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#1931428 - 07/23/12 06:22 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Phlebas]  
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I don't think there is a point at all stores, but I think it lies in the psycological factors of the human mind. Some find it amusing to do rankings or just to discuss things that are pointless and in no need for much thoughts(but still involves a subject they find interesting)

You may have a point about the alberti bass in tenths kuanpiano, but I still find passages in Op 78 or even the third movement of Op 27 No 2 that scares me more.. Although I most say, Op 90 is a fantastic sonata, one of my favorites.

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#1931429 - 07/23/12 06:24 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Phlebas]  
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If you were to put the Chopin Ballades or Scherzos in these ranking, where would they be put? What Beethoven sonatas are they comparable to in difficulty?

#1931444 - 07/23/12 06:42 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: beet31425]  
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Originally Posted by beet31425
Whenever I see 110 placed near the top of the list-- and I usually do-- I think: this list is not going to be meaningful to me.


I share your feelings. When writing my post on Op.31/2 I contemplated including Op.110 alongside it; my personal experience of both sonatas has been identical in all respects. In terms of "pianistic" content, I find it one of the most congenial of all 32 for the fingers, and marvellously uniform as regards the difficulty-level of its very diverse requirements. No doubt, then, it would be equally rewarding to read posts on personal difficulties with this sonata as well.


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

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#1931450 - 07/23/12 06:54 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Phlebas]  
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scordatura, in case you missed my question, I will ask you now again.. Have you played the piano for your whole life or did you start playing later? smile

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#1931485 - 07/23/12 07:34 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Phlebas]  
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Could someone please rank all the works in the standard piano literature in order?

#1931487 - 07/23/12 07:35 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Could someone please rank all the works in the standard piano literature in order?


Just the standard literature?

#1931505 - 07/23/12 08:09 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Franz Beebert]  
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Originally Posted by Franz Beebert
scordatura, in case you missed my question, I will ask you now again.. Have you played the piano for your whole life or did you start playing later? smile


I started piano (and getting practically involved with music generally) in early '69 aged 15. I began teaching professionally and playing semi-professionally (never more than that) in '74 before taking up harpsichord and Renaissance/Baroque performance study. The larger part of my performing experience has been in ensemble-playing of some kind (song accompaniment, chamber music, continuo playing etc.), with solo performance as a side-line. I retired some years ago from working professionally, but continue to teach and perform on a limited basis, dividing my available time between piano-practice, research and theoretical writing on piano-technique and the teaching of it, developing a website on the same and trying to keep the house in shape!


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

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#1931516 - 07/23/12 08:17 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Scordatura]  
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Oops, that was meant to be a PM as it's totally off-topic - sincere apologies to all!


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

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#1931571 - 07/23/12 10:32 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Scordatura]  
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Originally Posted by Scordatura
Originally Posted by beet31425
Whenever I see 110 placed near the top of the list-- and I usually do-- I think: this list is not going to be meaningful to me.
I share your feelings. When writing my post on Op.31/2 I contemplated including Op.110 alongside it; my personal experience of both sonatas has been identical in all respects. In terms of "pianistic" content, I find it one of the most congenial of all 32 for the fingers, and marvellously uniform as regards the difficulty-level of its very diverse requirements....

Baloney. ha

That's sort of true provided that you omit the middle section of the 2nd movement. But I assume neither of you does that. grin

I assume that's what has made so many people traditionally rank this sonata among the very hardest.

#1931575 - 07/23/12 10:37 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Scordatura
Originally Posted by beet31425
Whenever I see 110 placed near the top of the list-- and I usually do-- I think: this list is not going to be meaningful to me.
I share your feelings. When writing my post on Op.31/2 I contemplated including Op.110 alongside it; my personal experience of both sonatas has been identical in all respects. In terms of "pianistic" content, I find it one of the most congenial of all 32 for the fingers, and marvellously uniform as regards the difficulty-level of its very diverse requirements....

Baloney. ha

That's sort of true provided that you omit the middle section of the 2nd movement. But I assume neither of you does that. grin

Mark, of course that section is hard. But do you really think this sonata tends to appear in the top five in difficulty because the list author was thinking about that section?

Or do you think it's because there are fugues (and fugues are, you know, hard), and it's late Beethoven (so, you know, generally mysterious and deep) and there are strange structural things like a sequence of slow repeated G major chords?

