Piano Forum

Reimagine! – Contemporary Piano Pieces with Inspiration from the Past
Pianist Inna Faliks’ project “Reimagine – Nine World Premieres” includes comporers’ responses to Beethoven’s late Op. 126 Bagatelles as well as Maurice Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit. Piano Street enjoyed her performance at the Cremona Musica last fall and got the opportunity to talk to her about her ambitions project. Read more >>

Topic: Building a music library  (Read 1334 times)

Offline jimf12

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 84
Building a music library
on: July 02, 2020, 06:25:26 PM
First post on the forum, so first off hello to all...


I am an adult re-starter, after ~10 years of not playing I am back at it.     I am looking for advice in building my music library.    I restarted in May, and have been able to dedicate myself to a near daily routine of around 2 hours/day.   I am working out of 100 Essential Keyboard Etudes and Schirmer's Selected Piano Masterpieces - Upper Intermediate Level .  I have several pieces from the latter in good shape, currently working on Debussy's Reverie which is getting close.

I still have pieces to work on in the Schirmer book that I want to learn and will provide a reasonable challenge, but I want to start thinking about tackling some more challenging material.   One natural thing to do is to find a similar book at an Advanced level.   I like the variety in these types of books, but I am wondering if it would be better to buy books that are more comprehensive per composer.   For example things like Chopin's Complete Preludes, Nocturnes and Waltzes, Beethoven Sonatas, WTC, etc...    This would give a more complete set of music with more in them than I could complete in a lifetime, but this is going to require a bigger financial investment to have music from a variety of composers. 

The other alternative of course is sheet music - I did do that with Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata because I wanted to relearn that and it was not included in the Schirmer book.   

So to summarize, would it be better to create a library of books with various music samples at a given level, go more with sheet music and target specific pieces, or invest in a more comprehensive library of music material?    Or maybe a hybrid approach - complete works from a few key composers supplemented with sheet music.

Offline pianoannieq

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 41
Re: Building a music library
Reply #1 on: July 02, 2020, 08:07:32 PM
Hi Jimf12,

Before you move on to more advanced pieces, make sure you feel comfortable playing a few intermediate pieces at performance level. For choosing more advanced repertoire, always choose a piece that you enjoy, because you will be far more motivated to practice it. They don't necessarily have to belong in the same set of works. In my opinion, I think it's better to have a diverse repertoire with different composers and technical demands instead of sticking to one set of works for one composer.

The imslp website and waltercosand.com have lots of sheet music :)
I hate music (and sarcasm) :)

Beethoven Sonata 18
Liszt Rhapsodie Espagnole
Prokofiev Sonata 4 op.29
Scriabin Piano Concerto

Offline dogperson

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1559
Re: Building a music library
Reply #2 on: July 02, 2020, 09:22:08 PM
I actually add to my music library based on music I really like and will play— now or in the future, whether it be a single sheet, anthology by one composer or various composers and periods. I have bought bulk boxes of used music, knowing only some will be played but the price was too appealing to pass up

I did not buy anything thinking of a “library” nor did I purchase everything at one time or to fill some standard formula. Sometimes well-known music and composers, sometimes lesser known ones.

Everything purchased when the whim strikes. It just seems to grow in multiple directions like the wind without a care. 

Offline quantum

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6221
Re: Building a music library
Reply #3 on: July 02, 2020, 10:53:30 PM
Hi, and welcome to Pianostreet,

Graded anthologies are not as numerous for advanced level repertoire, likely because by the time a pianist reaches that level, difficulty becomes more subjective, and they generally have a better idea of how to source music from other collections.  For example, take the RCM graded repertoire and studies books: by the upper grades (say grade 8 through ARCT), the graded anthologies contain a small fraction of repertoire a student may select for an exam, and many students end up not using the graded books.  ARCT does not even have a graded book, students just refer to the syllabus and purchase music as individual pieces.

For advanced playing levels, anthologies may be subject or job driven: for example, wedding music, themed ideas for recitals, music for gigs, and so on.  It can make it easier to program ideas for concerts, or just have less stuff to bring with you to a gig.  Anthologies might also be collections by a single composer, or a group of composers from the same time period. 

For frequently played music in the canon, or composers you have great interest in, it can be worthwhile to go with a quality edition.  Quality editions can be expensive, but they are an investment.

Don't get too distracted on building a library all at once, add a little here and there as your needs grow.  Music libraries can grow faster than you think, and before you know it you are in need of more storage space.  Keep a look out for used scores.  Libraries frequently sell off older parts of their collections.  Teachers and performers may even give away music when they do spring cleaning. 

If you want to build a large library, establish an organization system early.  You want to be able to quickly find something in your library.  It is also too easy to buy duplicates because you forgot you already have an item. 

Do your research before you buy.  At the very least know if a publication is public domain or not.  You don't want to spend a lot of money for a large volume of music, only to later find out it is a fancy bound photocopy of something that you can obtain legally for free online. 

In addition to the online sources mentioned in a previous post, Pianostreet does have digital sheet music. 
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline piano_sight_reading

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 8
Re: Building a music library
Reply #4 on: July 03, 2020, 11:22:34 PM

If you've enjoyed the Essential Keyboard Etudes book, you could look into getting some of the volumes of the Essential Keyboard Repertoire series. The pieces are early to late intermediate and are selected from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern eras. Then as you get more familiar with composers and come to like certain composers, you could look into getting collections of pieces by those composers.
In the end, it's whatever takes your fancy. 

Offline jimf12

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 84
Re: Building a music library
Reply #5 on: July 06, 2020, 05:30:55 PM
Yesterday I did buy the WTC which has a few things in it that I just need to refresh, as well as a couple of pieces of sheet music that will be easy to brush off since I have chunks of both I can play now by memory.  (K545 and Fur Elise). 

Otherwise I'm going to follow advice of playing in my range, get material I like, and also look at online options (didn't think of that, which shows my age I suppose).

Thanks for taking the time to answer.
For more information about this topic, click search below!

Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert