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I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
#2899047 10/10/19 04:39 PM
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achoo42 Offline OP
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If you need to find some pieces to audition with next year, or you're looking to quickly add a piece this year, this guide will work for you. Even if you're not auditioning, you can use this guide to find your next piece!

Audition Repertoire Guide

If you have any questions about your ability to play something or if a piece not listed is a good idea, I will be happy to answer them.

Also, don't take these suggestions set in stone; run them past peers or your teachers because they will often know if you're able to play something effectively or not.


Schumann is the mann.
Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
achoo42 #2899048 10/10/19 04:42 PM
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Oh man this is fantastic! Perfect timing as I'm auditioning this Spring/Summer (relocation timing will determine) and I need pieces. Thank you!

Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
achoo42 #2899200 10/11/19 09:29 AM
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I don't think you can really generalise. It would be easy to think that the people who play the most virtuosic music will get accepted (although you haven't said this).

I know people who did their doctoral studies at Juilliard, Curtis, and Peabody. I think musical maturity, is the most important thing, and the ability to bring the music alive.

One person had to spend a lot of time rebuilding her technique. She was till accepted, as they saw her potential. Another spent almost no time working on technique at all.

The workload seemed horrendous.

Last edited by johnstaf; 10/11/19 09:31 AM.
Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
johnstaf #2899259 10/11/19 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I don't think you can really generalise. It would be easy to think that the people who play the most virtuosic music will get accepted (although you haven't said this).

I know people who did their doctoral studies at Juilliard, Curtis, and Peabody. I think musical maturity, is the most important thing, and the ability to bring the music alive.

One person had to spend a lot of time rebuilding her technique. She was till accepted, as they saw her potential. Another spent almost no time working on technique at all.

The workload seemed horrendous.


Hence my warning that an easier, matured piece is more welcomed than a harder piece not as well played.

But if both are equally well-played and maturely rendered, then the more virtuosic piece is invariably more impressive for the judges.


Schumann is the mann.
Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
achoo42 #2899272 10/11/19 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by achoo42

But if both are equally well-played and maturely rendered, then the more virtuosic piece is invariably more impressive for the judges.


I don't think that's necessarily the case.

Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
johnstaf #2899284 10/11/19 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by achoo42

But if both are equally well-played and maturely rendered, then the more virtuosic piece is invariably more impressive for the judges.


I don't think that's necessarily the case.


Hm, could you give me a scenario where a more difficult but equally well-played piece is less impressive than an easier piece?

I think it's pretty clear cut that the harder but equally well-played work is more impressive. When I said "virtuosic" I didn't necessarily mean more showy, just more difficult, which also reflects in the repertoire list.

If somebody plays the Hammerklavier with the maturity and clarity of Serkin or Kocacevich, I can't think of a Classical work that would be more impressive in it's stead. I suppose Op.111 would be a close second but judges tend to respect the amount of dedication and sheer technical work put into a performance along with the maturity; technique is an objective rating while aspects such as "life" and "maturity" are more subjective and more unfair for the performer.

But yes, sometimes judges are unfair in this way.

Last edited by achoo42; 10/11/19 03:30 PM.

Schumann is the mann.
Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
achoo42 #2899286 10/11/19 03:32 PM
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When a great pianist gives an inspired performance of a Mozart or Schubert sonata.

Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
achoo42 #2899290 10/11/19 03:46 PM
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I generally like the list except for a few small items

I think the Bach toccatas and Partitas would be great pieces for baroque. If not playing a whole suite, then some careful selections

I would lump the Schubert sonatas with romantic, and generally would stay away from the late ones.

In general, the romantic sonatas (Chopin/Schumann/Brahms/Rachmaninoff) are tough, long and difficult to pull off. You may not have that much time

I agree with staying away from late Beethoven, again hard to pull off musically.

I think the Liszt transcriptions are fun to listen to and to learn to play, but not great for auditions. If you're going to spend all that time learning Liszt, why not learn the Sonata, Dante, or Mazeppa.

A Chopin ballade or scherzo played well can really "pop", I would also add the Fantasie and Barcarolle.


The ARCT performers syllabus from Royal Conservatory is a good resource

Last edited by spk; 10/11/19 03:47 PM.
Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
spk #2899314 10/11/19 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by spk
I generally like the list except for a few small items

I think the Bach toccatas and Partitas would be great pieces for baroque. If not playing a whole suite, then some careful selections


I agree, I will add them.

Originally Posted by spk

I would lump the Schubert sonatas with romantic, and generally would stay away from the late ones.


Schubert is transitional and nobody will split hairs over whether or not the sonata you are playing is Romantic or Classical. Also, you can always ask the school faculty if they allow Schubert for the Classical section (most specify that it's OK).