Let's find common ground here-- can we agree that if we removed that middle section from the 2nd movement, then the sonata should really be positioned mid-list?

-J


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#1931577 - 07/23/12 10:41 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: beet31425]  
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Originally Posted by beet31425
....do you really think this sonata tends to appear in the top five in difficulty because the list author was thinking about that section?

Didn't I just say that? ha

That's what I thought 5 minutes ago, and it's what I still think. grin

Quote
Let's find common ground here-- can we agree that if we removed that middle section from the 2nd movement, then the sonata should really be positioned mid-list?....

I hope you won't be offended if I say I just don't find that a meaningful question.

I can't believe you really, really think it is. And I think it's a "bad influence" to be talking that way. (Yes, I really do think of such things.) grin
It's the kind of thing that makes beginners think maybe the D-flat Nocturne isn't very hard, because who cares about "that measure." ha

But I'll answer it anyway: No, it still wouldn't be "mid-list," because of the other aspects that have been mentioned. But I don't think those other things are why the sonata has so often been placed near the very top in difficulty. It's because in the midst of all that, you also have to do this juggling act.

Last edited by Mark_C; 07/23/12 10:46 PM. Reason: adding last part
#1931583 - 07/23/12 10:51 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Phlebas]  
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Waaaaaiiitt...the middle of the second movement is supposed to be really hard (op.110)??? I thought I just wasn't practising it enough...

This is the same as the Kapustin Variations....I thought they were manageable, just I was too lazy to fix the sloppiness...


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

#1931588 - 07/23/12 11:05 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Kuanpiano]  
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
Waaaaaiiitt...the middle of the second movement is supposed to be really hard (op.110)??? I thought I just wasn't practising it enough...

This is the same as the Kapustin Variations....I thought they were manageable, just I was too lazy to fix the sloppiness...

LOL!

Another thing like that: Schubert's "Little" A major Sonata (D. 664, Op. 120) -- the jumping L.H. accompaniment in the second theme of the last movement. I can't tell you how exhilarated I was when I heard that this really is hard. ha

And yes, the Beethoven is very, very hard. It scrambles the hands and body as well as the brain.

#1931598 - 07/23/12 11:32 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C

And yes, the Beethoven is very, very hard. It scrambles the hands and body as well as the brain.

Even in his early F minor sonata, he's up to some nasty mischief in the development of the first movement.



Jason
#1931605 - 07/23/12 11:51 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
Waaaaaiiitt...the middle of the second movement is supposed to be really hard (op.110)??? I thought I just wasn't practising it enough...

This is the same as the Kapustin Variations....I thought they were manageable, just I was too lazy to fix the sloppiness...

LOL!

Another thing like that: Schubert's "Little" A major Sonata (D. 664, Op. 120) -- the jumping L.H. accompaniment in the second theme of the last movement. I can't tell you how exhilarated I was when I heard that this really is hard. ha

And yes, the Beethoven is very, very hard. It scrambles the hands and body as well as the brain.

That's supposed to be really hard too? Damn...wow. Again, I thought that I just don't practice enough...


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

#1931747 - 07/24/12 09:38 AM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Scordatura
Originally Posted by beet31425
Whenever I see 110 placed near the top of the list-- and I usually do-- I think: this list is not going to be meaningful to me.
I share your feelings. When writing my post on Op.31/2 I contemplated including Op.110 alongside it; my personal experience of both sonatas has been identical in all respects. In terms of "pianistic" content, I find it one of the most congenial of all 32 for the fingers, and marvellously uniform as regards the difficulty-level of its very diverse requirements....

Baloney. ha

That's sort of true provided that you omit the middle section of the 2nd movement. But I assume neither of you does that. grin

I assume that's what has made so many people traditionally rank this sonata among the very hardest.


How treacherous or straightforward you find Op.110 2nd movement, middle section depends crucially on your approach to reading the notes and trying to synchronize them. If you take a purely horizontal approach, conceiving each 8-bar passage as a long line, you'll constantly be worrying over what key the left hand should strike next and when, and the right hand quavers will likely stumble as a result. If you take a vertical approach, that aims purely to establish, quaver by quaver, which quavers involve playing a left-hand key as well, and get used to hearing the music in this precisely-detailed way, you'll completely avoid the aforementioned uncertainty. Thereafter it'll simply be a case of cultivating fluency and speed. That's the approach I was alluding to when I said (re 31/2) I found its diffulties could be mastered through simply applying musicianship skills sufficiently rigorously.

