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Topic: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking  (Read 12970 times)

Offline johnjwong

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Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
on: August 30, 2004, 01:15:07 AM
Hi guys, I'm trying to build my techniques slowly and not jump too much on the repertoire that I chooses above ARCT, so I found out a repertoire difficulty ranking list i found:

https://www.geocities.com/piano_wizard/thoughts.html#32

Can some body verify if the information is correct and are there some spots you think need changes?

Personally, I jumped from liszt's rigoletto to don juan and I think I made a big mistake, so now i'm trying to go slowly and choose the right piece that i'm going to learn next.

Do you guys have any difficulty ranking list?

Offline Nana_Ama

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #1 on: August 30, 2004, 01:43:25 AM
Quote


Can some body verify if the information is correct and are there some spots you think need changes?



Well, that's difficult to say since everyone is different.  One piece that may be hard for you might be extremely easy for another person and vice-versa.  
I scare people; people scare me; it's a mutual thing!!!

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #2 on: August 30, 2004, 02:29:25 AM
Your right; however, from his list of repertoire, he should have put the Brahms 2nd concerto at the top of the difficulty heap, or maybe Rach 3.  The Hammerklavier is, IMO, not nearly as difficult as those concertos.  If I studied it closely, I could certainly find other things I disagree with, but for the reason that Nana_Ana said, I don't think it's worthwhile.

Offline bernhard

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #3 on: August 30, 2004, 02:37:00 AM
I am afraid that for the purposes you stated a list like this one is pretty much useless.

1.      Difficulty is completely personal – what is difficult for one player maybe easy for other. Take Chopin’s thirds etude (op. 25 no.6) which pianowizard ranked 46th in a list of 56 pieces. Ahskenazy, who has a natural facility for thirds (he said it himself) would probably rank the same etude in a much lower position.

2.      Apart from the first  6 or 7 pieces in his list all of the pieces are advanced pieces, and therefore it can be argued that they are all equally difficult. Or to put it another way, if you can play any ten pieces of that list (except the first 6 or 7) you should have the technology and knowledge to master without problems (though not necessarily without difficulty) the remaining 46.

3.      Difficulties are not comparable. A Mozart sonata and a Rachmaninoff prelude maybe both difficult, but they will be so for completely different reasons, and mastering their respective difficulties will require very different approaches. Some of these difficulties to be conquered may require that you change your psychological make up and deal with your limitations as a human being. Literally, in order to play a certain repertory you must become an altogether different person. This partly explains why certain pianists are brilliant at certain pieces and terrible at others (Glenn Gould comes to mind).

I would like to suggest that much more useful to your purposes is not an arbitrary list of disparate pieces ordered according to a subjective criteria of difficulty but a progressive list of pieces that leads to your desired piece.

So start by selecting a piece that seems impossible to you at the moment and that you would like to learn, for instance, Chopin’s Revolutionary study op. 10 no. 12. Now ask for a progressive list of pieces that will lead you to master it. One possible answer (in progressive order of difficulty) would be:

1.      Start mastering these 3 pieces with the left hand only (that is, play both right hand and left hand parts with the left hand only):
J. S. Bach – Prelude no. 1 (WTC1)
J. S. Bach – Little prelude BWV 999
C. P. E.Bach – Solfegietto.

2.      P. D. Q. Bach – Prelude and fugue no. 1 in C from the “Short-tempered clavier”.

3.      Mozart – Variations on “Ah je vous dirais je Maman”: Variations 2, 4, 6. and 12

4.      Shostakovitch - Prelude Op. 34 no12

5.      Alexander Tcherepenin - Bagatelle Op. 5 no. 6

6.      Mendelssohn - Song without words Op. 30 no. 5

7.      Mendelssohn - Song without words Op. 53 no. 3

8.      Schumann – Novelette (Bunte Blatter, op. 99 no. 9)

9.      Chabrier – “Idylle” from Pieces Pitoresques

10.      Chopin – Prelude op. 28 no. 3

After you mastered these 10 pieces – and most importantly the process by which you learn them -  mastering the Revolutionary should present no problems (it will be difficult, but it will not be a problem). Not only that, but you will have added ten superlative pieces to your repertory.

Are other lists possible for the same purpose? Of course. The only limit is your knowledge of the repertory.  You may grade this list even more finely by adding another 10 pieces in between each of the above. Or you can skip stages by learning only the evenly or oddly numbered pieces.

The beauty of this approach (besides the fact that you increase repertory through the process) is that although the difficulty of an isolated piece of music is subjective and pretty much useless, the ordering above is not subjective at all, because your target piece focus the selection and subtracts the random element present in pianowizard list (my list leads to the revolutionary, his list leads nowhere). Whatever your natural facilities, the pieces above will always be ordered in that way, and they will always lead to the revolutionary.  Of course such lists are priceless, since they encapsulate a lifetime of study and experience.

