In today’s episode of PianoTV, I want to discuss the easiest Mozart pieces, and the ones to avoid until you’re very skilled. Mozart’s music spans the entire range of difficulty levels – from grade 1 all the way to ARCT.
If you’ve been wanting to learn some Mozart but don’t know where to start, this should be helpful to you. This is where I start my students off with Mozart as well, so I’ve test-driven these pieces in real life.
I’ll be using the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) for when I refer to “grades” – ABRSM is similar, it just doesn’t go as high. I’ll also make a few comments on the Henle rating system, since some of you find that helpful.
Easiest Mozart: Categories
The easiest way to do this is to divide his pieces into categories. They are as follows:
-Nannerl Music Book
Nannerl music book
The Nannerl Music Book is interesting. Nannerl was Mozart’s older sister, and their father compiled a beginner collection of pieces for her. Later, little Mozart wrote some pieces that were then written down in Nannerl’s Music Book.
What I find so neat is that these pieces were written when Mozart was between the ages of 5-8 years old. Impressive for a small child! His father inevitably helped him write down the actual music, but it’s still quite the accomplishment.
Everything in this book is between a Henle level 1 and 2. In the RCM grade rankings, they all fall between a grade 1 and 5 level.
The easiest pieces in this collection, suitable for someone with several months under their belt, are the following:
Minuet in F major, K2 (grade 1)
Allegro in B flat Major, K3 (grade 1)
Allegro in F major, K1c (grade 2)
Minuet in G major, K1e (grade 2)
Menuetto I in C major, K6 (grade 2)
That being said, many other pieces in this collection are about the same difficulty. This is a great early level book!
Mozart’s Viennese Sonatinas are basically the next step up. Once you can play his early-level pieces, you can start playing around with these intermediate-level sonatinas.
These sonatinas are all between a grade 5 to 8 level (RCM), and serve as a bridge to the more difficult (but more famous) sonatas.
Individual movements from these sonatinas can be fairly easy (from an intermediate standpoint), but playing an entire sonatina, with all its 3-4 movements, does bump up the difficulty level. We’ll take a look at the easiest individual movements here:
Viennese Sonatina in C major, no. 1, 2nd movement (grade 5)
Viennese Sonatina in C major, no. 6, 4th movement (grade 6)
All of the others are a grade 7-8 level.
Mozart wrote a bunch of sonatas, so this is a huge category. They range in difficulty from grade 8 to ARCT (RCM).
In Henle terms, they range from level 5-7. Level 7 is quite difficult, but the Henle system actually goes up a couple more notches to level 9, which is the most difficult piano repertoire that exists. Hopefully this gives you some perspective – Mozart’s sonatas can get very difficult, but not “The Art of Fugue” difficult.
His easiest sonata is by far the K545 sonata. This also happens to be a very famous sonata, and the first one that most students learn. Henle puts it at a level 4/5, the ABRSM at grade 6, and RCM at grade 8.
Sonata in C major, K545 (grade 8 RCM, grade 6 ABRSM, Henle level 4/5)
Sonata F major, KV 280 (grade 10 RCM, Henle level 5)
Sonata C major, KV 309 (284b) (grade 10 RCM, DipABRSM, Henle level 5)
Sonata E flat major, KV 282 (189g) (grade 10 RCM, Henle level 5)
Mozart wrote four Fantasies/Fantasias, which are pieces that are improvised (or they would have been in Mozart’s day). Two of his Fantasias, K396 and K475, appear in the RCM syllabus at a grade 10 level.
The difficulty rankings for them are as follows:
Fantasia in D minor, K397 (Henle level 5/6)
Fantasia in C minor, K475 (RCM grade 10, Henle level 6, ABRSM LRSM)
Fantasia in C minor, K396 (RCM grade 10)
The so-called “easiest” Fantasia in D minor is by far the most famous. I wouldn’t attempt it until you’re an advanced-level pianist, however.
Mozart wrote 3 rondos, two of which exist in the RCM syllabus and Henle music collection. The RCM puts both of them at a grade 10 level. Henle ranks them as follows:
Rondo in D major, K485 (Henle level 5, RCM grade 10)
Rondo in Am, K511 (Henle level 6, ABRSM LRSM, RCM grade 10)
These are on-par with the difficulty level of Mozart’s piano sonatas, and are only really suitable for advanced students.
Mozart has a decent amount of variations for piano. They aren’t as numerous as his sonatas, but there are 16 of them.
They mainly range in difficulty from Henle level 5-6, just like his sonatas and rondos. This means they’re pretty advanced (but not the most difficult piano repertoire that exists).
These variations don’t exist in the RCM syllabus, but they’d be around a grade 10-ARCT level if they were. A couple of the variations are ranked at a DipABRSM level.
Probably the easiest variation is this:
Theme and Variations, KV 460 (Henle level 4/5)
Again, this is only suitable for the early advanced student (or a late intermediate student at a grade 8 level).
Easiest Mozart: Summary
So to sum up the vast majority of Mozart’s piano music, we have:
Nannerl music book (for beginners: level 1-5)
Viennese sonatinas (for intermediate students: level 5-8)
Sonatas, Fantasias, Rondos, Variations (for advanced students, level 8 and beyond)
This is actually a really neat and tidy approach to his piano music – how nice that they work so sequentially! It reminds me of the music of Bach, though Bach’s music starts at a slightly higher difficulty level.
Hope this video/blog was of some help to you!