The Easiest Mendelssohn Pieces for Piano (Intermediate/Advanced)

Like we’ve done with so many other composers, we’re going to discuss the easiest Mendelssohn pieces today. We’re going to look at the first of his piano compositions you can get into if you’re looking to get into his music.

Mendelssohn’s piano music starts at an intermediate level, so beginners might want to look elsewhere. His easiest pieces begin at around a grade 6 level, and go all the way up in difficulty to an ARCT (diploma) level.

We’ll touch on Mendelssohn’s most important piano compositions, and which ones are best to start with – and which are best to leave aside until you’re very skilled.

Let’s get started!

Easiest Mendelssohn: Contents

Here are the categories we’ll talk about in turn with Mendelssohn’s music:

Six Children’s Pieces, op. 72

Songs Without Words

Three Fantasies or Cappriccios, op. 16

Three Preludes, op. 104a

Other Pieces

Six Children’s Pieces, op. 72

This collection – not just for children! – is a great starting point with Mendelssohn’s music. The easiest is the first one, Allegro non troppo, at a grade 6 level. The second one, Andante sostenuto, is also in the RCM syllabus at a grade 8 level.

This collection was created for children he was related to and was published shortly after his death. They’re all at a comparable difficulty level (with the 5th and 6th compositions being slightly harder) – meant for the late intermediate or early advanced student.

They’re not quite as famous as his Songs Without Words, which we’ll discuss next, but they’re probably second from the top.

Allegro non troppo, op. 72 no. 1 – RCM Grade 6, Henle 4

Andante sostenuto, op. 72 no. 2 – RCM Grade 8, Henle 4


look inside
Seven Character Pieces, op. 7 / Six Children’s Pieces, op. 72
Composed by Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn (1809-1847). Edited by Holger M. Stuwe. This edition: urtext edition. Paperback. Barenreiter Urtext. Performance score. Opus 7, 72. Baerenreiter Verlag #BA09083. Published by Baerenreiter Verlag (BA.BA09083).

Songs Without Words

Among his most famous piano compositions are his Songs Without Words. They were well-known in his lifetime, too. His Songs Without Words span 8 volumes with 6 pieces each and fall between a grade 7 to ARCT level in difficulty.Included in his Songs Without Words are the very lovely (and very playable!) Boat Songs, inspired by his time in Venice.

Mendelssohn, much like Chopin, resisted putting titles on his compositions, wanting to leave interpretation open-ended. That’s why you have a bunch of pieces called Songs Without Words, unlike, say, Grieg’s music.

This is what Mendelssohn said on the topic:

“What the music I love expresses to me, is not thought too indefinite to put into words, but on the contrary, too definite.”

Songs Without Words, op. 19 no. 4 – Grade 6 RCM, Henle 4

Consolation, op. 30 no. 3 – Grade 7 RCM, Henle 4

Song without Words (Venetian Gondola Song), op. 19 no. 6 – Henle 4

Venetian Boat Song, op. 30 no. 6 – Grade 7 RCM, Henle 5

Songs Without Words, op. 102 no. 2 – Grade 8 RCM, Henle 5

Songs Without Words, op. 19 no. 2 – Grade 8 RCM, Henle 5

Songs Without Words, op. 62 no. 4 – Grade 8 RCM, Henle 5

Songs Without Words (Spring Song), op. 62 no. 6 – Grade 8 ABRSM, Henle 5


look inside
Songs without words
Songs without words. Composed by Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn (1809-1847). Edited by Rudolf Elvers and Rudolph Evers, Ernst Herttrich. Sheet Music. Paperbound. Henle Music Folios. Urtext edition-paper bound. Classical. Collection (softcover). With introductory text, performance notes and fingerings. 181 pages. G. Henle #HN327. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480327).

Three Fantasies or Cappriccios op. 16

Mendelssohn’s Three Fantasies or Cappriccios are decidedly difficult – if you really must try this collection, start with the third Cappriccio, the easiest at a Henle 5.

Each of these three pieces were inspired by a trip to Wales he took with his friend the Taylor family. Each of the compositions is after each of the three daughters of this family.


look inside
Trois Fantaisies ou Caprices Op. 16
Piano Solo. Composed by Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn (1809-1847). Edited by Rudolf Elvers. Sheet Music. Paperbound. Henle Music Folios. Pages: VI and 16. Classical. Softcover. 32 pages. G. Henle #HN462. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480462).

Three Preludes, op. 104a

Another set left for when you’re at a late-advanced piano level is his Three Preludes. They’re at a Henle level 7 and RCM ARCT level. Though the Henle difficulty scale goes all the way up to Level 9, Level 7 pieces are still prohibitively difficult to most.

Other Pieces

One very difficult, but very beloved, composition of Mendelssohn’s is his Rondo capriccioso, op. 14. Blazingly difficult, it’s an RCM ARCT-level composition, LRCM (ABRSM), and Henle level 7. It was originally referred to as an etude.

It is a beautiful composition and well-worth aspiring to.

He also wrote a beautiful set of variations: Variations sérieuses, op. 54. Like his Rondo capriccioso, it’s very difficult but also very beautiful.

It’s a Henle level 8, an RCM ARCT, and an ABRSM LRSM level.

His op. 34 Prelude and Fugue sets are between a Henle 7 and 8 (ABRSM LRCM).


look inside
Rondo capriccioso, Op. 14
National Federation of Music Clubs 2014-2016 Selection. Composed by Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn (1809-1847). Edited by Ullrich Scheideler. Arranged by Hans-Martin Theopold. Sheet music. Paperbound. Henle Music Folios. Rec. LRSM since 2005: LRSM — ABRSM 2018 remarks: recommended. Classical. Paperbound. 24 pages. G. Henle #HN919. Published by G. Henle (HL.51480919).

Conclusion

Here’s a round-up of the best pieces to start with by Mendelssohn – it’s a straightforward list, as most of his music is beyond the Grade 9 level. Everything listed below is between a Grade 6 to 8 level, meant for the advancing intermediate student:

Allegro non troppo, op. 72 no. 1 – RCM Grade 6, Henle 4

Andante sostenuto, op. 72 no. 2 – RCM Grade 8, Henle 4

Songs Without Words, op. 19 no. 4 – Grade 6 RCM, Henle 4

Consolation, op. 30 no. 3 – Grade 7 RCM, Henle 4

Song without Words (Venetian Gondola Song), op. 19 no. 6 – Henle 4

Venetian Boat Song, op. 30 no. 6 – Grade 7 RCM, Henle 5

I hope you enjoyed this Mendelssohn video – stay tuned for more Mendelssohn videos in the next month or so!

Allysia

 

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