Hardest Piano Piece

It's only cool if no one's heard of it.

Moderators: SecondTalon, Moderators General, Prelates

The_Mexican
Posts: 30
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:39 pm UTC

Hardest Piano Piece

Postby The_Mexican » Sun Nov 21, 2010 2:37 am UTC

I was wondering what you guys thought the hardest piano piece to play is. In my opinion, it's a tie between Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee and Beethoven's 3rd Movement of The Moonlight Sonata.

User avatar
Blatm
Posts: 638
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:43 am UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Blatm » Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:33 am UTC

I don't play piano, but this seems like it would be a bit tough.

User avatar
poxic
Eloquently Prismatic
Posts: 4751
Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:28 am UTC
Location: Left coast of Canada

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby poxic » Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:46 am UTC

Blatm wrote:I don't play piano, but this seems like it would be a bit tough.

Oh dear lord.

It would be nifty to hear this played on a real piano, though it would require mechanised key-pushing (something like this).
A man who is 'ill-adjusted' to the world is always on the verge of finding himself. One who is adjusted to the world never finds himself, but gets to be a cabinet minister.
- Hermann Hesse, novelist, poet, Nobel laureate (2 Jul 1877-1962)

hyrrn
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 4:43 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby hyrrn » Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:16 pm UTC

Reich's Piano Phase played solo is probably pretty hard.

User avatar
Briareos
Posts: 1940
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:40 pm UTC
Location: Town of the Big House

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Briareos » Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:22 pm UTC

I'll go with an old standard: Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 (d minor). The whole thing is pretty much ridiculous, but especially the third movement.
Sandry wrote:Bless you, Briareos.

Blriaraisghaasghoasufdpt.
Oregonaut wrote:Briareos is my new bestest friend.

achan1058
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby achan1058 » Sun Nov 21, 2010 7:27 pm UTC

I thought it would have been this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjUiN4zr ... re=related

Rach 3 isn't that hard. I can play the first 24 measures. :lol: Seriously though, I think Godowsky's Chopin Etudes would give Rach 3 a good run for its money.

User avatar
Jar'O'Jam
Posts: 321
Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:33 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Jar'O'Jam » Sun Nov 21, 2010 7:57 pm UTC

Sorry for breaking the seriousness around here, but no thread like this is complete without "Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz".
Image
Agronica - my musical outlet for the past couple of years - give it a listen at Soundcloud

The_Mexican
Posts: 30
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:39 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby The_Mexican » Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:41 pm UTC

Jar'O'Jam wrote:Sorry for breaking the seriousness around here, but no thread like this is complete without "Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz".


Holy jesus.

But seriously, I meant something that's an actual piece lol.

User avatar
cjmcjmcjmcjm
Posts: 1158
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:15 am UTC
Location: Anywhere the internet is strong

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Mon Nov 22, 2010 7:02 am UTC

I'm not a pianist, but I've heard stories about Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji's Opus Clavicembalisticum
frezik wrote:Anti-photons move at the speed of dark

DemonDeluxe wrote:Paying to have laws written that allow you to do what you want, is a lot cheaper than paying off the judge every time you want to get away with something shady.

User avatar
phlip
Restorer of Worlds
Posts: 7572
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 3:56 am UTC
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby phlip » Mon Nov 22, 2010 7:20 am UTC

Jar'O'Jam wrote:Sorry for breaking the seriousness around here, but no thread like this is complete without "Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz".

You're missing the second page.

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
[he/him/his]

User avatar
Phill
Posts: 226
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2008 4:36 pm UTC
Location: Colchester, UK
Contact:

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Phill » Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:26 pm UTC

Hmmm, the third movement of the moonlight sonata is hard but probably not impossibly so. Something played at speed isn't necessarily hard. I'd say Chopin's Fantasy Improptu was probably harder.

As for most difficult pieces... impossible to say, but I'll add to the list Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.