Lists like piano wizard’s one anyone can make, and people can then waste vast amounts of time hotly deliberating if the ordering is correct or not.

To give you another example. Suppose you want to learn all the preludes and fugues of the WTC (or all Beethoven sonatas). The difficulty of each of these pieces is a useless piece of information – even though people are forever enquiring about it. And anyone will have their opinions about it.

Much more useful is to ask in which order you should learn them so that the skill you acquire learning one gives you the resources to learn the next.. When you put your question like that, the subjectivity of the answer may not altogether disappear, but it will certainly diminish considerably.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
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)

Offline johnjwong

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #4 on: August 30, 2004, 05:40:36 AM
That is why i want you guys's opinion, i know everyone has different opinion and difficulty works differently on different people, sigh of course i know that, but what do you guys think need changes?  At least there is some majority about things because i never seen anyone say rach 3 is easier than liszt's consulations...

Offline donjuan

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #5 on: August 30, 2004, 07:21:02 AM
Quote
Liszt: "Vallee d'Obermann" from Pilgrimage
Tchaikovsky: Concerto No.1
Beethoven: Appassionata Sonata
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No.12
Liszt: Sonata in B minor
Chopin: Etude Op.10 No.4
Rachmaninoff: Flight of the Bumble Bee
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
Chopin: Scherzo No.1
Schumann: Toccata
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No.2
Liszt: Mazeppa
Addinsell: Warsaw Concerto
Liszt: La Campanella

pshh...I cant see how he considers Hung. Rhap 2 harder than the immortal Sonata in B minor.  Hungarian Rhapsody is a breeze compared to the sonata. - The variations, the length, the awkward hand positions, and the emotional component- huge! Such a work as the sonata will emotionally drain you, whereas the Rhapsody will be more of a thrill ride to wet your appetite.

donjuan

Offline johnjwong

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #6 on: August 30, 2004, 04:05:03 PM
Quote

pshh...I cant see how he considers Hung. Rhap 2 harder than the immortal Sonata in B minor.  Hungarian Rhapsody is a breeze compared to the sonata. - The variations, the length, the awkward hand positions, and the emotional component- huge! Such a work as the sonata will emotionally drain you, whereas the Rhapsody will be more of a thrill ride to wet your appetite.

donjuan



So you think sonata in bm should change with hr2?

Offline rohansahai

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #7 on: August 30, 2004, 07:35:12 PM
That's a ridiculous order! Mozart B flat maj. sonata more difficult than the G minor rach. prelude??? No way!!!
Waste of time -- do not read signatures.

Offline donjuan

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #8 on: August 30, 2004, 07:50:20 PM
Quote



So you think sonata in bm should change with hr2?

nonono..I think the Sonata should be comparable to the Norma Fantasy, and I just found something else:

Quote
Chopin: Polonaise No.6
Chopin: Scherzo No.3
Scriabin: Etude Op.8 No.12
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No.6
Liszt: "Vallee d'Obermann" from Pilgrimage
Tchaikovsky: Concerto No.1
Beethoven: Appassionata Sonata
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No.12
Liszt: Sonata in B minor
Chopin: Etude Op.10 No.4
Rachmaninoff: Flight of the Bumble Bee
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
Chopin: Scherzo No.1

What the heck is Flight of the Bumble bee doing so far above Scriabin's Etude Op.8 No.12? Flight of the Bumblebee is significantly easier with just chromatic scales being the only really challenging things.  the Scriabin Etude is much MUCH more ambitious with huge left hand leaps and bravura that is so difficult to control.

donjuan

Offline johnjwong

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #9 on: August 30, 2004, 11:46:10 PM
thx for the comments guys ^_^

Offline bernhard

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #10 on: August 31, 2004, 01:36:20 AM
Quote
Lists like piano wizard’s one anyone can make, and people can then waste vast amounts of time hotly deliberating if the ordering is correct or not.




I rest my case. ;)
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)

Offline Max

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #11 on: August 31, 2004, 10:08:30 AM
It's heavily flawed. I'm not gonna argue it, but..

I guess "Gaspard" shouldn't be more difficult than Liszt's Mephisto Waltz, and "Islamey" is probably as difficult as Brahms' Paganini Variations.


Just that statement alone ruins all credibility of the list.

