The Easiest Haydn Pieces (And the Most Difficult)

Here’s our latest installment for the “easiest of” series. We’ve done many other composers, including Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven, and Debussy, but haven’t yet talked about the easiest Haydn pieces.

Many moons ago we did a Haydn history video, as well as some of my top musical picks from Haydn. It’s high time we approach his piano music and chart a learning path!

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.

I like to use all three of these classification systems because not every Haydn tune is on the RCM syllabus, or the ABRSM syllabus, or on Henle’s website.

Easiest Haydn Pieces: Categories

I find it useful to divide Haydn’s music into distinct categories, which we’ll discuss in turn. Haydn is one of the rare composers who has pieces from a beginner level (grade 1) all the way up to an advanced level (ARCT).

This list doesn’t cover every single piano composition of Haydn, but it covers what I consider to be his core repertoire.

German Dances

Minuets

Variations

Sonatas

Fantasia

Easiest Haydn Pieces: German Dances

Let’s start by talking about Haydn’s German Dances, which are among the easiest repertoire of Haydn’s.

His sets of German Dances have individual pieces that range in difficulty from grade 1 to grade 6 or so. Henle ranks them around level 2/3. Here are the easiest ones, ranked according to the RCM:

German Dance in D major, Hob IX:22, no 2: Grade 1 RCM

German Dance in G major, Hob IX:22, no 3: Grade 1 RCM

German Dance in G major, Hob IX:12, no. 7: Grade 2 RCM

German Dance in B flat major, Hob IX:22, no. 5: Grade 2 RCM

German Dance in G major, Hob IX:12, no. 1: Grade 2 RCM

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Dances and Marches for Piano
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Edited by Gunter Thomas and G. Piano (Harpsichord), 2-hands. Henle Music Folios. Pages: V and 32. Classical. Softcover. 36 pages. G. Henle #HN617. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480617).

Easiest Haydn Pieces: Minuets

Haydn’s minuets aren’t super well-known, and are largely based on transcriptions of some of his instrumental works. Check them out if you’re looking for some easy piano repertoire and you like Haydn.

Minuets Hob. IX:3: Henle level 2

Minuets Hob. IX:8: Henle level 2/3

Minuets Hob. IX:11: Henle level ¾

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Dances and Marches for Piano
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Edited by Gunter Thomas and G. Piano (Harpsichord), 2-hands. Henle Music Folios. Pages: V and 32. Classical. Softcover. 36 pages. G. Henle #HN617. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480617).

Variations

Haydn’s variations vary wildly in difficulty, starting at an intermediate range and going up to advanced levels.

The easiest set of variations is his 5th set in C, and the most difficult (and most well-known) are his F minor variations, at a DipABRSM level.

The piano variations in A have 19 variations on an original theme, and it’s pretty fast-paced. The Eb variations is much more challenging, with lots of articulation and phrasing to pay attention to.

Piano Variations in C, Hob. XVII:5: Henle level 3/4 (around grade 5/6)

Piano Variations in A, Hob. XVII:2: Henle level 4/5 (around grade 7/8)

Piano Variations in E flat, Hob. XVII:3: Henle level 4/5 (around grade 9/10)

Piano Variations in F minor, Hob. XVII:6: Henle level 6/7, DipABRSM

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Piano Pieces – Piano Variations
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Edited by Sonja Gerlach. Piano (Harpsichord), 2-hands. Henle Music Folios. Pages: 68. Classical. Softcover. 130 pages. G. Henle #HN224. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480224).

Easiest Haydn Pieces: Sonatas

This is where the main bulk of Haydn’s piano output can be found, so we’ll spend a little bit of time talking about these. I’ve listed the vast majority of Haydn’s sonatas here, which isn’t something I usually do for these videos – but since this is such a big genre for him, it seemed important to list.

It’s important to note that sonatas are multi-movement works, and a full sonata is going to be much more challenging than individual movements.

We’ll talk about the easiest individual movements to start trying, but we’ll also discuss the difficulty of some of his sonatas as a whole. In general, individual movements range in difficulty from grade 4 to grade 10. Whole movements range from grade 7 to ARCT.

