Bach has written a huge body of keyboard music that ranges from "easy peasy" (Anna Magdalena) to "inhuman" (the ol' prelude & fugue).

A significant part of it is both popular with public performance and recording (by a number of big name players as well - think Gould, Joao Pires) and part of the standard "intermediate" (Grade 5-7) piano curriculum - in other words something most students will play at some point or another.

Everybody, not just future virtuosos, your cousin who is in med school but has been taking piano lessons for 4 or 5 years as well.

Is there anything else like that?

Especially from the classical period proper?

I can think of a few examples from late Romanticism/early 20th century - but that I know of, Rachmaninov's works are mostly virtuoso pieces, Debussy wrote either virtuoso pieces or beginner-intermediate pieces that people that are not piano students rarely know, Bartok - well, Bartok's piano works are fairly obscure anyway.

Is the intersection between "pieces that students play" and "pieces that great players/really proficient amateurs play" really limited to Bach?

  • 3
    Popular to whom? Easy for whom? I fear this question has more subjectivity than one would like. Mar 10 '15 at 12:09
  • @CarlWitthoft: I mean "actually performed in public" and "part of the standard study curriculum". Pieces that both students - at home - and professionals - at concerts - play. I'm not sure if I'm making myself clear. Mar 10 '15 at 12:19
  • To further clarify - I don't think that anybody actually plays the Microkosmos in public and I don't think that most students play Liszt virtuoso pieces - except future professionals, not your cousin who takes piano lessons. Mar 10 '15 at 12:27
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    OK, how about Beethoven sonatas and other short pieces? Mar 10 '15 at 15:20
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    I don't understand the purpose of this question, the only one coming to mind is, to study something which then can be presented in a concert - a somewhat adventurous approach. It was already discussed in another question, that the grades are highly depending on the country, which I would also claim for the concert repertoire. Why obvious Haydn and Mozart are not mentioned yet, eludes me.
    – guidot
    Mar 11 '15 at 8:07

Beethoven and Mozart piano sonatas are regularly performed, both in examinations and concert hall. Including the 'easier' ones.


If you want pieces from the "classical period proper," then Mozart and Haydn are the main ones. If you want to stretch a point, then include Beethoven up through Op. 22 or perhaps Op. 49. If you want to further stretch a point, then include Beethoven up through Op. 90, and some of Schubert's earlier works.

Of course, there are plenty of other composers of rather lesser note in this time period, such as Clementi. But if you are looking for composers from this time period whose piano works are regularly performed, that would be mostly Mozart and Haydn.

Pieces that are played very often by both amateurs and professionals include Mozart's C major sonata, K. 545, and his A major sonata, K. 331 (the "Rondo alla Turca" sonata). The Rondo in D, K. 485 is commonly performed as well. Beethoven's "Pathetique" Sonata is played probably more often than any of these, as is his "Moonlight" Sonata, although the latter is moving further out of the classical style.

If you want to look at Beethoven that is very much in the classical style (albeit thumbing his nose at it a bit), and hasn't been played to death, then have a look at any of the Op. 2 Sonatas.

If you want "something else like that" that is more in the early Romantic period, Chopin is very popular with pianists at all levels, to the point of being considered "essential repertoire" by many professionals. Have a look at his Preludes, which range from accessible to early intermediate students to very difficult. Also his waltzes (although I personally think they are his weakest pieces, with one or two exceptions), mazurkas (some of his best music, some are not at all difficult yet often played), and nocturnes (ditto). His etudes are great music, but range from pretty tough (no. 3, the most often played and probably easiest one) to quite difficult (no. 2, no. 23).


I believe Chopin's wide array of piano pieces would fit in with what you're looking for. There is much to choose from, and his work is well-received by the public. Etudes are part of his repertoire.

  • 1
    You mentioned J.S. Bach, who is late Baroque, so I hope using Chopin doesn't stray too far from the Classical period.
    – Mark
    Mar 10 '15 at 17:49
  • Chopin was not part of the CLASSICAL period. Mar 11 '15 at 7:00
  • 3
    @jjmusicnotes Yes I know, look at my NOTE right above yours.
    – Mark
    Mar 11 '15 at 13:15
  • Well, I mentioned JSB and then I asked if there were other composers/works, especially from the classical period proper (as opposed to JSB) :) Mar 11 '15 at 17:28

Well yes there are examples from all over the place really.

Beethoven and Mozart were mentioned by Laurence. Most Mozart sonatas are within range of decent amateurs but find a recording of Dinu Lipatti playing K310 and see how a professional tackles it, especially the last movement.

Ditto Beethoven, although the later sonatas are a bit tricky, I admit.

How about Scarlatti? The "Sonatas" are excellent study pieces for intermediate pianists and they get performed in concert from time to time.

Then there's Haydn. Loads of recordings around of his keyboard output.

Chopin has already been mentioned and I agree with what Mark says.

The list goes on; I'm sure you see what I am saying. There's loads of it out there.


I understand the question to mean, which composers, especially Classical era, wrote pieces that run the gamut from beginning/intermediate through virtuoso?


Bach is the primary example, because he was specifically writing pieces for teaching. The Anna Magdalena notebooks, the Inventions and Sinfonia, even the Preludes and Fugues were written with educational purposes in mind.

Mozart (Classical)

Some of the pieces Mozart wrote as a child are commonly used for teaching. For example, his Minuet in G (IMSLP), written when he was five years old (source), is a very common beginning teaching piece. He also wrote commonly taught intermediate level pieces: for example, Mozart – 15 Intermediate Piano Pieces, edited by Elena Abend.

Beethoven (Classical)

Beethoven wrote a variety of easy-to-intermediate short pieces, often dances of various kinds. His Sonatinas (Sonatas Op. 49, Nos. 1 & 2) are absolutely standard intermediate teaching material. A list of beginning to intermediate level Beethoven pieces can be found at https://www.pianotv.net/2016/10/easiest-beethoven-piano-pieces/

Clementi (Classical)

Clementi's Sonatinas Op. 36 are among the most commonly taught intermediate level pieces, even more so that Mozart or Beethoven. His concert works are not as frequently performed, but in recent years they have become more common, as pianists have looked for material that hasn't already been worked to death.


Schumann's Album fur die Jungend, composed for his daughters (Wikipedia) is standard intermediate level fare, especially "Melody", "The Happy Farmer", and "The Wild Rider". And of course his virtuoso works are among the great masterworks and are standard concert material.

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