Intermediate Piano Repertoire
February 26, 2014 8:51 AM   Subscribe

I need help finding sheet music to practice! My teacher gives me some things, but I must be picky, because I keep turning my nose up at some classics like The Entertainer, Fur Elise.... They are beautiful songs of course, but I am tired of hearing them! I am open to many styles, but am having a hard time finding stuff that motivates me!

Things that I have liked playing:
-Philip Glass Metamorphosis
-some Yann Tiersen
-Tangos (Por una Cabeza, El choclo, etc.)
-Rumores de la Calageta by Albéniz
-La Comparsa by Ernesto Lecuona
-Solace by Scott Joplin (thanks to a suggestion I saw here)
-some pop stuff I like (Neil Young, Otis Redding, Kinks, Zombies)
-easier Chopin

Things I haven't liked
-Fur Elise
-The Entertainer
-music from the film the piano
-River Flows in You , by Yirumi

Basically I'm looking for fun interemediate repertoire that isn't only the old standards. I like some old standards (Moonlight Sonata for example) but others bore me.
posted by maca to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
When I was learning and at your level I found a lot of TV/movie theme songs were good. They were familiar enough that I knew what they were supposed to sound like (and therefore knew when I made a mistake). Lots of books out there for that.

The theme to the Muppet Show I remember being challenging but totally fun to play.

Also, Hernando's Hideaway.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:53 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Joplin's A Breeze from Alabama is one of the first pieces I'll play when I start off of a 3-4 month break from the piano. Fun piece, bonus points if your piano's a bit out of tune.
posted by Seeba at 8:55 AM on February 26, 2014

"Sunflowers" is a fun piece.

Mozart Fantasia in D minor, and the Bach Inventions are also around that level.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 9:00 AM on February 26, 2014

The Satie Gymnodpedies are at the easier end of that level and are lovely and fun to play.
posted by charmedimsure at 9:16 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Snowman piano score has some gorgeous sections. Ashokan Farewell (aka the theme from Ken Burns' Civil War documentary) is very simple and one I always pick up when I'm back at my parents' house and can spend a few days remembering how to play the piano. I find it really beautiful and haunting, despite its simplicity.
posted by augustimagination at 9:22 AM on February 26, 2014

Joni Mitchell anthology. Lady could write some gorgeous, complex pop songs for piano. The book includes a lot of her bog-standard folkie stuff, but it also includes mid-'70s pearls like:

Help Me
Free Man In Paris
In France They Kiss On Main Street
Don Juan's Reckless Daughter
Car on a Hill
posted by mykescipark at 9:32 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My favorite, favorite Joplin piece to play is, or was back when I had semi-regular access to a piano, Bethena Waltz. Not as well known as the Entertainer or Maple Leaf Rag, but man it's just a gorgeous piece of music (doesn't hurt that it's a bit easier to play than either of those, either).
posted by solotoro at 9:47 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Piano teacher here, and intermediate rep is my specialty.

The trouble I am having with your good/bad list is probably the same trouble your own teacher is having: it's all over the place, but in a way that I can't articulate other than "mostly modernish and ethnic-sounding music".

For example, when I read your good list I was shocked to see pieces that I was immediately going to suggest on your bad list--I can't even pin down a genre for you.

Anyway, I think you simply ARE picky, which is totally fine, but at your level sometimes we have to do things we don't like to do in order to learn something that will in turn make things we do like more accessible to us.

Try these on for size:
--Schubert: Some Schubert is touching advanced levels, but most of it isn't that much beyond late int/early advanced, such as his dances and impromptus.
--MacDowell: Woodland Sketches (most of them). His Sonatas are pro level, though.
--Arvo Part: "Variations for the Healing of Arinushka" or Fur "Alina" (although musically these could be considered rather challenging).
--Grieg: Any of his Lyric Pieces; there are 66 of them.
--Bartok: Bagatelles (they will challenge you, but they are accessible).
--Chopin: Specifically some preludes, waltzes, easier Nocturnes, Mazurkas.
--John Field: Nocturnes. They are all fairly easy except #18. Try the e minor one, #10 (or #8, depending on publisher).
--I have written a lot of intermediate-specific piano literature under my composer hat, but I don't want to self-promote...

Anyway, it's a short list but a start. I didn't include links because you could copy/paste into YouTube just as quickly.

MeMail me if you want some scores of my own stuff. Some of it is kinda modern, some of it is minimalist, too.
posted by TinWhistle at 9:50 AM on February 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

Birds by Seymour Bernstein. The Vulture and The Penguin are two of the more early-intermediate ones--the others seem more advanced-intermediate to me. I have fun with them because you can do a dramatic impression of a concert pianist even with only intermediate skills.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 10:44 AM on February 26, 2014

Maybe parts of Schumann's Kinderszenen?

Erik Satie's Crooked Dances?

Maybe Bartok's Mikrokosmos if you want something more angular. Mikrokosmos is a big set of small pieces that progresses from beginner to advanced, so there'll probably be something for your level in there.
posted by sleevener at 11:05 AM on February 26, 2014

The "disliking music from The Piano" is what's throwing me, because normally I'd categorize that as very similar to Yann Tiersen and Phillip Glass. But if it's just a matter of being overexposed to that music, it's easier to recommend other works.

Ludovico Einaudi might be an option, depending on the piece. I put him in the same vein as Yann Tiersen. Give a listen to some of his works on Youtube or Spotify; Oltremare is a good starting point.
posted by castlebravo at 11:18 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Robert Starer's "Sketches in Color" pieces are still some of my favorites to play. Brief, but interesting and just challenging enough to feel worthwhile.
posted by donnagirl at 11:52 AM on February 26, 2014

Is Rondo Capriccioso out of your range?
What has you down on Fur Elise? If it's the repetition and melodic simplicity, maybe you'd prefer the Pathétique Sonata instead?
posted by plinth at 12:21 PM on February 26, 2014

When I was taking lessons, I liked playing this.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:36 PM on February 26, 2014

Jessica's Theme from The Man From Snowy River is lovely and readily available.
posted by goo at 12:50 PM on February 26, 2014

How about something by Nils Frahm? He's just put out a book of sheet music. Ambre is a decent example of his style.
posted by yukonho at 1:12 PM on February 27, 2014

Also, the Debussy Arabesques are gorgeous, not as well known outside of the piano world as some of the stuff you listed, and and the first one especially is pretty achievable after some work.
posted by charmedimsure at 8:44 PM on February 28, 2014

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