The Easiest Liszt Pieces (And the Most Difficult)

Talking about the easiest Liszt pieces is kind of a joke, because most of his music is extremely difficult – or at the very least, quite advanced.

However, it’s my mission to let you know which pieces are the easiest, even if that doesn’t mean they’re easy. And that’s what today’s video is all about! Most of the easiest pieces start at a late intermediate level, so I’d say you’d want to be at least a Grade 6 level before attempting any of these.

I’ll be using two grading systems to evaluate the difficulties of these pieces – the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM), and Henle. I’ve talked in depth about these rating systems before, and you can check out those videos if you missed them.

Easiest Liszt Pieces: Categories

The easiest way to discuss Liszt’s pieces are to divide them into categories, which are the following:

Etudes
Years of pilgrimage
Hungarian pieces
Consolations
Little piano pieces
Valse oubliees
liebestraume
Harmonies poetiques et religieuses
Misc works

We’ll go through each category one by one, and see if there are any easier pieces in each category. At the end of this video, we’ll do a summary of the easiest pieces.

Easiest Liszt Pieces: Etudes

Liszt has many collections of etudes, including Two Concert Etudes (S. 145), Transcendental Etudes (S. 139), Three Concert Etudes (S. 144), Grand Etudes de Paganini (S. 140), and Twelve Etudes (S. 136).

Among these collections of etudes, they are extremely difficult. The vast majority of them are marked at an RCM ARCT level (basically the highest level).

According to Henle, the Three Concert Etudes (S. 144) are between level 7-8 (the most difficult level is 9). You’ll want to leave these well alone until you’re at an advanced level.

Henle’s rating of the Transcendental Etudes (S. 139) are even more challenging, with most falling between levels 8-9. The exception to this is the third etude “Paysage”, which is rated at a medium level of 6 (which would still be quite difficult at around Grade 10 RCM).

Really the only etude that’s approachable to the late intermediate/early advanced student is his op. 1 no. 4 etude (S. 136), which is at around a level 8. You might want to check out some of the other etudes in the Twelve Etudes (S. 136) as well, though they’re not as famous.

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Complete Etudes For Solo Piano, Series I – Including The Transcendental Etudes
Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Ferruccio Busoni. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Dover Edition. Form: Etude. Classical Period and Etudes. Collection. With introductory text and performance notes (does not include words to the songs). 272 pages. Published by Dover Publications (AP.6-258157).
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Complete Etudes For Solo Piano, Series II: Including The Paganini Etudes And Concert Etudes
Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Ferruccio Busoni. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Dover Edition. Form: Etude. Classical Period. Collection. With introductory text and performance notes (does not include words to the songs). 184 pages. Published by Dover Publications (AP.6-258165).

Easiest Liszt Pieces: Years of pilgrimage

Liszt wrote three “Years of Pilgrimage” collections, which were his impressions of Switzerland, detailing his experiences with the landscape and countryside.

These are by and large for advanced students, with most of the pieces being around a grade 10-ARCT level. But there are a couple pieces within these sets that are a little more approachable, including:

rimage book 3: Angelus! Priere aux anges gardiens (Henle 4)

Pilgrimage book 2: Il Penseroso (Henle 4/5)
Pilgrimage book 3: Marche funebre (Henle 5)
Pilgrimage book 1: Pastorale (Henle 5/6)
Pilgrimage book 1: Le mal du pays (Henle 5/6)
Pilgrimage book 2: Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa (Henle 5/6)
Pilgrimage book 3: Aux Cypres de la Villa d’Este 1 and 2 (Henle 5/6)
Pilgrimage book 3: Sunt lacrymae rerum en mode hongrois (Henle 5/6)

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Annee De Pelerinage – Book 1: Suisse
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Rafael Joseffy. Piano Collection. Romantic, Classical. 72 pages. G. Schirmer #LB910. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.50256890).
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Annees de Pelerinage – “Italie” Suite
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Rafael Joseffy. Piano Collection. Classical Period. Collection. With standard notation, fingerings and introductory text (does not include words to the songs). 55 pages. G. Schirmer #LB911. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.50256900).
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Annees de Pelerinage, Troisieme Annee
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Ernst Herttrich. Piano (Harpsichord), 2-hands. Henle Music Folios. Pages: VIII and 49. Classical. Softcover. 60 pages. G. Henle #HN175. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480175).

Easiest Liszt Pieces: Hungarian pieces

Liszt’s Five Hungarian Folk Songs (S. 245) are doable for the advancing student at around level 8, but still not remotely easy.

The remainder of his Hungarian tunes are the various Hungarian Rhapsodies, which are some of the highest level pieces out there. Henle ranks them between 8/9, which is extremely difficult repertoire.

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Rhapsodies Hongroises – Book 1: Nos. 1 – 8
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Rafael Joseffy. Piano Collection. Rhapsody, Hungarian, Classical, Romantic. 92 pages. G. Schirmer #LB1033. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.50257480).
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Rhapsodies Hongroises – Book 2: Nos. 9 – 15
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Rafael Joseffy. Piano Collection. Rhapsody, Hungarian, Classical, Romantic. 120 pages. G. Schirmer #LB1034. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.50257490).