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #12 on: August 31, 2004, 09:02:36 PM
Beethoven: Appassionata Sonata
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No.12
Liszt: Sonata in B minor
Chopin: Etude Op.10 No.4

I also find this section of list rather ridiculous.  If I had to order those four, I'd do:

Chopin: etude op. 10 no. 4
Liszt:  Hungarian Rhapsody #12
Beethoven: Appassionata Sonata
Liszt:  Sonata in B minor

I just simply can't fathom how anybody would consider Chopin's op. 10 #4 harder than the Liszt B minor, as he has them in his list.

Again, these lists are very close to worthless, but this one has almost no credibility.

Offline rohansahai

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #13 on: September 01, 2004, 04:33:21 AM
My version of the list::

Mozart: Sonata in C K545
Liszt: Consolation No.3
Chopin: Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. posth.
Schumann: Scenes From Kindergarten
Haydn: Sonata in C Hob. XVI/50
Mozart: Sonata in B flat K281
Schubert: Impromptu D899 No.1
Schubert: Impromptu D899 No.4
Mozart: Sonata in F K332
Rachmaninoff: Prelude Op.3 No.2 "It"
Liszt: "Chapelle de Guillaume Tell" from Pilgrimage
Liszt: Liebestraum No.3
Mozart: Concerto No.23
Schubert: Impromptu D899 No.2
Mozart: Concerto No.20
Liszt: "Sonetto 104 del Petrarca" from Pilgrimage
Rachmaninoff: Prelude in G sharp minor Op.32 No.12
Liszt: "Les jeux d'eau a la Villa d'Este" from
Pilgrimage
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No.15
Liszt: Un Sospiro
Beethoven: Concerto No.3
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No.11
Beethoven: Emperor Concerto
Chopin: Polonaise No.6
Chopin: Scherzo No.3
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No.6
Liszt: Funerailles
Chopin: Scherzo No.1
Rachmaninoff: Prelude in G minor Op.23 No.5
Liszt: "Vallee d'Obermann" from Pilgrimage
Beethoven: Appassionata Sonata
Chopin: Etude Op.10 No.4
Rachmaninoff: Flight of the Bumble Bee
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No.12
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No.2
Addinsell: Warsaw Concerto
Chopin: Etude Op.25 No.6 "Thirds"
[Chopin: Etude Op.25 No.11 "Winter Wind"]
Schumann: Toccata
Liszt: La Campanella
Liszt: Mazeppa
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
Scriabin: Etude Op.8 No.12
[Liszt: Wilde Jagd]
[Beethoven: Hammerklavier Sonata]
Brahms: Concerto No.1
Liszt: Mephisto Waltz No.1
Tchaikovsky: Concerto No.1
[Liszt: Don Juan Fantasy]
[Liszt: Norma Fantasy]<<"I've never heard it, so i'll let it be where it is!">>
Schumann: Fantasia in C op. 17 <I've added this>
Liszt: Sonata in B minor
[Liszt: Feux Follets]
[Brahms: Paganini Variations]
[Brahms: Concerto No.2]
[Rachmaninoff: Concerto No.3]
Waste of time -- do not read signatures.

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #14 on: September 01, 2004, 05:57:48 AM
IMO that's a major improvement, but I'd still think that the list underestimates the difficulty of the Appassionata as well as Brahms' first concerto.

Offline Max

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #15 on: September 01, 2004, 04:13:57 PM
I would never trust a list like this - if were just a collection of hard pieces, then fine, but you can't rank these - for example. ranking concerti with solo pieces.

Not only that, but I think most of it is wrong. Difficulty is in the eye of the beholder, who knows, but to most people that list would be very strange.

Offline johnjwong

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #16 on: September 01, 2004, 05:17:47 PM
Quote
I would never trust a list like this - if were just a collection of hard pieces, then fine, but you can't rank these - for example. ranking concerti with solo pieces.

Not only that, but I think most of it is wrong. Difficulty is in the eye of the beholder, who knows, but to most people that list would be very strange.


I'm just trying to see what others opinion are, i won't stick to 1 list and follow it, instead i will try to find a very big variety of opinions so to help myself choose right piece.

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #17 on: September 01, 2004, 05:36:05 PM
If you want to choose a new piece to learn, I would ask you this.  Are there any pieces that you've badly wanted to learn for a long time, that seem just out of reach?  If so, perhaps you could practice that one, you'd enjoy doing it as well as developing some technique.

Offline Medtner

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #18 on: September 01, 2004, 06:34:23 PM
If you read that guy's article very carefully he's not listing these pieces by difficulty and setting them in stone for all to adhere to. He was having fun just seeing what he feels is more difficult for himself. Things like this are very personal and will differ from person to person.

