For today’s Q&A, I decided to learn in a personal direction and talk about the 9 gorgeous piano pieces I would eventually like to learn. These are the pieces for when I’m truly great at piano – a time that might be 10 or 30 or 50 years away.
The pieces that I’m willing to wait a lifetime to learn.
Let’s jump in!
My dream piano pieces
I love this question! I will say that my goals and ambitions have changed a lot over the years – this list would be completely different if I wrote it 10 years ago. But I’ll attempt to answer it nonetheless.
Before we get into this, I want to encourage you to make a “dream piano list” as well – and put it somewhere prominent. That way, if you find your motivation is flagging, you can find a burst of inspiration with your list.
The idea is to dream big! No piece is too challenging.
Piano music eras
I have my dream piano pieces broken up into eras – Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern. They aren’t going to be evenly distributed – there are quite a lot more pieces in the Romantic category. That just reflects my tastes and preferences.
Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (Book 1)
Yes, I’m aware that Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier is much more than one piece. It’s an entire book! But it’s my goal to slowly (SLOWLY!) work my way through Bach’s repertoire, starting with his preludes, then inventions and sinfonias, and finally the first book of his Well-Tempered Clavier.
I have nothing against the second book – I just don’t know it as well. I’m sure it would be fun to learn too.
And yes, there is more challenging Bach beyond the WTC, such as his Toccatas and Fugues, but the WTC 1 tome is the one I really dream of going through. Other Bach pieces are dreams for the further future.
Beethoven Sonata no. 3
I’m not very good at Baroque and Classical music, so I’ve been spending time working on more basic pieces, such as Clementi’s sonatinas.
If I were to pick a sonata, it would be his op. 2 no. 3. I really adore the lighthearted quality of Beethoven’s earlier sonatas, before he got really intense. It’s Beethoven in Classical style, as opposed to Beethoven leaning into the Romantic style.
But his first three sonatas all have a special place in my heart, and I will definitely get to all three one day.
Chopin: op. 66 Fantaisie-Impromptu
There is so much Romantic music I’d love to learn – but I’ll narrow it down. The first choice is probably fairly obvious. Everyone wants to learn Chopin, right? And his op. 66 Fantaisie-Impromptu is so gorgeous and well-known, it’s a bright shining star in Romantic repertoire.
It’s also ferociously difficult, and I plan to work my way through some of Chopin’s other short forms first – like his waltzes, nocturnes, polonaises and so forth.
A lot of people really covet the Ballades, and I like them too, but I don’t really care about ever learning them. Maybe they’ve been overplayed and thus aren’t as exciting to me. But they are really lovely to listen to.
Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody no. 2
Choosing a “dream piece” from Liszt is as challenging as it was for Chopin. But one piece that’s been on my radar for a long, long time is his second Hungarian Rhapsody. This piece is so big, bold and exciting – it’s everything I love about Franz Liszt.
And like the Fantaisie-Impromptu, it’s extremely difficult – it’s not one I’ll be attempting for years.
If I ever learn how to play this one (and can play it half decently), I will officially consider myself to have “made it” as a pianist, whatever that means.
Albeniz: Iberia Suite no. 1
I absolutely love Albeniz and his Spanish virtuosic piano music. And just like with Bach, I don’t want to learn a single piece – I want to learn all three pieces from his first Iberia Suite. And then perhaps, one day, all 12 pieces from all four suites.
The first piece, Evocation, is brooding and atmospheric. The second, El Puerto, is my favorite – it’s playful and has attitude, with a driving rhythm. The third, Fête-dieu à Seville, is a very dramatic march. I love listening to these pieces, so I can’t wait to get to them on the piano.
Another three-piece collection I want to tackle in full is Debussy’s Estampes. They’re just all so good and I like different things about each of them.
I love the dreamy East Asian feel of the first one, “Pagodes“. “La soirée dans Grenade” is Debussy’s take on Spanish music. And “Jardins sous la pluie” is so angsty and intense – I’d love to be able to get my fingers to move that fast.
Ravel: Jeux d’eau
Ravel’s Jeux d’eau is one of my all-time favorite piano compositions. In fact, if I were to narrow this list down to a top three, this one would be on it.
I love that it sounds like water. This piece glistens. It’s all atmosphere, but it’s got some really dramatic moments. And I’m a sucker for pieces with a melody embedded in rapid-fire accompaniment.
Bartok: 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs
Bartok’s 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs have been a favorite of mine for years as well. This 15-minute piano composition is no small feat, but it’d be like learning pieces in theme and variations – a collection of a bunch of miniatures.
The chords and harmonies in this collection are beautiful. Jazzy, almost, but soulful. No one sounds like Bartok – his music is so easy to recognize.
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Gershwin’s solo piano Rhapsody in Blue has been on my radar since I was a teenager. I’m not much for jazz, but if I ever get into it, this will be my crowning glory piece.
It’s so groovy. It’s not too wild for those who are not very jazz-savvy (like myself). And at 15 minutes long and dozens of sheet music pages, it’s quite the musical hurdle.
I hope you enjoyed this look at some of my favorite dream piano pieces! Now it’s your turn – what are yours?