User avatar
BurningLed
Posts: 561
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:42 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby BurningLed » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:34 pm UTC

There's OSTER Project's Etude - Demon Fire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uLdLDoEjIU

Phill wrote:Hmmm, the third movement of the moonlight sonata is hard but probably not impossibly so. Something played at speed isn't necessarily hard. I'd say Chopin's Fantasy Improptu was probably harder.


Depends on whether you define "learning" a song as learning how to play it at all or learning how to play it dynamically and smoothly. Third movement of Moonlight sonata is hard to get down the notes for, but the dynamics and tempo changes on Fantasie-Impromptu are really hard to master even once you can play the song through.
Axman wrote:Some people blow their cash on watches that they show off to people who think said watches make a person cool. Some people spend a weekend buying everyone fake gifts in a game of make-believe.
I think the latter group is awesome.

User avatar
Euphonium
Posts: 162
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:17 pm UTC
Location: in ur bourgeois bosses' union, agitating ur workers

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Euphonium » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:24 am UTC

Mikrokosmos no. 153?

User avatar
Midnight
Posts: 2170
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:53 am UTC
Location: Twixt hither and thither. Ergo, Jupiter.

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Midnight » Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:32 pm UTC

the cadenza in prokofiev's 2nd concerto?

otherwise, it's probably something by Rachmaninoff. The guy played and composed like a Russian war machine, powered by coal and vodka.
uhhhh fuck.

User avatar
BurningLed
Posts: 561
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:42 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby BurningLed » Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:25 am UTC

Midnight wrote:It's probably something by Rachmaninoff. The guy played and composed like a Russian war machine, powered by coal and vodka.


Sig'd.
Axman wrote:Some people blow their cash on watches that they show off to people who think said watches make a person cool. Some people spend a weekend buying everyone fake gifts in a game of make-believe.
I think the latter group is awesome.

User avatar
balderduck
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:54 pm UTC
Location: right here
Contact:

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby balderduck » Thu Nov 25, 2010 1:09 pm UTC

Hence the song:

Ra Ra Rachmaninof Russia's craziest piano machine

Well in conservatory it was widely considered that Rachmaninov's 3rd concerto is the most difficult piano piece. Of course that's subjective.
Image
"Luther...I think I've contracted left-handedness..."
- Mister Sloordge, Balderduck

User avatar
Midnight
Posts: 2170
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:53 am UTC
Location: Twixt hither and thither. Ergo, Jupiter.

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Midnight » Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:11 am UTC

I googled " Ra Ra Rachmaninof Russia's craziest piano machine" and this thread was the first to show up.
uhhhh fuck.

User avatar
balderduck
Posts: 83
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:54 pm UTC
Location: right here
Contact:

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby balderduck » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:56 am UTC

*tears of hapiness*
Image
"Luther...I think I've contracted left-handedness..."
- Mister Sloordge, Balderduck

User avatar
Blatm
Posts: 638
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:43 am UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Blatm » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:22 pm UTC

balderduck wrote:Hence the song:

Ra Ra Rachmaninof Russia's craziest piano machine




User avatar
Jave D
chavey-dee
Posts: 1042
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:41 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Jave D » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:45 pm UTC

Oh hmm.

Rachmaninoff's Etude Op. 39 No. 6

(There's another version around there that she plays even more insanely fast.)

This one is also damn tricky. Not that Ravel, who only had ten fingers, can stop Valentina. That woman is amazing.

black_hat_guy
Posts: 111
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:34 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby black_hat_guy » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:45 am UTC

There are different types of difficulty in pieces. A lot of these pieces are difficult because they are very fast, whereas some, such as the Death Waltz, are not extremely fast, but require pressing a lot of keys at the same time (ignoring the fact that in order to even be physically able to play the Death Waltz, one must have obscenely large hands.) On a more exotic note, I can see having a piece that is difficult because of weird dynamics, pedal techniques, or something like that.
Billy was a chemist.
He isn't any more.
What he thought was H2O
was H2SO4.

bobbygreencheese
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:16 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby bobbygreencheese » Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:26 pm UTC

For "flat out ridiculous" I always turn to Ferneyhough:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJwxKxJVps4

The piece actually sounds quite pretty (if you don't look at the score!!)

