Easy piano pieces by Russian composers?
April 3, 2016 6:46 PM   Subscribe

So this is a bit of a weird one: I need to figure out a piece (or adaptation of one) by a Russian composer that I can learn in three weeks. How and why under the fold...

This is for a college course- for some reason, non-BFA students at Temple's Tyler School of Art (and only the non-BFAs; weird, right?) have to take an additional art history elective outside their major's track. I went for an "arts in cultural context" course on Russia. Unfortunately, one of the major components of the class is a CREATIVE PROJECT, and since, as my required studio course from last semester will prove, I am an art history student for a reason. My only defense: childhood piano lessons and the residual ability to slowly, painstakingly read sheet music.

I have no preferences or favorites here- my only criteria are "is it Russian?" and "can someone with basic sheet-reading skills and access to a piano crank it out in a little under a month?".
posted by Merzbau to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Swan Lake, by Tchaikovsky
posted by Phssthpok at 7:01 PM on April 3, 2016

"Montagues and Capulets" by Prokofiev might fit the bill. I've only started playing the introductory section, so I can't speak to the later sections, but the intro is quite simple. I've never played piano before, btw.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:03 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Visions Fugitives by Prokofiev. The first movement should be accessible.

(the second link is not an actual PDF, just a preview)
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:11 PM on April 3, 2016

Dmitry Kabalevsky wrote some piano pieces for children, might fit the bill. I played some of them as a kid; I remember them being somewhat jazzy.
posted by bertran at 7:19 PM on April 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

If it doesn't need to be too long or anything, Larghetto by Stravinsky.
posted by dilettante at 7:24 PM on April 3, 2016

Prokofiev wrote a suite called Music for Children, some of which might be accessible. The March, in particular, is pretty straightforward; when I was back in my childhood home over the holidays, I managed to acquit myself pretty well in sight-reading it. (And I haven't played piano with any regularity since high school.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:38 PM on April 3, 2016


many short easy pieces.
posted by hollyanderbody at 8:23 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

The original version of "Pictures at an Exhibition" was written for piano by Mussorgsky. You might be able to learn one of those pieces in a month. For instance, "The Old Castle".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:50 PM on April 3, 2016

There are lots of easier piano pieces - there was a lovely dramatic piece by Shostakovich in my Grade 2 piano exam (30 years ago so I can't tell you what it was I'm afraid).

Go to a sheet music shop and ask them to find something at the appropriate level. You will have plenty of choice.
posted by tinkletown at 1:37 AM on April 4, 2016

Would "Soviet Armenian" count? Aram Khachaturian wrote a bunch of great "kid's" solo piano stuff that's easy to learn. I'd recommend Ivan Sings, for instance.
posted by saladin at 6:32 AM on April 4, 2016

I finally have a reason to tell someone about these (Gliere)...

posted by TinWhistle at 7:35 AM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

The world's easiest Russian piano piece is The Bear by Vladimir Rebikoff.

As a former cellist who noodled on her piano-teacher mother's sheet music, I had a lot of trouble reading music that was more chord-based, as opposed to melodic, at more than a snail's pace. Thinking in that vein, you could try one of Kabalevsky's Four Rondos, Op. 60 -- obviously it depends on how much of your lessons you remember. The Rondo - Song is slower than the others.

I cannot for the life of me remember the title of the Russian piece I liked the best, which was actually very easy and had a lot of satisfying octave-banging scales in the left hand, but if I remember it I'll add it.
posted by St. Hubbins at 12:34 PM on April 4, 2016

I found several pieces by Scriabin surprisingly easy to get under my clumsy piano fingers. Check out a book of his piano stuff from your school music library and give it a try. (At work and far from my music collection, or I would give specific examples.)
posted by inky_the_pinky at 2:21 PM on April 4, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions, everybody! Unfortunately, I found myself with a lot less time to prepare than I hoped for, and had to nix the idea in favor of a (terrible, just terrible) El Lissitzky abomination homage. But I still have access to a piano, so I hope to give a few of these pieces a try soon!
posted by Merzbau at 11:10 AM on April 22, 2016

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