Easy sonatas

One of the easiest sonatas to play in its entirety is his 7th sonata – it has block chords and is quite short. An intermediate student could tackle this.

The finale of his 9th sonata is very well-known, and is pretty easy to play overall – this would be great for an early intermediate student (though the whole sonata is more difficult.

Haydn’s Hob. XVI:1 sonata could be accomplished in its entirety by an early-advanced student around level 7-8. His Hob. XVI:3 collection is of a similar difficulty as well.

Sonata in G Major: Hob XVI:8: Henle level 3 (1st, 3rd and 4th movement are RCM grade 5, ABRSM grade 4)

Sonata in G major, Hob XVI:G1: Henle level 3 (1st movement RCM grade 6, 3rd movement RCM grade 7)

Sonata in F major, Hob. XVI:9: Henle level 3/4 (3rd movement is RCM grade 4)

Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI:7: Henle level 3/4, around grade 6

Sonata in C major: Hob XVI:3: Henle level 3/4 (Minuetto and Trio movement is RCM grade 6)

Sonata in C major, Hob XVI:1: Henle level 3/4 (2nd movement is RCM grade 7)

Intermediate sonatas

With the exception of a couple individual movements, most of these sonatas are between around a grade 8-10 level – suitable for advancing students.

His XVI:4 sonata is, as a whole, a little more difficult still – but still good for an early advanced student. Definitely check out the first movement, it’s lots of fun.

Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI:10: Henle level 4 (1st movement is RCM grade 5)

Sonata in D major: Hob XVI:4: Henle level 4 (2nd movement is RCM grade 6)

Sonata in D major, Hob XVII:D1: Henle level 4 (3rd movement RCM grade 7, 1st movement RCM grade 8)

Sonata in B flat major, Hob. XVI:2, Henle level 4 (1st movement RCM grade 9)

Sonata in E major, Hob. XVI:13: Henle level 4/5

Sonata in A major, Hob. XVI:12: Henle level 4/5 (RCM grade 9)

Sonata in D major, Hob. XVI:14: Henle level 4/5

Sonata in E flat major, Hob. XVI:16: Henle level 4/5

Sonata in E minor, Hob. XVI:47, Henle level 4/5

Sonata in A major, Hob. XVI:5, Henle level 5 (1st movement RCM grade 9)

Sonata in G major, Hob. XVI:6: Henle level 5

Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI:35: Henle level 5 (RCM grade 10)

Sonata in E major, Hob. XVI:22: Henle level 5

Advanced sonatas

Haydn’s advanced sonatas go as far as Henle level 6/7 (the highest level in Henle’s ranking system is 9). So these aren’t the most difficult pieces that exist for piano, but they’re pretty challenging and between an RCM grade 10-ARCT level.

The 23rd sonata is a great one to listen to, and like most Haydn pieces, is a lot of fun to play. The slow Adagio section is particularly lovely. His 27th sonata is a little easier, and is pretty well-known if you want to go for some standard Haydn. His 34th sonata is around the same level and is probably even more well-known.

The 1st movement of Haydn’s 37th sonata is very well-known – I played it for my grade 9 RCM exam. It’s just so cute and quirky.

Sonata in G major, Hob. XVI:27: Henle level 5/6 (2nd movement is RCM grade 7, 3rd movement is RCM grade 8)

Sonata in D major, Hob. XVI:37: Henle level 5/6 (RCM grade 9, ABRSM DipABRSM)

Sonata in E minor, Hob. XVI:34 (RCM grade 9)

Sonata in B flat major, Hob. XVI:18, Henle level 5/6

Sonata in D major, Hob. XVI:19: Henle level 5/6 (1st and 2nd movements RCM grade 10)

Sonata in G minor, Hob. XVI:44: Henle level 5/6 (1st and 2nd movements RCM grade 10)

Sonata in A major, XVI:26, Henle level 5/6

Sonata in A major, Hob. XVI:30: Henle level 5/6

Sonata in E flat major, Hob. XVI:28: Henle level 6 (3rd movement is RCM grade 7)

Sonata in F major, Hob. XVI:23: Henle level 6 (RCM grade 9, ABRSM grade 7)

