Invented by expert Italian harpsichord maker Bartolomeo Cristofori, the modern piano is celebrated for its resonant sound and versatility of style. This list of great piano pieces encompasses music starting from the 1600s up to the present day. The pieces are listed with the earliest at the beginning and the most recent at the end but are in no particular order, instead arranged in a way to maintain interest when listening to them all in succession (scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full Spotify playlist).
Ten Song Taster
Domenico Scarlatti’s Piano Sonata in E major K380
This performance by Vadim Chaimovich elegantly captures the rhythmic precision of the Baroque period.
Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op.27 No.2 – “Moonlight”, Mov 3.
This electrifying performance of the third movement of one of Beethoven’s most famous piano sonatas is by Valentina Lisitsa. The tempestuous energy of this piece has led to comparisons with a storm.
Schubert’s Impromptu in G-flat major, Op. 90 No.3
Full of flowing melodic lines made up of arpeggios and broken chords, contrasting against the languid melody line, this is one of the first pieces to be composed in the unusual key of G-flat major. Performed by Polish classical pianist Krystian Zimerman.
South Korean composer and pianist Yiruma has achieved widespread fame via YouTube with his “contemporary classical” style of composition. Speaking to http://www.hancinema.net, he discusses his inspiration for writing:
I try to recall the memories of my past, my childhood, sometimes my lovers … But it’s all my surroundings that inspire me. That’s the beginning point of my composition, really.
Liszt’s La Campanella
The third of Franz Liszt’s six Grandes études de Paganini, this playful and energetic piece is characterised by large interval jumps and bare octaves. Performed here by Yundi Li.
Chopin’s Waltz in E minor
[You can click on each song individually and a new Spotify link will open in your browser]
- Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988: Variation 1 a 1 Clav.
- Mozart: Concerto for Two Pianos in E Klat, K.365: Rondo (allegro)
- Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major Op. 106 Hammerklavier: I. Allegro
- Beethoven: Piano Sonata No.14 in C sharp minor, Op.27 No.2 -“Moonlight” – 3. Presto
- Liszt: La campanella in G-Sharp Minor from Grandes études de Paganini, S 141/3
- Schubert: Impromptus, D. 899 (Op. 90): Impromptu No. 3 in G-Flat Major: Andante
- Chopin: Nocturne for Piano, No. 8 in D flat Major, Op. 27,2
- Chopin: Scherzo No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 31
- Stravinsky: Les 5 doigts pour piano solo
- Chopin: Waltz No.14 in E minor, Op.posth.
- Pärt: Für Alina, for Piano Solo
- Albeniz: Asturias
- Kaempfert: Strangers in the Night – Live Recording
- Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 7 In B Flat Major, Op. 83: III. Precipitato
- Saint-Saens: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22: III. Presto
- Einaudi: Berlin Song
- Ravel: Piano Concerto in G – 2. Adagio assai
- Yiruma: Fotografia
- Adams: Phrygian Gates
- Poulenc: 2 Novelettes: Novelette No. 2 In B Flat Minor: Tres Rapide Et Rythme