(A similar passage to experiment with in this way is the Presto on the last page of Op31/1.)

I can think of any number of fast passages involving crossed-hand work in Scarlatti or Mozart that are far, far more demanding than this one.


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

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#1931775 - 07/24/12 11:06 AM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Phlebas]  
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Almost every discussion of "how hard is this piece" or "rank in order of difficulty" seems to focus almost exclusively on the technical aspects of the pieces. Missing the point I think.

Of course, the technical challenges are an important part of the equation of difficulty, but from reading most of the posts one might think it's the entire equation.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 07/24/12 11:09 AM.
#1931798 - 07/24/12 12:23 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Yes, I don't think I've ever read a thread asking to rank sonatas, scherzi etc in order of musical difficulty.

If so, I suspect lots of slow movements suddenly propelling works into the very difficult category.

Personally I'm not interested in technical rankings - it depends upon the individual's technical strengths, weaknesses, blind spots etc, as is always proved by these threads.

#1945565 - 08/19/12 02:18 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Almost every discussion of "how hard is this piece" or "rank in order of difficulty" seems to focus almost exclusively on the technical aspects of the pieces. Missing the point I think.

Of course, the technical challenges are an important part of the equation of difficulty, but from reading most of the posts one might think it's the entire equation.


Originally Posted by sandalholme
Yes, I don't think I've ever read a thread asking to rank sonatas, scherzi etc in order of musical difficulty.


In his 1863 book, Introduction to the Interpretation of Beethoven's Piano Works, the German pianist, pedagogue and musicologist Adolph Marx (1795-1866) offered the following (three-tiered)ranking of the sonatas in terms of their spiritual maturity and immediate musical comprehensibility:
Opp.49,76,13,14,2,54,22,53,78;
Opp.26,10,7,28,31,27,57;
Opp.81a,90,106,101,110,109,111.

It's interesting to compare this alongside his progressive ranking of the sonatas in terms of technical demands:
Opp.49,76,14,13,2,10,22,26,28,7,54,31,90,27,81,101,110,57,109,53,111,106.

Whether or not one agrees exactly about Marx's rankings (and he emphasized that they shouldn't be taken as absolute), I can't over-recommend his book sufficiently for its depth of insight into every aspect of playing the sonatas. Although nowadays the work is virtually forgotten, it's as instructive to pianists today as it was back in the 1860s.

Does anyone know if Tovey suggested a musical ranking of the sonatas? (I can't myself recall and don't seem to be able to find my copy of his Companion to Beethoven's Pianoforte Sonatas)



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#1945619 - 08/19/12 03:51 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Phlebas]  
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I wonder if Opus 101 and Opus 106 should switch places. Harold Schonberg claimed that the double notes in Opus 101 are the most difficult passage in all of Beethoven. Claude Frank said that he would rather play the entire "Hammerklavier" than play the last movement of Opus 101.

As to Opus 2 #3, the hardest passage is the fast left hand jumps. The rapid chords and octaves also might be difficult for some people.

Last edited by LaReginadellaNotte; 08/19/12 04:04 PM.

Recent Repertoire:
Liszt: Concerto #1 in Eb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dY9Qw8Z7ao
Bach: Partita #2 in c minor
Beethoven: Sonata #23 in f minor, Opus 57 ("Appassionata")
Chopin: Etudes Opus 25 #6,9,10,11,12
Prokofiev: Sonata #3 in a minor
Suggestion diabolique
#1945704 - 08/19/12 06:34 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]  
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
I wonder if Opus 101 and Opus 106 should switch places. Harold Schonberg claimed that the double notes in Opus 101 are the most difficult passage in all of Beethoven. Claude Frank said that he would rather play the entire "Hammerklavier" than play the last movement of Opus 101.
I don't think Schonberg was a very advanced pianist capable of playing either of those Sonatas at a high level. So how would he be able to judge?

Claude Frank was obviously a much greater pianist but ranking a Sonata's difficulty by the difficulty of one movement or passage is debatable. Perhaps if 90% of a large group of top pianists said one Sonata was harder it would be meanignful.