Quote
So, I thought it might be fun to list all the pieces I played during the Christmas vacation in increasing order of technical difficulty


Notice he said "might be fun" and particularly referring to the pieces he "played" during a certain period of time and he also includes a few others he doesn't play but that he feels are of the same difficulty level. He's not taking the thousands of piano repertoire pieces and giving them all consideration here.

If he knew you were taking it as seriously as this, he'd probably take it down!

Offline donjuan

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #19 on: September 03, 2004, 02:44:32 AM
Quote
My version of the list::
[Liszt: Norma Fantasy]<<"I've never heard it, so i'll let it be where it is!">>

You are missing out on some great music of Liszt.  In my opinion, it is his best transcription ever!
donjuan

Offline janice

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #20 on: September 03, 2004, 07:09:04 AM
Quote

2.      P. D. Q. Bach – Prelude and fugue no. 1 in C from the “Short-tempered clavier”.


LOL!!  Have you ever seen P.D.Q. Bach  in concert?  It's totally hilarious!!  A real bladdar-buster!
Co-president of the Bernhard fan club!

Offline super_ardua

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #21 on: September 03, 2004, 10:41:13 PM
Difficulty is different for everybody.

For example,  I am finding Un Sospiro more difficult than La Campanella.
We must do,  we shall do!!!

Offline aki

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #22 on: September 05, 2004, 10:08:20 AM
I agree with the fact that everybody has their own difficulties, and therefore the same list cannot be the same for everyone.  A person with a small hand will have a much harder playing the Mephisto Waltz no.1 than someone with a larger hand and the same amount of technique.

Offline Sebastian

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #23 on: September 10, 2004, 01:04:26 AM
Hello,

Sorry for my poor english, I'm french.

I agree with the fact that everyone has its own difficulties. I'm also impressed by Bernahrd post and globally agree with him.
However I think it is possible to approximately give a level of difficulty.

I have taken a look to two books.
They are named "ten years with XVIIIth and XIX th century piano music", "ten years with XXth century piano music".
There is a third book about harpsichord repertoire which may be useful for Couperin, Rameau,... (J.S Bach is in first book).
The goal of these books is to list many pieces by category (studies and exercices, piano solo, piano and orchestra, four hands,...) from approximately first to tenth year of study. Depending of time you spend to play of course.
Hardest pieces are not listed and if you have an advanced level it will not help you.

These books are in french but are very clear.
They are published by "Cité de la musique" https://www.cite-musique.fr/

Offline liszmaninopin

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #24 on: September 10, 2004, 01:26:16 AM
I'd say that if somebody wants to seriously rate difficulty, they would be best off with categories.  Some pieces are obviously more difficult than others-for example, the Hammerklavier is more difficult than Sonata Pathetique by basically any standard.  However, for those pieces that are similar, categories would be a useful way of rating difficulty-the pieces within each category would pose different challenges to different pianists.  For example, perhaps the categories could be:  beginner (simple melodies, simple movements), easy (things like fur elise), intermediate (things such as a number of Chopin preludes, a number of Scarlatti sonatas, etc.), difficult (many Beethoven Sonatas, Chopin etudes, etc.), advanced (harder sonatas by Beethoven, Liszt, Prokofiev, easier concertos, difficult toccatas, and the like), and expert (Things like Hammerklavier, Gaspard, Rach 3, etc.).  Finally, if you wanted it, there could be a category called extreme (i.e., Sorabji, Xenakis, Boulez, and many other twentieth century composers who created works that are playable, but only barely).  

Offline thuesii

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #25 on: January 04, 2005, 03:12:17 AM
hello i am new to this post..i just finished the following pieces and i am very welcome for suggestions that you want to give to guide me accorfingly to the right pieces that i have to tackel next.

Chopin nocturne in Eb major
Mendelson's song without word"sighing wind"
bach 2 part invention nos,1,4,13,8,15
whole movement of mozart sonata in C major
Haydn Sonata in Ab major
whole opus of clementi sonatina op 36
Chopin prelude in C minor
Mozart fansy in D minor
Six vienesse sonatina by mozart
Bartok mikrokosmos V the whole bk.
Bethoveen sonata pathetique in C minor.2nd and 3rd movement
moonlight sonata 1st movement
WTC I no 2 C minor prelude and fugues
chopin waltz in B minor and the minuet waltz
Poulenc toccata from troi pieces.

I plan to work on the unsospiro or perhaps the chopin eoalian harp etude but i dont know if i already have the sufficient technique to do that..



thanks 




BLESS BE THE MUSIC

Offline musicsdarkangel

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Re: Repertoire Difficulty Ranking
Reply #26 on: January 05, 2005, 03:18:50 AM
Difficulty is different for everybody.

For example,  I am finding Un Sospiro more difficult than La Campanella.

wow

that blows my mind
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