schubert Impromptu in Gb major. The first time I heard it, the pianist played it super-slow, each quaver individually. I found out later that it was meant to be much faster, with the quavers blurring into a shimmer.
SilasCo 121 – The only part of Chopin’s Etudes that might classify as easy is the first section of op 10 no 3. Pity that there’s that middle part.
To someone who wanted his/her children to learn certain pieces: the bane of my previous career as a piano teacher was parents who wanted their children to learn (insert name of piece here). The pieces they wanted to play were invariably too difficult for their children at that stage of their learning.
It was me who wanted the piano teacher to learn them. And yes they are WAY beyond my children’s abilities. It was a little private joke as I have told the teacher about the lists here and hoped he was lurking about. 😉
* To teach them not learn them.
In A Landscape is just beautiful. I’ll have to look up more of John Cage.
Hey, I’m back, thanks for publishing my list Jamie, and thanks to everyone with something nice to say about it!
Since this is the most recent musical list, I’d like to take a moment to hopefully clarify something that is often needlessly brought up for discussion on many of the past musical lists: the disctintions of using the term “Classical.”
I’ll try to put it as simply as possible. When we speak of the major musical epochs, the chronological stylistic movements of Western Music through a historical viewpoint, we make reference to the Pre-Baroque/Renaissance period, the Baroque/Rococo period, the Classical period (approx. 1750-1800), the Romantic Period, and then 20th century music. This serves as a very general and basic categorization of similarities in compositional style between contemporaries. It’s like a musical version of the way scientists categorize species – Animals, Plants, Fungi, Monera, etc. – where each entry then breaks up into smaller, more specific groupings. Because we are dealing with history and the passage of time and different composers lifestimes overlap others and certainly overlap the various primary musical periods, these periods describe the main stylistic and cultural philosophies that contemporary composers of each time shared. So, it goes on to say that the Classical period of Western Music coincides with the historical Age of Enlightenment and the Romantic period coincides with the Romantic movement in both literature and art.
When we use the term “Classical Music” – this merely functions as a cultural device to incorporate all Western Music (from the earliest examples of Gregorian chant in the early Medieval period through all the just-describe musical epochs up to today with modern composers whose utilize basic, fundamental elements of what defines Western Classical music) – of course, now in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, many composers, despite their individual musical backgrounds and developments which may or may not be founding in Western Classical Music, have attempted and succeeded in crossing many musical boundaries by combining different elements from various musical styles (ie. Jazz, Ethno-music, Rock, etc.). But ultimately, the basic term “Classical Music” is used to encompass and easily categorize all of Western Music and differentiate it from other musical forms.
So, it is correct to call Wagner or Vivaldi or Shostakovich “Classical composers” even though none of them lived during the “Classical period.” Mozart, Salieri and Haydn are the most well-known “classical composers” of the “Classical period” thus making them “Classical composers” – just like we say that “Berlioz, Verdi, and Mahler were “Romantic composers” – it all depends on the context, but these terms are rarely as confusing to musicians as they seem to be in forums such as this which reach many non-musicians and music-lovers. I hope this helps many of the readers who are often confused by the “Classical Music Lists” featured on this website.
Lastly, with regards to ‘easy’ but ‘impressive’ piano pieces for amateur pianists – I would avoid composers like Joplin and Chopin because one really needs to have some level of technique to accommodate many of difficulties present – however, many composers like Robert Schumann and Bela Bartok wrote “Albums for the Young” which, while are not necessarily the most identifiable or popular pieces of music, they could serve as a helpful stepping stone for many amateurs to help them build up technique in preparation of more complex compositions. It’s worth looking into!
Thanks for this list, it provided me with some great moments
Thanks for giving me the name of #6. I’ve thought it was a beautiful piece, and you’re right, I only heard it through advertising. Shows how powerful advertising really is. I’m forever e-mailing companies asking them what music they used in their adverts.
moonlight sonat is amazing like the list i crie every time i listen tinkle tinkle makes me happy lol only MAN to create such beatiful music NOT women
I can’t really agree with this list at all. Most of the classical pieces listed here aren’t that easy – and most of all, they are everything but beautiful. I’m not professional pianist or anything, but I’ve been playing for over 15 years now and I find most of the pieces utterly boring and ugly even. But hey, maybe it’s just a matter of taste, as so many of you seems to agree.