Why does it matter which one is harder? Everyone knows they're both very hard and which is the "hardest" is just personal opinion. On a scale of 1-10 does it matter if one is a 9.8 and the other one is 9.8?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/19/12 06:36 PM.
#1945716 - 08/19/12 06:58 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
I wonder if Opus 101 and Opus 106 should switch places. Harold Schonberg claimed that the double notes in Opus 101 are the most difficult passage in all of Beethoven. Claude Frank said that he would rather play the entire "Hammerklavier" than play the last movement of Opus 101.
I don't think Schonberg was a very advanced pianist capable of playing either of those Sonatas at a high level. So how would he be able to judge?

Claude Frank was obviously a much greater pianist but ranking a Sonata's difficulty by the difficulty of one movement or passage is debatable. Perhaps if 90% of a large group of top pianists said one Sonata was harder it would be meanignful.

Why does it matter which one is harder? Everyone knows they're both very hard and which is the "hardest" is just personal opinion. On a scale of 1-10 does it matter if one is a 9.8 and the other one is 9.8?

Richter claimed that performing 101 was maybe even more terrifying than 106, but said that he'd probably be accused of blasphemy.

Though I agree, the comparison is pretty pointless.


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

#2159063 - 09/28/13 12:40 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Kuanpiano]  
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It's been enjoyable reading this thread. I'm working on my first Beethoven Sonata, which is Op 110. I've only learned from measures 144 onward (two Dolentes and two Fugues with conclusion). Fugues come relatively easy to me, so that wasn't too hard. The other sections are not technically difficult.

Of course, all of it has tremendous musical depth. So interpretation has been a fascinating experience. Since it's rated fairly high in many of the lists, I'm wondering if I'll have technical trouble in the second movement! Is that the typical troubling area?

#2159191 - 09/28/13 04:56 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: RubberFingers]  
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Originally Posted by RubberFingers
It's been enjoyable reading this thread. I'm working on my first Beethoven Sonata, which is Op 110. I've only learned from measures 144 onward (two Dolentes and two Fugues with conclusion). Fugues come relatively easy to me, so that wasn't too hard. The other sections are not technically difficult.

Of course, all of it has tremendous musical depth. So interpretation has been a fascinating experience. Since it's rated fairly high in many of the lists, I'm wondering if I'll have technical trouble in the second movement! Is that the typical troubling area?


RubberF,

It's true that the second movement's middle section is notoriously tricky. But I think that to understand why 110 ranks so highly on these lists, you have to consider that hitting the right notes is just one component of a piece's overall "difficulty". There's also interpretive difficulty. There's physical stamina. And there's something else: there's a kind of spiritual, musical stamina-- or concentration-- required for some pieces, which can be quite difficult to sustain over 20 minutes or longer. There's another factor to consider as well: sometimes when you bring a piece completely up to speed, all kinds of difficulties present themselves that weren't there before.

So the difficulties of this amazing sonata might not have all presented themselves to you yet; my guess is that hitting all the notes will be the least of your worries. Work up the whole thing, up to speed and polished, and then you can tell us how difficult you thought it was. Good luck!


-Jason


p.s. Looking at my old posts on this very page-- made over a year ago!-- I see that my appreciation of 110's difficulty has increased. Maturity I guess. smile


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#2159194 - 09/28/13 05:03 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Jorleyy]  
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Now that the thread has been raised from the dead, I might as well answer the following question, given that the user who asked it is still active.

Originally Posted by Jorleyy
If you were to put the Chopin Ballades or Scherzos in these ranking, where would they be put? What Beethoven sonatas are they comparable to in difficulty?

In terms of raw velocity, the Chopin Ballades and Scherzi are at least as difficult as the hardest Beethoven Sonatas. However, the precise control of touch, accuracy, and musical maturity required to convincingly pull off a Beethoven Sonata renders them more difficult for the majority of pianists. (In other words, they are played well less often.)

These comments apply to the first three ballades. Opus 52 is harder technically than the late Beethoven Sonatas and requires a huge amount of musical maturity, if maybe not as much as the Beethoven Opus 111.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2159213 - 09/28/13 05:43 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Polyphonist]  
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Now that the thread has been raised from the dead, I might as well answer the following question, given that the user who asked it is still active.

Originally Posted by Jorleyy
If you were to put the Chopin Ballades or Scherzos in these ranking, where would they be put? What Beethoven sonatas are they comparable to in difficulty?

In terms of raw velocity, the Chopin Ballades and Scherzi are at least as difficult as the hardest Beethoven Sonatas. However, the precise control of touch, accuracy, and musical maturity required to convincingly pull off a Beethoven Sonata renders them more difficult for the majority of pianists. (In other words, they are played well less often.)