User avatar
BurningLed
Posts: 561
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:42 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby BurningLed » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:46 am UTC

bobbygreencheese wrote:For "flat out ridiculous" I always turn to Ferneyhough:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJwxKxJVps4

The piece actually sounds quite pretty (if you don't look at the score!!)


It's actually really beautiful as a sort of ambient music -- Something along the lines of listening to water droplets and bat's wings in a cave, but translated to the piano.

Spoilered for excessive cursing:
Spoiler:
OH MY GOD IS HE ACTIVELY FUCKING ATTEMPTING TO EARN THE NUMBER ONE GORRUM' SPOT ON THE HIT LIST OF EVERY PIANIST WHO EVEN FUCKING THINKS OF ATTEMPTING HIS SONG?


Actually, he probably was, just to make it that more of a satisfaction to complete for the pianist. Plus, it is aesthetically pleasing artistically, just horribly difficult to read.
Axman wrote:Some people blow their cash on watches that they show off to people who think said watches make a person cool. Some people spend a weekend buying everyone fake gifts in a game of make-believe.
I think the latter group is awesome.

User avatar
SirMustapha
Posts: 1302
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 6:07 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby SirMustapha » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:18 pm UTC

That composition sort of reminds me of Xenakis' stuff. I didn't listen to the whole thing, but it seems Ferneyhough is trying to do something actually beautiful, whereas Xenakis always aimed for scientific rigour and true randomness. As far as difficulty of playing goes, that piece must be near the piano part of Xenakis's Eonta -- with the difference that Eonta seems to purposefully try not to make any fucking sense.

I didn't know Ferneyhough. I really like that piece.

User avatar
Dream
WINNING
Posts: 4338
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 7:20 pm UTC
Location: The Hollow Scene Epic

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Dream » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:18 pm UTC

About Xenakis, I'd say he might be the composer furthest from randomness without being a serialist. His scores are exquisitely constructed, and the very literally architectural forms he used are among the most deliberate in modern music.
I knew a woman once, but she died soon after.

User avatar
SirMustapha
Posts: 1302
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 6:07 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby SirMustapha » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:51 pm UTC

Dream wrote:About Xenakis, I'd say he might be the composer furthest from randomness without being a serialist. His scores are exquisitely constructed, and the very literally architectural forms he used are among the most deliberate in modern music.


Forgive me for the pedanticness, but most of his compositions are random, in the sense that he used mathematical formulas and absurdly complex means to guarantee that the note pitches and durations where purely, statistically random. The structures are well thought out, though. He isn't random in the sense that he just did a lot of crap betting that it would pass off as "artistic", but in the sense that he was absurdly anal in doing randomness right. He's pretty hardcore.

Ferneyhough, on the other hand, doesn't care much about rigour and writes more, if you forgive the horrible term, "from the heart". That doesn't make him "better" or "worse", mind: I'm not those who preaches that heart and emotion are the only things that matter in music, nor those who preach a certain kind of "inelligence" in music.

APolaris
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:39 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby APolaris » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:52 pm UTC

I once heard someone claim he'd "proven" that Lizst's original (1837) Transcendental Etudes were the most difficult playable piano pieces ever written. However, since I haven't found peer review of any such proof anywhere, I'm open to the person being wrong.

EDIT: Here's a typical example of a "simplified" 1852 version. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfN7xf6JymQ
Last edited by APolaris on Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:52 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Midnight
Posts: 2170
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:53 am UTC
Location: Twixt hither and thither. Ergo, Jupiter.

