Welcome to my first post!

I recently discovered Chopin's four Ballades and I am particularly drawn to the first. I am currently not at the level to play it, but I would love to play it in the future. I've heard that the third is considered easier, but by how much? If I start learning the third Ballade once I get to the level that I would be able to create a convincing performance of the whole piece, would it last me until I reach the level required for the first Ballade? Or are they similar enough in difficulty that I would likely reach the level of the first not long after I start learning the third?

Thanks very much in advance for your responses!

2 Answers 2


All four Ballades are highly advanced, both technically and musically. For the most part, a pianist who can play one of them convincingly could play any of them convincingly.

It's true that the third is generally considered easiest, but this is because it's also considered less emotionally complex than the others, thus easier to interpret. Nevertheless, "easiest" is relative — "easiest" among a group of very difficult pieces.

A random sampling of opinions about the third ballade:

the Third Ballade is considered to be the least difficult (PianoStreet, Pytheamateur, December 12, 2011, 10:48:22 AM)

ballads: 3, 2, 1, and 4 (easiest to hardest) (PianoStreet, Skeptopotamus, March 30, 2005, 05:46:56 PM)

The ballades are all difficult, but [#3 is] the easiest of them (sort of like the shortest Himalaya). ("In the Hands" blog, Paul Cantrell)

Note that none of these would be considered the opinions of "experts". Rather, they are the opinions of people approaching the Ballades as recreational pianists, so more consistent, presumably, with where this question originates.


All 4 ballades are very advanced pieces but I personally do find the 3rd to be the easiest. The 4th I do not yet play.

It’s important to remember that what one person may find difficult, another may find easier.

The first ballade is exceptionally difficult and is an incredibly emotional piece of music which has the pianist playing a story so to speak. Therefore it is not just the skill of playing a very technically demanding piece of music but the skill of playing it with such expression. This is what I would call a rather sadistic piece of Chopin. Playing extremely difficult music for near on 8 minutes before arriving to the opening theme and having to play this with such anticipation and dramatically before reaching a fiendishly difficult coda.

One thing I would suggest before tackling such pieces is your technique of playing chromatic scales at speed. Many very accomplished pianists don’t even have the proper technique for playing chromatic scales at speed and this will have a significant impact on any progression to advanced repertoire by Chopin and Liszt.

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