Sonata in G major, Hob. XVI:39: Henle level 6 (ABRSM LRSM, 1st movement RCM grade 8)

Sonata in C# minor, Hob. XVI:36: Henle level 6 (RCM grade 10)

Sonata in A flat major, Hob. XVI:46: Henle level 6 (ABRSM DipABRSM, RCM grade 10)

Sonata in D major, Hob. XVI:24, Henle level 6

Sonata in E flat major, XVI:25, Henle level 6

Sonata in F major, Hob. XVI:29: Henle level 6

Sonata in E major, Hob. XVI:31: Henle level 6

Sonata in E flat major, Hob. XVI:38, Henle level 6

Sonata in D major, Hob XVI:51: RCM grade 10

Sonata in D major, Hob XVI:33: RCM grade 10

Sonata in B minor, Hob. XVI:32: Henle level 6/7 (RCM grade 10)

Sonata, Hob. XVI:45: Henle level 6/7

Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI:21: Henle level 6/7

Sonata in C minor, Hob. XVI:20: Henle level 6/7 (RCM ARCT)

Sonata in C major “English”, Hob XVI:50: RCM ARCT

Sonata in E flat major, Hob XVI:52: RCM ARCT

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Complete Piano Sonatas, Volume I
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Edited by Georg Feder. Piano (Harpsichord), 2-hands. Henle Music Folios. Urtext edition-paper bound. Baroque. Collection (softcover). With introductory text and fingerings. 190 pages. G. Henle #HN238. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480238).
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Complete Piano Sonatas, Volume II
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Edited by Georg Feder. Piano (Harpsichord), 2-hands. Henle Music Folios. Urtext edition-paper bound. Classical. Collection (softcover). With introductory text. 202 pages. G. Henle #HN240. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480240).
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Complete Piano Sonatas, Volume III
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Edited by Georg Feder. Piano (Harpsichord), 2-hands. Henle Music Folios. Urtext edition-paper bound. Classical. Collection (softcover). With introductory text. 122 pages. G. Henle #HN242. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480242).

Fantasia

Haydn’s Fantasia is worth mentioning as an advanced piece because it’s a neat little piece that showcases some of Haydn’s early experiments with the piano. Haydn did a lot of his keyboard writing on the harpsichord, but in the late 1780s began to play around with actual pianos. This fantasia is the result of said playing.

Fantasia C major (Capriccio) Hob. XVII:4: Henle 6/7

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Piano Pieces – Piano Variations
Piano Solo. Composed by Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809). Edited by Sonja Gerlach. Piano (Harpsichord), 2-hands. Henle Music Folios. Pages: 68. Classical. Softcover. 130 pages. G. Henle #HN224. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480224).

Easiest Haydn Pieces Summary

So to summarize, I’ve compiled a list of the easiest Haydn pieces. This list includes individual movements from the sonatas, since the whole sonatas themselves are more difficult. However, I tried to balance those individual pieces with easier sonatas overall.

This list could take a relative beginner at a grade 1 level through the various beginner and intermediate stages of Haydn. After this point, you could start exploring his late intermediate and early advanced sonatas, and finally progress to his more difficult sonatas.

German Dances, Hob IX:22 and Hob IV:12 (Grades 1-3 RCM)

-Start with German Dance in D major, Hob IX:22, no. 2 and no. 3 (Grade 1 RCM)

Minuets Hob. IX:3: Henle level 2

Minuets Hob. IX:8: Henle level 2/3

Sonata in G Major: Hob XVI:8: Henle level 3 (1st, 3rd and 4th movement are RCM grade 5, ABRSM grade 4)

Sonata in F major, Hob. XVI:9: Henle level 3/4 (3rd movement is RCM grade 4)

Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI:10: Henle level 4 (1st movement is RCM grade 5)

Piano Variations in C, Hob. XVII:5: Henle level 3/4 (around grade 5/6)

Sonata in G major, Hob XVI:G1: Henle level 3 (1st movement RCM grade 6, 3rd movement RCM grade 7)

Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI:7: Henle level 3/4, around grade 6

Sonata in C major: Hob XVI:3: Henle level 3/4 (Minuetto and Trio movement is RCM grade 6)

Happy Haydn-ing!

xo,

Allysia