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Midnight » Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:13 am UTC

BurningLed wrote:
bobbygreencheese wrote:For "flat out ridiculous" I always turn to Ferneyhough:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJwxKxJVps4

The piece actually sounds quite pretty (if you don't look at the score!!)


It's actually really beautiful as a sort of ambient music -- Something along the lines of listening to water droplets and bat's wings in a cave, but translated to the piano.

Spoilered for excessive cursing:
Spoiler:
OH MY GOD IS HE ACTIVELY FUCKING ATTEMPTING TO EARN THE NUMBER ONE GORRUM' SPOT ON THE HIT LIST OF EVERY PIANIST WHO EVEN FUCKING THINKS OF ATTEMPTING HIS SONG?


Actually, he probably was, just to make it that more of a satisfaction to complete for the pianist. Plus, it is aesthetically pleasing artistically, just horribly difficult to read.


i feel like that piece is just ridiculous to READ cause he notates out every last trill and such. Where another composer might write a glissando, this guy is writing every single note in the chromatic scale, as 64th notes.
uhhhh fuck.

User avatar
Various Varieties
Posts: 505
Joined: Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:24 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Various Varieties » Sat Jan 08, 2011 11:34 pm UTC

Blatm wrote:I don't play piano, but this seems like it would be a bit tough.

Jar'O'Jam wrote:Sorry for breaking the seriousness around here, but no thread like this is complete without "Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz".

I recently came across a blog post by the nephew of Death Waltz's composer John Stump, talking about some of his memories of his uncle. The post also contains high-res images of a couple of his other, equally difficult to play scores.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:17 am UTC

phlip wrote:
Jar'O'Jam wrote:Sorry for breaking the seriousness around here, but no thread like this is complete without "Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz".

You're missing the second page.

Those are from two different pieces; note the change double bar at the end of the first page and the completely different instrumentation in the second (only noticed this due to VV's link).
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

User avatar
phlip
Restorer of Worlds
Posts: 7572
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 3:56 am UTC
Location: Australia
Contact:

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby phlip » Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:47 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:the completely different instrumentation in the second.

I always assumed that was just there to compound the ridiculousness of the score... interesting to know that's not actually the case...

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
[he/him/his]

Outis
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:29 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Outis » Tue Jan 11, 2011 2:10 pm UTC

I would definitely say a contemporary piano piece--Rachmaninoff and the others are hard, but certainly not unplayable for a typical concert pianist.

Perhaps something by Xenakis, Boulez, or Stockhausen?

User avatar
Midnight
Posts: 2170
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:53 am UTC
Location: Twixt hither and thither. Ergo, Jupiter.

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Midnight » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:38 pm UTC

I guess that, especially with the stockhausen pieces, it's carefully constructed to sound random. As with Xenakis. So you could record a five year old messing around, and transcribe it, and it'd be difficult for Vladmir Horowitz to play it, cause it's difficult to sightread and random. Whereas a Rachmaninoff or Liszt piece doesn't really sound random, but is challenging simply because it's fast with huge chords and the like.

I worry, though, that getting into this type of discussion will turn into someone translating the above paragraph as "those fuckers aren't REAL music", which I definitely am NOT saying. I just think they're harder to read, harder to conceptualize, but probably not more difficult to actually play. Same with that Brian Ferneyhough piece up higher, where he carefully transcribes every trill and gliss. A chromatic descent looks a lot more difficult when it's every note written out, I think.
uhhhh fuck.

User avatar
BurningLed
Posts: 561
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:42 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby BurningLed » Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:11 am UTC

Contemporary pieces like Griebling's Toccata, and the aforementioned Xenakis and Ferneyhough definitely throw a pianist for a loop with a beat that's much harder to pick out, or nonexistent; but they're definitely not harder to actually play (discounting stuff like Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz.)
Axman wrote:Some people blow their cash on watches that they show off to people who think said watches make a person cool. Some people spend a weekend buying everyone fake gifts in a game of make-believe.
I think the latter group is awesome.