These comments apply to the first three ballades. Opus 52 is harder technically than the late Beethoven Sonatas and requires a huge amount of musical maturity, if maybe not as much as the Beethoven Opus 111.

I really think this depends on what you mean by "the late sonatas". If you take Op 106 in to account then I would say that you are wrong. The Hammerklavier is miles harder than Chopin's Op 52, both technically and musically. I also don't agree that a piece like the first Ballade is harder technically, or even close to being as hard(if you by technique mean hitting the right notes at the right speed) as Op 111 and Op 101. I actually doubt that it's harder than Op 109 even...

#2159217 - 09/28/13 05:45 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Franz Beebert]  
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Originally Posted by Franz Beebert
The Hammerklavier is miles harder than Chopin's Op 52, both technically and musically.


Thank goodness!

#2159218 - 09/28/13 05:49 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: JoelW]  
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Polyphonist Online content
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Originally Posted by Franz Beebert
Originally Posted by Polyphonist
Now that the thread has been raised from the dead, I might as well answer the following question, given that the user who asked it is still active.

Originally Posted by Jorleyy
If you were to put the Chopin Ballades or Scherzos in these ranking, where would they be put? What Beethoven sonatas are they comparable to in difficulty?

In terms of raw velocity, the Chopin Ballades and Scherzi are at least as difficult as the hardest Beethoven Sonatas. However, the precise control of touch, accuracy, and musical maturity required to convincingly pull off a Beethoven Sonata renders them more difficult for the majority of pianists. (In other words, they are played well less often.)

These comments apply to the first three ballades. Opus 52 is harder technically than the late Beethoven Sonatas and requires a huge amount of musical maturity, if maybe not as much as the Beethoven Opus 111.

I really think this depends on what you mean by "the late sonatas". If you take Op 106 in to account then I would say that you are wrong. The Hammerklavier is miles harder than Chopin's Op 52, both technically and musically. I also don't agree that a piece like the first Ballade is harder technically, or even close to being as hard(if you by technique mean hitting the right notes at the right speed) as Op 111 and Op 101. I actually doubt that it's harder than Op 109 even...
Originally Posted by JoelW
Originally Posted by Franz Beebert
The Hammerklavier is miles harder than Chopin's Op 52, both technically and musically.


Thank goodness!

I wasn't including Opus 106, but I think we still disagree about Opus 52 and the other sonatas. 106 is the only one that is technically harder than the Chopin. Of course this is all opinion.


Regards,

Polyphonist
#2159222 - 09/28/13 05:53 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Phlebas]  
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Franz Beebert Offline
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One more thing. If we are talking pure technical difficulty or "velocity", in which you state that the Scherzi and Ballades are at least as difficult as the late Beethoven Sonatas, then I want to say one more thing: The 4th ballade is absolutely not Chopin's hardest piece in terms of velocity or "hitting the right note at the right speed". His 3rd sonata surely is harder. Many of his etudes are also harder in these terms. If you for example can play Op 25 No 6 or Op 25 No 11 at the right tempo, I doubt you will have a problem with the coda of the 4th Ballade when it comes to hitting the right notes at the right speed.

Last edited by Franz Beebert; 09/28/13 05:54 PM.
#2159224 - 09/28/13 05:55 PM Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty [Re: Franz Beebert]  
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Polyphonist Online content
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Originally Posted by Franz Beebert
One more thing. If we are talking pure technical difficulty or "velocity", in which you state that the Scherzi and Ballades are at least as difficult as the late Beethoven Sonatas, then I want to say one more thing: The 4th ballade is absolutely not Chopin's hardest piece in terms of velocity or "hitting the right note at the right speed". His 3rd sonata surely is harder. Many of his etudes are also harder in these terms. If you for example can play Op 25 No 6 or Op 25 No 11 at the right tempo, you will not have a problem with the coda of the 4th Ballade when it comes to hitting the right notes at the right speed.

Just a minute. You're introducing all these new pieces of Chopin's. Since when were these mentioned? When did I say Opus 52 was Chopin's hardest piece? The original question was about the Ballades and Scherzi. Granted the 4th Scherzo may be more difficult than Opus 52, but you're talking about etudes and sonatas and who knows what.


Regards,

Polyphonist
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