Easiest Liszt Pieces: Consolations

Of some consolation to us commonfolk trying to learn Liszt’s music are his Consolations (S. 172). By no means easy, some of them are at least accessible.

The first Consolation is the easiest, at an RCM grade 8 level (early advanced) – Henle ranks this one as level 4. Probably the most popular Consolation is the third one, which is more difficult at an RCM grade 10 level – Henle ranks this one as level 4/5.

There are 6 consolations in total, and they progress in difficulty from Henle level 4 to level 5/6, so if you’re an early-advanced student, you might want to check this collection out.

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Liszt — Six Consolations
Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Maurice Hinson. Book; CD; Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork CD Edition. Masterwork; Romantic. 24 pages. Published by Alfred Music (AP.37144).

Liszt’s Little piano pieces, s. 192

Another approachable collection is Liszt’s Five Piano Pieces (S. 192). These don’t exist on Henle or the RCM syllabus, but they’re probably all around a grade 7-8 level. These might even be the best gateway pieces to Liszt, as they’re potentially the easiest.

Valses oubliees S 215

Next up are Liszt’s Forgotten Waltzes (Valses oubliees, S. 215). This is a collection of four waltzes that are around a Grade 10 – ARCT level in the RCM.

Henle ranks these between level 6/7 to level 7, so they’re quite challenging. I’d avoid these unless you’re a pretty advanced student.

The exception might possibly be with the first valse, which also happens to be the most popular – it’s the easiest of the bunch (but still advanced at a Grade 10 level).

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Valses oubliees
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Peter Jost. Henle Music Folios. Classical. Softcover. 52 pages. G. Henle #HN977. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480977).

Easiest Liszt Pieces: Liebestraume

Liszt’s Liebestraume are great! I did an analysis video on these a while back, so check that out if you’d like to get into more depth on these. They’re definitely worth checking out.

…But are any easy?

Nope. The most doable one is the second, Seliger Tod, at a Henle level 5/6 (probably around RCM grade 10). The third Liebestraum is the most famous, but also the most difficult of the set, at a Henle level 6/7. Avoid these until you’re well into the advanced levels.

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Liebestraume, 3 Notturnos
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Ernst-Gunter Heinemann and Ernst-G. Piano (Harpsichord), 2-hands. Henle Music Folios. Pages: III and 19. Classical. Softcover. 24 pages. G. Henle #HN634. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480634).

Harmonies poetiques et religieuses

Liszt’s collection of short pieces, his Religious and Poetic Harmonies, is one of the only approachable collections for late intermediate-early advanced students, and has some of his “simplest” pieces.

Among those are:

Pater noster (Henle level 4)
Ave Maria (Henle level 5)
Hymne de l’enfant a son reveil (Henle level 5/6)

Funerailles, which is quite well-known, is also very difficult at an FRSM level (ABRSM), and a Henle level 7.

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Harmonies Poetiques/relig.
Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). EMB. 72 pages. Editio Musica Budapest #Z12312. Published by Editio Musica Budapest (HL.50511679).

Easiest Liszt Pieces: Other misc works

There are also some individual pieces from Liszt worth mentioning.

Nuages gris (gray clouds, S. 199) is awesome and moody and probably around an RCM grade 7 level. If I were to guess the Henle ranking (this piece isn’t on Henle), I’d say around 3/4.

Abschied (Farewell, S. 251) is also around an RCM grade 7 level, is only two pages, and has a lovely (but mournful) character. It’s worth checking out.

Some other famous individual pieces, like Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz no. 1, is out of reach at an ARCT (RCM) level.

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Liszt: The Final Years for Piano – Late Period Compositions
Piano Solo Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics Vol. 1845. Composed by Franz Liszt (1811-1886). Edited by Joseph Prostakoff. Piano Collection. Fugue, Baroque, Toccata, Classical. 162 pages. G. Schirmer #LB1845. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.50262220).

Summary of the easiest Liszt pieces

Nuages gris, gray clouds, S. 199 (estimate around Henle 3/4 and RCM grade 7)
Abschied, farewell S. 251 (estimate around Henle 3/4 and RCM grade 7)
Five Piano Pieces, S. 192 (estimate around a grade 7-8 level, or Henle 4)
Pilgrimage book 3: Angelus! Priere aux anges gardiens (Henle 4)
Consolation #1 (Henle 4, RCM grade 8)
Pater noster (Henle level 4) – harmonies poetiques et religieuses
Pilgrimage book 2: Il Penseroso (Henle 4/5)
Pilgrimage book 3: Marche funebre (Henle 5)
Ave Maria (Henle level 5) – harmonies poetiques et religieuses

Conclusion

I know there really aren’t any “easy” Liszt pieces, but hopefully this list gets you started if you’re an intermediate or advanced-level student.

xo,
Allysia