Outis
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:29 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Outis » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:57 pm UTC

It seems to me that if a piece throws "a pianist for a loop with a beat that's much harder to pick out," that's a perfectly valid way for a piece to be more difficult; difficulty isn't only derived from being "fast with huge chords and the like." Rhythmic or tonal complexity--which might sound like randomness when you listen to a performance--are other ways that a piece might be difficult to play.

You can certainly record a five year old messing around and it could be unplayable. If you wanted to, you could easily write an unplayable piece of music by making chords no pianist could reach, ridiculous choices of tempo, or any number of other ways. But that's not the case for the contemporary pieces: Stockhausen's Klavierstucke X, which I linked to above, was commissioned to be performed at a festival, so while it is a highly technically demanding study of variable form, it was certainly not designed to be unplayably difficult.

Of course, it's a reasonable question to ask what pieces in the standard repertoire are the most difficult, eliminating contemporary works like the Stockhausen, in which case I would agree that Rachmaninoff's 3rd Piano Concerto and Prokofiev's 2nd Piano Concerto are excellent choices.

User avatar
BurningLed
Posts: 561
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:42 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby BurningLed » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:38 pm UTC

When I say difficult to play, I mean difficult to play consistently. After one has learned a contemporary piece, and picked out the beat, it becomes much easier to play. But things like Revolutionary Etude and Rachmaninoff's 3rd are always difficult to play, even after much practice -- it might be that we just define "difficult" differently. Those pieces rely on finger dexterity and a sense of dynamics, which are "general" piano skills that are always being used and trained; they apply to every song. Contemporary pieces are more difficult to learn as single pieces, but aren't as taxing on "general" skill.

Actually, I don't think I can define any of those as difficulty -- Complexity of beat, finger dexterity, dynamics, etc. Some songs are more difficult than others, but after a certain point they're all just really difficult on their own, and comparing them is apples to oranges.
Axman wrote:Some people blow their cash on watches that they show off to people who think said watches make a person cool. Some people spend a weekend buying everyone fake gifts in a game of make-believe.
I think the latter group is awesome.

User avatar
John Citizen
Posts: 23
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:25 pm UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby John Citizen » Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:41 am UTC

Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G minor
Rhapsody in Blue (piano solo version)
Both of these pieces are exceedingly difficult to play.

User avatar
cjmcjmcjmcjm
Posts: 1158
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:15 am UTC
Location: Anywhere the internet is strong

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:03 pm UTC

Phill wrote:As for most difficult pieces... impossible to say, but I'll add to the list Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.

IIRC, that's the basis for a TSO song.

Anyway, I'm surprised that we aren't showing Sorabji any love (or hate!)
frezik wrote:Anti-photons move at the speed of dark

DemonDeluxe wrote:Paying to have laws written that allow you to do what you want, is a lot cheaper than paying off the judge every time you want to get away with something shady.

Charlemagne_
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:47 am UTC

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Charlemagne_ » Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:07 am UTC

Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu springs to mind, as does Carl Vine's piano sonata No. 1, Ravel's Jeux De'au and Ravel's Alborada Del Gracioso.
If I thought about for a while longer, or had a look through my music library I'm sure I could find some more.

User avatar
Clumpy
Posts: 1883
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 4:48 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Hardest Piano Piece

Postby Clumpy » Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:12 am UTC

Phill wrote:Hmmm, the third movement of the moonlight sonata is hard but probably not impossibly so. Something played at speed isn't necessarily hard. I'd say Chopin's Fantasy Improptu was probably harder.

As for most difficult pieces... impossible to say, but I'll add to the list Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.


I played the Fantaisie Impromptu a couple of years back for some sort of County Music Teacher's Association thing, and it's pretty damn hard. I've seen it played at some pretty crazy speeds as well that I could never manage.


Return to “Music”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests