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Topic: published difficulty ranking pianoworks  (Read 4948 times)

Offline Nipoch

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published difficulty ranking pianoworks
on: July 07, 2004, 09:01:43 AM
Hi, I know that there is a booklet with hundreds of pianopieces alle ranked between difficulty 1-10. Published by broekmans & van poppel, author: Kloppenburg (Dutch). My Question: Is there something like this published on the internet or are there other books like this?
Godert ???

Offline faulty_damper

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Re: published difficulty ranking pianoworks
Reply #1 on: July 07, 2004, 07:14:23 PM
We know this one guy, who's name I shant repeat, that can play octaves very fast, accurately, and insanely loud banging.  ;D

Anyway, he can play these octaves very well because he spends so much time doing it.  Compare his octaves skill to mine and I don't compare.  We've been playing for the same amount of time.

Smart fellow just knows where this post is headed so I'll just arrive at my point:
"What the dog poop is everyone so concerned with grade?  You play for 5 years and the most difficult song is Chopsticks followed by Happy Birthday.  Yeah, that's gotta be difficulty 9 and 8." ::)

Really though, why do you want to know what the difficulty of a bunch of songs without words are?

Offline Saturn

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Re: published difficulty ranking pianoworks
Reply #2 on: July 07, 2004, 07:39:44 PM
You should play what you want to play.  As you attempt a piece, you get a very good idea if it's too far above your level to play.  If you enjoy it, and it isn't too difficult for you, that's really all that matters.

In a sense, I think it's harmful to know what the difficulty of a piece is before you begin it.  Someone who starts a piece knowing that it's supposed to be dreadfully difficult will already approach it with a certain hesitance that would not be present if he simply plunged into it.

If you really truly want to know the "grade" of pieces, you probably could just check the websites of various examination boards and see if they have difficulty listings.  I don't know much about those things, so I don't know what criteria they base "difficulty" on.

- Saturn

Offline bernhard

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Re: published difficulty ranking pianoworks
Reply #3 on: July 08, 2004, 02:05:42 AM
I agree with Faulty and Saturn. Difficulty is highly subjective, and I am not really sure what criterion grading boards use (I am often astonished by their classification).

Nevertheless I think there is some usefulness in knowing the progressive difficulty of a body or repertory. For instance, you decide to learn all of the Beethoven sonatas, or all of the 48 preludes and fugues of the WTC, it makes sense to learn them in progressive order of difficulty. Unfortunately even this may be very subjective and dependent on the student.

Ideally a student would come to a teacher with a sizeable list of repertory that s/he would like to perform eventually, and ideally the teacher – by examining the student’s strengths and shortcomings  - should be able to order that list of repertory in progressive difficulty so that the student would gradually acquire both the technique to play the most difficult pieces and acquire repertory in the process. Unfortunately things are rarely ideal.

Now, I don’t like to give only discouraging advice, so here are some books that list most of the piano repertory. Some of them do not grade the difficulty of pieces (although they may comment on it), and even the ones that do should not be taken at face value, since difficulty is always subjective.

General piano repertory:

Jane Magrath – The pianist’s guide to standard teaching and performance literature (Alfred). Piano solo only. Covers most of non-virtuoso pieces. Grade pieces from 1 – 10. Personally I find that she grades most pieces at a higher level than necessary (for instance, many pieces that she considers grade 10 I would consider grade 6/7). But this is not a criticism, just my personal opinion. There is no mention of any piece that starts to border on the difficult (e.g. Chopin Etudes and most Lizst pieces). Again this is not a criticism – the book is over 500 pages without adding these pieces, and if you are playing Chopin etudes, you are probably well able to grade pieces yourself.

James Friskin &Irwin Freundlich  - Music for the piano (Dover). This covers most of the piano repertory – including concerts and chamber music. It is a bit dated, since it only goes up to 1952 (at least my copy does). There is no grading from the pieces, although comments on the difficulty of the piece is often given. I find this book very useful since it covers the virtuoso repertory as well.

Maurice Hinson – The pianist’s repertory – (Indiana University Press). Perhaps the most comprehensive book on the solo piano repertory, with many interesting comments and grades. Hinson also wrote a number of other books covering the concerto repertory, the two (and more) piano repertory and so on. Have a look
here for a list of his books:


Although not as comprehensive as the lists above, the following two books also have graded lists of piano repertory, especially useful for teachers:

Denes Agay – Teaching piano vol. 1 & 2 (Yorktown music press) – Volume 2 covers the repertory under the following headings: piano methods, piano duets, sonatas and sonatinas, 20th century music for the developing pianist, piano literature based on American folk songs. The degree of difficulty is not uniform (each chapter has been contributed by a different author) so you can have  a simple progression like beginner/intermediate/advanced, or grades 1 – 10.

James Bastien – How to teach piano successfully (Kjos) – Covers mostly the teaching repertory. Appendix C has a comprehensive list of recommended pieces graded in elementary – advanced elementary –early intermediate – intermediate – early advanced – advanced – difficult.


Howard Fergusson – Keyboard duets (Oxford) – Lists most of the four hand/two piano repertory. Although no gradings are given, the duets are listed more or less in progressive order of difficulty.

Maurice Hinson – see above.

Specific composers:

David Yeomans - "Bartok for piano - a survey of his solo literature" -  This is a superlative book discussing in detail the difficutlies of all of Bartok's solo piano music. An interestisn feature is that he gives two sets of grades (from 1 to 15) to each piece: technical difficulty and musical difficulty, for instance, Children's dance (no. 10 from "For children") id graded at 4 technically and 5 musically.

Eleanor Bailee has written three superb books (all published by Kahn & Averill) discussing in depth how to learn the complete works of:


Practically all piano solo pieces of these composers are covered and all are graded (ABRSM 1 – 8 )


Michael Davidson - Mozart and the pianist (Kahn and Averill) – All of Mozart’s solo piano pieces are discussed in detail Particularly useful in that it gives detailed and authoritative ornament realisation. For some weird reason, the author has decided to give his ornament realisations in writing, rather than by giving a score, so be prepared for some laborious decoding. Although he doesn’t grade the pieces, he discusses their specific difficulties.

I have not come across any website that has this sort of information (although you may find grades for exam pieces in the several examining boards).

I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg

Best wishes,
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)
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