Originally Posted by spk

I think the Liszt transcriptions are fun to listen to and to learn to play, but not great for auditions. If you're going to spend all that time learning Liszt, why not learn the Sonata, Dante, or Mazeppa.


I disagree, there is quite a lot of musical merit in some of these transcriptions, especially Don Juan and Norma. It depends on what you want to convey with your audition and the other pieces on your list.

Originally Posted by spk

A Chopin ballade or scherzo played well can really "pop", I would also add the Fantasie and Barcarolle.


Yeah, but if they are played average then they are particularly harmful since they are so commonly played. Anything appropriate that is played really well will "pop".


Schumann is the mann.
Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
johnstaf #2899316 10/11/19 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
When a great pianist gives an inspired performance of a Mozart or Schubert sonata.


Obviously that will wow the judges but I don't see how that is any more impressive than an inspired performance of the Hammerklavier.

Not that it pertains to my list; the Schubert and Mozart sonatas are already in the most effective category so I don't see any disagreement here.

Last edited by achoo42; 10/11/19 04:43 PM.

Schumann is the mann.
Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
achoo42 #2899329 10/11/19 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by achoo42
Originally Posted by johnstaf
When a great pianist gives an inspired performance of a Mozart or Schubert sonata.


Obviously that will wow the judges but I don't see how that is any more impressive than an inspired performance of the Hammerklavier.

Not that it pertains to my list; the Schubert and Mozart sonatas are already in the most effective category so I don't see any disagreement here.


My point is it's about the performance more than the piece. One of the greatest performances I ever experienced was Grigory Sokolov playing some Haydn sonatas and Schubert Impromptus. Nothing particularly difficult, but absolutely mind-blowing.

Don't get me wrong, it's rare to hear truly amazing Mozart.

Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
achoo42 #2899342 10/11/19 05:45 PM
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I wouldn't worry so much if a piece is overplayed or even played to death. To an experienced panel of piano experts, everything that is remotely familiar is overplayed. As long as they are open to interpretations (some probably think there's only ONE way to play a certain piece), then there's really no reason to avoid an overplayed piece.

For example, Bach's Italian Concerto is overplayed. I played the third movement for my college audition. But I got accepted with an offer of scholarship. It was the only piece that was heard in its entirety during the 10-minute audition.

The danger lies in choosing something so off the beaten path that the panel doesn't know what to do with the music.


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Re: I made a guide for competition and college audition repertoi
AZNpiano #2899353 10/11/19 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
When a great pianist gives an inspired performance of a Mozart or Schubert sonata.

My point is it's about the performance more than the piece. One of the greatest performances I ever experienced was Grigory Sokolov playing some Haydn sonatas and Schubert Impromptus. Nothing particularly difficult, but absolutely mind-blowing.

Don't get me wrong, it's rare to hear truly amazing Mozart.[/quote]

It's rare to hear truly amazing anything, that's why it's amazing.

Amazing difficult works are more impressive for a college panel of judges than amazing works that aren't as amazing.

Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I wouldn't worry so much if a piece is overplayed or even played to death. To an experienced panel of piano experts, everything that is remotely familiar is overplayed. As long as they are open to interpretations (some probably think there's only ONE way to play a certain piece), then there's really no reason to avoid an overplayed piece.

For example, Bach's Italian Concerto is overplayed. I played the third movement for my college audition. But I got accepted with an offer of scholarship. It was the only piece that was heard in its entirety during the 10-minute audition.

The danger lies in choosing something so off the beaten path that the panel doesn't know what to do with the music.


I disagree.

An audition panel does not immediately become confused with music that they are unfamiliar with. They still look for universal signs of good playing such as phrasing, control, color, technique, etc. They aren't judging the music, they are judging the playing.

Also, judges look for breadth of repertoire and musical knowledge. As a student wishing to pursue higher learning, you do not look particularly good when you come in with a handful of clichéd works. You want to show the judges that you are aware of great pieces that aren't so popular.

You also risk a much higher chance of boring the judges if the piece you perform is very commonly auditioned with- if you don't stand out you will blend in and then become forgotten.

Another downside is that when you are playing something that is overplayed, all it takes is somebody with the same performance but slightly better to beat you.

It's good that you got a scholarship with the Italian Concerto, you must have played it very well. I can't help noting, however, that your audition was quite small-scale in comparison to the schools I am referring to; for example the minimum time required at Rice is half an hour.

I do, however, still recommend the Italian Concerto for audition use. It is a very revealing work.




Last edited by achoo42; 10/11/19 06:36 PM.

Schumann is the mann.

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