I agree with Moonlight sonata (of course, Beethoven is my all time favorite) and two of the movie pieces, they are (quite) simple but very melodic and beatiful.
But I’m glad so many of you still appreciate piano music and music itself, thanks for your list anyways.
Nice exposition at 129, Idreno.
They tied me to the piano as a kid. I just couldn’t get the hang of sight-reading though. It’s my one and only dyslexia, but a killer (although in those days I was more into Twelfth Street Rag by choice). Once I’d eventually drilled the music into the memory buds of my finger-tips, partly by aural trial-and-error, I never needed its sheet music again, and used to win music festival prizes, both solo and ensemble (one I particularly recall was a Haydn flute trio). People would come to our home, keep demanding more until I reached the end of my repertoire, then couldn’t understand why there was no more. I’d sail through exams up to the sight-reading, then just scrape through or flunk. So I gave up as soon as the decision was mine. Besides, our house was so cold I was playing with painful, numbed fingers in winter. I prefer to give others pleasure doing what I’m good at, while passively enjoying others’ competence at music, sports, and so on. But it left me with an abiding love and understanding of the principles of music. No one plays CDs better than I do. I don’t have speakers on the pc, but I do have several of the 10 pieces here, if by different interpreters.
It occurs to me however that simple piano pieces can also make very good introductions to listening enjoyment. I was surprised how many had stuck with me from childrens’ radio programmes, etc., once I got sophisticated enough to recognise them. Both in that respect and also for performance, I entirely agree with Idreno about Schumann and Schubert, who fill up a good deal of my piano-disc shelf space. Whoever can resist ‘Träumerei’ from ‘Scenes from Childhood’ by Schumann can probably resist anything in classical music. Haydn might also be great, but his wildest fun is his breakneck-speed stuff, and that’s no way simple to play.
There’s plenty of fine direct and indirect useage of classical music in the cinema. Where would Louis Malle’s ‘Les Amants’ have stood without the heart-wrenching sweep of Brahms’s string sextet Op. 18? (‘Aimez-vous Brahms?’ 3 years later on too: what is it about Johannes der wunderbar for the French cinema? Most of their composers hated him!) Rachmaninov in ‘Brief Encounter’. Eisenstein and Prokoviev. Glass for ‘The Hours’, etc. But I bring this up because it reminds me of two truly memorable moments in fairly recent films that kind of fill the bill we’re talking here.
The first is the ‘Chopsticks’ duet on the ‘foot piano’ in the toyshop with Tom Hanks in ‘Big’, a smashing moment in a delightful and unpretentious film.
The second is one tear-wringer from the very watchable but rather less perfect work, ‘Bicentennial Man’. The intricately anthropoid family home-care robot (Robin Williams) is experiencing more and more Pinocchio-type yearnings to become human and experience life through feelings. He is sitting at the piano with the daughter of the family, now an accomplished player, and begins to plonk the opening solo notes of Berceuse (Lullaby) from Fauré’s Dolly suite rather woodenly. She joins in at the duet entry and gradually the whole piece melts into its ravishing, gentle modulations and surprising, luminous harmonies, symbolical of the transformation from mechanical robot to sensitive, emotional, vulnerable flesh and blood. Anyone who can resist that could resist heaven!
If I seem a big, soft, sentimental nellie after that, wait for my take on Anton Webern’s Five Movements for String Quartet Op.5 in the Top 10 Most Difficult Modern Music Compositions. (I know somebody else has already got Cage booked.)
Seriously, as a follow up, 10 Pieces to Start You Listening to Classical Music might be fun, with a good historical sweep covering from at least Bach to Glass. Then Jazz? Then Rock?
Although Moonlight Sonata is considered “easy” and sure enough, there are barely any notes, I really wouldn’t consider it the easiest. Perhaps for a male it’d be easier since they have larger fingers and hands. But the song goes higher into octaves so many times and is a pain to play on your pinky. Plus, there is no really significant pattern that it’s quite troublesome to memorize. -______- That’s why Moonlight Sonata is actually on a higher audition level for the Guild Auditions. (And of which I totally killed during my audition)
And…what about Ballade Pour Adeline by Senneville? I guess it’s more of a modern piece but it does sound good….and it’s SUPER simple.
nice list but i personally think pavene by sviatoslav richter beats number 2