At Last, Accessible Classical Piano Music

An advanced beginner pianist offers her picks for accessible classical piano music that appeals to adults, including Philip Glass, Brahms, and Mendelssohn.

by | Aug 20, 2012

Up close piano keys with light blue background
Photo by Frank Schramm.

The classical piano music works I dislike the most are the ones that pretend to be mice chasing each other, horses galloping, toy solders marching, or simply fields of buttercups. I have a visceral reaction that the music is talking down to me. I don’t think that those pieces please even kids.

On the piano, I’m an advanced beginner—I am, it seems, a musical adolescent—yet like many adults, I have settled tastes in music. So I put together a list of accessible classical piano music, with good YouTube versions. Here are a few favorites from my list. Some of these pieces I can play more or less, while others I’m just coming to grips with, but they are all within reach:

Phillip Glass, Orphée’s Bedroom from the Orphée Suite for Piano.

There are some simple arrangements of this available on the web that are very pleasing—it’s sort of hypnotic. Note the musical reference to the Gluck opera below on the list. Here’s a nice rendition:

Felix Mendelssohn: Songs without Words, Opus 19.

Very rewarding:

Domenico Zipoli, Fughetta.

Short and sweet:

François Couperin, Les Barricades Mystérieuses.

This is a super piece. A bit tricky to get past the start and hear how it rolls around, but very rewarding. Found the score on the web:

Christoph Willibald Gluck, Melody from the opera Orfeo ed Euridice, arranged by Giovanni Sgambati.

This is on my list, but I don’t know if it’s doable by me; maybe by someone a bit further along. Found the music on the web. I heard it first on public radio and stopped the car to listen. Can’t play it now, but I think I can, I think I can, I think I can:

Most of these are pretty short, so it’s possible to learn them before I’m annihilated by them. I don’t have much perseverance and have almost NO patience. If I could play all these passably, I’d be content. I hope some of them are an inspiration to you.

A longer version of this article first appeared as a post in the Musical Fossils discussion group.
Guest Writer Cathie Meetre works at Triple TeQ, a Washington DC firm that assists clients with government proposals.


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