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Size of repertoire

Posted By: sparrow

Size of repertoire - 09/25/01 12:30 PM

Hello all,

I’ve been a lurker on this forum for a while, considering myself not knowledgeable enough to contribute most of the time, but I do have questions lots of times, so I guess: why not. (Also thanks to yok for encouraging me).

I’m curious about how large a repertoire you could aim for and would like to ask you the following questions:
1) How large is your repertoire (not necessarily memorized, just being able to play it almost perfectly)?
2) How often do you need to play it in order to keep it at the “almost perfect” level?

The reason I’m asking is that I, after having sort of dabbled in piano playing for years and years, now have more time on my hands and recently decided to seriously start working on a nice repertoire. I’m afraid, however, that I may have bitten off more than I can chew when in my enthusiasm I selected maybe too many pieces. I need to figure out how much of my practice time I should spend on maintaining obtained quality levels and how much on practicing new pieces. As right now most of the chosen pieces are still “new”, I also would like to know
3) how many pieces should/could you practice at the same time?

Any advice is more than welcome,
thanks and regards,
Posted By: ZeldaHanson

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/25/01 03:52 PM

Almost every piece that I have learned from the beginning (not lesson pieces) I have kept in my memory and repetoire. Some of them that I make sure don't slip from my memory are Clair De Lune, Raindrop Prelude, Prelude in B Minor (chopin), Fur Elise, Moonlight Sonata, Bach's Preludes. Those are just the popular ones often requested, so I definetly keep those. But then of course there are other pieces not well known that I remember for my sake. So that my mind doesn't stray from the complicated parts in the pieces in my repetoire, I practice those sections almost every other day (not necessarily the whole piece).

I usually practice about 2 major works in the same week or so. Lately I have been focusing on Chopin and Bach Preludes. Then I play lesson pieces in between, scales for the pieces I'm practicing, hanon, that kind of stuff. I couldn't concentrate on just one major work because I would get sick of it extremely fast.

Anyway, that's what I do. Just try to remember as much as possible. Your ability to acquire knowledge will expand with the more you shove into your brain. =) I pack as much as humanly possibly into my head. Then I can play for hours on end for my own pleasure when I'm not in the mood to practice.

Posted By: ZeldaHanson

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/25/01 03:52 PM

Oh out of curiousity, what pieces do you currently have in your repetoire? (This is a question for everyone to answer if they wish)

Posted By: sparrow

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/25/01 05:28 PM

Ahem… I’ve put about 60 pieces on my repertoire-to-be list, but am not progressing very much as this is way too many to be studying at the same time. What I’ve managed to play relatively mistake-free, but not at all perfectly, so far is:
Beethoven sonata no. 28/15/2, Moonlight part 1, Für Elise
Brahms waltz no. 15
Bach/Gounod Ave Maria
Chopin nocturne op.post E flat major (BI 108), nocturne 72/1, Raindrop prelude
Debussy Clair de Lune
four Mendelssohn Gondola Songs and Spring (SWW62/6)
Schubert impromptu 90/3, impromptu 142/2
Schumann Widmung (Dedication)
Theme from “The Piano” (yes, me too).
Posted By: piqué

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/25/01 06:52 PM

it's fine to have a list of pieces you would ultimately like to master, but i think by focusing so much on the long-term big picture you are indeed handicapping yourself.

why not take it one day at a time? select one or two pieces you will work on this month, and see how it goes?

you are probably better served by not looking much beyond your current practice load--and i think 4 pieces at once, in different stages of learning, is PLENTY.

then, when you've "retired" a piece, you can search among your long term list for the next one you would like to try.

and every practice session should include some "fun" time of revisiting the works you've already learned to play well.

also, bear in mind that sometimes it's best to move on from a piece even before you have mastered it, then come back to it in a year or so, after playing some other pieces that might help you prepare developmentally for the one you want in your repertoire.

good luck.
Posted By: Amy

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/25/01 08:16 PM

I like to work on about 3 pieces at once. They're all in different stages. It keeps me from getting bored. I generally don't like to do the Hanon books or anything of that sort. I find that I learn technique better by playing pieces and learning the different techniques for the different pieces. I don't consider pieces that I don't have memorized to be part of my repetoire because I would never perform them unmemorized.
My repetoire currently consists of Liebestraume, Chopin Waltz in C# minor, Rachmaninoff Prelude in c# minor (its fun to play the prelude and the waltz together) Chopin Raindrop prelude, Chopin Nocturne in E flat, and the 1st movement of Mozart sonata in a minor. I'm still working on the other 2. In a month or so I will have the whole mozart sonata, Ginastera's Danzas Argentinas, and Debussy's Reflections in the Water.
Sparrow- I would recommend that you pick maybe 3 pieces that you would really like to learn right away. I know that it will be hard to choose but try choosing your pieces all by different composers.
Posted By: yok

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/26/01 12:33 AM

I asked a similar question to this a while ago. I think the size of repertoire you want depends on what you want it for. Rather than trying to "build up" a repetoire, it is perhaps more practical to make sure you have a few pieces ready at any given time, but to change those pieces rather than trying to keep everything up. The pieces already learnt will stay with you to a certain extent and can be brushed up as the need arises. There's just too much exciting repertoire to explore to spend all your time maintaining what you've already learnt.

I also play in a piano trio, so I have this problem two times over. The repertoire for this ensemble is also very rich, and much of it is very demanding. We want to try all sorts of things, but we also need to keep up pieces in case the opportunity to play somewhere arises at short notice.
Posted By: Brendan

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/26/01 01:58 AM

I know I'm forgetting some pieces, but here's off the top of my head:

Bach: Preludes & Fugues (all from book 1)- C major, c minor, C# major, D major, d minor, e-flat minor, f minor, B-flat major, b minor, French suite in G, Aria Variata in the Italian Style

Haydn: Sonata in E-flat, Hob. 52

Mozart: Sonata in F, K 332, Sonata in C, K 545

Beethoven: Sonata in f minor, op. 2 #1, Sonata in E-flat, op 7, Sonata in c minor, op. 13, Sonata in E, op. 14 #1, Sonata in E-flat, op 81a, Sonata in A-flat, op 110

Chopin: Ballades #1 and 3, Etudes op. 10, nos 3, 6, 10, 12, op 25 nos. 1, 6, 7, Impromptus in A-flat and C# minor, Polonaise in A (Military) assorted nocturnes and preludes

Liszt: Sonata in b minor (currently), Vallee d'Obermann, Les jeux d'eau, Sonnetto 104, Concert Etude in D-flat (Sospiro), Hungarian Rhapsodies 3, 5, 13, 15, Consolations, Paysage, Harmonies du Soir,

Mendelssohn: Rondo Cappricioso, op 14

Brahms: Rhapsody in b minor, op 79 #1, Klavierstucke op. 76

Franck: Prelude, Chorale, et Fugue

Ravel: Jeux d'eau

Scriabin: Sonata-Fantasy

Prokofiev: Third Sonata

Messiaen: Noel

Haydn, D major
Mozart, nos. 11 and 20
Beethoven #1
Liszt #2
Saint-Saens #2
Ravel, G major
Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue

Next recital program:
Messiaen, Noel
Beethoven, op. 110
Liszt, Sonata in b minor
Posted By: magnezium

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/26/01 02:43 AM

i have a pretty long repertoire-to-be list as well, but it's hidden away somewhere now... i can't be bothered to find it either... every so often i hear a piece that's new to me and i just want to play it, so i go learn it... the list was restraining me too much... tastes change and unless you constantly edit your list, it won't be much fun sticking to it...
Posted By: wghornsby

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/26/01 04:11 AM

OK, I know embarrassingly little compared to you guys, but I haven't had much time yet. I've really just begun within the last two years to learn (maul) some classical pieces. So far:

Debussy: Arabesque #1, Girl w/Flaxen Hair, Reverie

Chopin: Nocturne op9 #2, Etude #3 (disclaimer: too chicken to learn that damned middle), C# nocturne (op posth)

Grieg: Arietta lyric piece

Brahms: Waltz op39#15 I think

Bach: Air, and one of his 2-part inventions I learned so long ago I haven't a clue which number it is

Tchaikovsky: June from The Seasons

Ravel: Menuet from Le Tombeau de Couperin

That's all for now.

[ September 26, 2001: Message edited by: wghornsby ]
Posted By: jgoo

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/26/01 04:35 AM

Chopin: Prelude Op.28 No.15 "Raindrop", Prelude Op.28 No.7, Etude Op.10 No.3 (A simplified version), Nocturne Op.9 No.2 (Also a simplified version), and Waltz Op.64 No.2

Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata Mov.1, Fur Elise, and Minuet in G

Strauss: The Beautiful Blue Danube

Robert Schumann: The Happy Farmer

Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude No.1 from Book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier, Minuet #1

Satie: Gymnopedie #1

MacDowell: To a Wild Rose

Mozart: Piano Sonata k.545 or k.331. I have two books with the same mozart piece but one labels the piece k.545 and the other labels it k.331 (Mov.1)

Scott Joplin: The Entertainer

Mendelssohn: Wedding March from "Midsummer Night's Dream" (simplified version) and Song Without Words Op.62 No.3

And I pretty sure that I'm missing some from this list. I'll update later.

[ September 26, 2001: Message edited by: jgoo ]
Posted By: sparrow

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/26/01 02:05 PM

Thanks for all the replies about your repertoires so far; it is very interesting. Please keep those posts coming!

Brendan, your repertoire is amazing! Even though I’m not anywhere near your league of course, it’s encouraging to know that some people can have such a huge amount of pieces in their fingers. I suppose you even have memorized them all? How often do you need to play them to keep them perfect and in memory?

Pique, I know what you mean when you say you sometimes have to put a half-learned piece away until you’re really ready to master it. I tried to play Chopin’s etude 10/3, even memorized the weird parts (I’m not good at memorizing). Then I bought a CD with this piece on it and was so disappointed to hear at what speed these weird parts are supposed to be played. I think I’ll never be able to manage that.

Yok and Magnezium, until now all I did was exploring new pieces to play, but never stopped long enough to learn to play something perfectly (except for Für Elise and Moonlight 1). You should see my sheetmusic collection. It’s my new goal in life to have a repertoire, as large as possible, of beautiful pieces I’m proud to play with no mistakes. Maybe if I play these often enough, I can even start memorizing them. When I reach that state (in a long and faraway future…), and I find out I don’t have any playing time left just to be able to keep up this size of repertoire, then I will put some of them to rest to be replaced with something even nicer.

Amy and Pique, thanks for the advice on not studying more than 3 or 4 pieces at the same time. I will try to follow this rule, probably starting with the easiest ones so I won’t get bored with playing the same things over and over again.

Sorry this post got so long. I’m really having fun.
Thanks and regards, Thea
Posted By: magnezium

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/26/01 02:49 PM

well since everyone has posted their repetoire, here goes:

Beethoven: Moonlight 1, Pathetique 2, complete Tempest

Chopin: Nocturnes Op. 9 No. 1, Op. 27 No. 1, Op. 37 No. 1, Op 55 No. 1, Op 72 No. 1, posth C Sharp Minor and posth C Minor. Preludes 4 and 6. Waltzes in B minor (forgot the op. no.) and Op. 64 No. 2, many Mazurkas.

Debussy: La Fille aux cheveux de lin, Reverie

Faure: Nocturne No. 4 in E Flat Major, Romances sans paroles no. 3 in A Flat Major (this is a real beauty)

Rachmaninov: Prelude in C Sharp Minor, Op. 3 No. 2

Ravel: Prelude (hehe this is easy =]), Menuet sur le nom d'Haydn

Scarlatti: K. 27 in B Minor, K. 141 in D Minor

Tchaikovsky: Seasons - January, March, April, June, July, November

don't know what i've forgotten, but if i remember i'll post it...
Posted By: ChemicalGrl

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/26/01 04:28 PM

Originally posted by magnezium:
Faure: Nocturne No. 4 in E Flat Major, Romances sans paroles no. 3 in A Flat Major (this is a real beauty)

I agree; I'm currently working on the Romances sans paroles and it is indeed very beautiful.

This one isn't a piano solo, but Faure's Cantique de Jean Racine is a very beautiful piece as well. Having a choir accompanied by a harp for that one ... words escape me as to the beauty of that piece.
Posted By: yok

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/26/01 08:02 PM


k545 and K331 are different sonatas, so one must be labelled wrongly. The first movt of K331 is a lovely theme and variations in A and the last movt is the famous Turkish Rondo. K545 is in C. Both are great pieces anyway.
Posted By: Bernard

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/26/01 10:12 PM

Well these are the pieces I've worked on and am working on. As you can see, a number of them are in progress or are ongoing studies. Those without a comment I committed to memory. A few of them would need refreshing and re-polishing since it's been a while since I played them.

I also keep a list of pieces I want to learn someday. I don't have that list with me but I know that Chopin's 1st Ballade is right near the top of the list. Also on the list are Beethoven's "Waldstein" and "Les Adieux" sonatas and other Rachmaninoff preludes.

My project for next spring is to put together a short program--something I haven't done yet.

Prelude and Fugue Book 1, #15 in G
Prelude and Fugue Book 1, #5 in D

Sonata op.13 #8 in Cm (‘Pathetique’)
Sonata op.2 #3 in C (not finished yet)

Intermezzo op.118 #2 in A
Intermezzo op.116 #4 in E

Nocture op.37 #1 in Gm
Nocture op.48 #1 in Cm (not finished yet)
Polonaise op.26 #2 in Gb
op.10 #3 in E (not memorized)
op.10 #5 in Gb ‘Black key’ (not completely)
op.10 #12 in Cm ‘Revolutionary’ (almost finished)
op.25 #2 in A-flat (ongoing)
op.25 #6 in B ‘Thirds’ (about half done)
op.25 #8 in D-flat ‘Sixths’ (ongoing)
op.25 #10 in D ‘Octaves’ (briefly)

Prelude op.23 #5 in Gm

Prelude op.27 #2 in B (not finished yet)

Impromptu D899, op.90 #2 in Eb
Impromptu D899, op.90 #3 in Gb (not memorized)
Impromptu D899, op.90 #4 in Ab (not memorized)
Posted By: ZeldaHanson

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/27/01 02:09 AM

Very impressive all of you. =0)

And Im sure you practice on quality rather than quantity riiiiiiighhht?

Zeldah :p
Posted By: Aura

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/27/01 06:27 AM

Hello All,

I haven't been able to check into Pianists Corner for ages; it's great reading all your posts again...

Brendan, I'm impressed with your repertoire list. Do you have all these works by memory? And how long do you find you can go without touching them again before they begin to slip?

As for my repertoire, I tend to have trouble maintaining a lot of pieces...

Bach: Preludes and Fugues bk II, C maj, C min, D maj, D min

Handel: Suite No 7 (currently working on)

Mozart: Fantasie and Sonata in C minor, Sonata KV 310

Beethoven: Sonata Opus 81a "Les Adieux"

Liszt: Waldesrauschen (about to begin work on Trancendental Etudes I think...)

Rachmaninoff: Prelude in B minor, Opus 32 No 10

Mendelssohn: Fantasia Opus 28

Chopin: Ballade No. 2

Bozza: Allegro de Concert

Gifford: Piano Sonata


Ross Edwards
beethoven #3 (currenty working on)

I have an awfully large amount to be working on at the moment, not including the above mentioned pieces... I'm doing a competition early next year requiring an audition repertoire of 10 solo works and then a piano concerto. Must get to work...

Anyway, keep up all the hard work.


Aura smile
Posted By: BruceD

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/27/01 12:03 PM

I hope you will forgive me for being pedantic :

Chopin's Polonaise Op 26 no 2 is in E flat minor, not G flat major.

Posted By: Bernard

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/27/01 08:59 PM


Oops. Of course.
Posted By: Bernard

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/27/01 09:07 PM

BTW, since we the participants are piano students, and the subject is repertoire, I don't think it's pendantic to point out one another's mistakes. smile
Posted By: jgoo

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/28/01 12:04 AM

Originally posted by yok:

k545 and K331 are different sonatas, so one must be labelled wrongly. The first movt of K331 is a lovely theme and variations in A and the last movt is the famous Turkish Rondo. K545 is in C. Both are great pieces anyway.

First of all, I would like to say that I, jgoo, not jodi, posted the note about the Sonata K.#'s. Don't feel bad about it. Anyway, it is K.545 that I play, the one in C. That means that my Casio Book made a miss-print by calling it K.331.
Posted By: SethW

Re: Size of repertoire - 09/28/01 03:30 AM

If anyone remembers,I posted a perfect repertoire post a while back in which I was discussing updating my repertoire.Anyways,that is pretty much completed now,but some things I think are useful to remember is generaly,unless you are a concert pianist, you should memorize things that you enjoy.Do not memorize things just for the sake of trying to build a repertoire.Small or great I do not think it matters as long as that is what you are comfortable with.There are some piece which I believe every pianist should know,however.Of course,the more experienced a pianist you are the more people expect out of you.Over time, I have accumulated far to many things in my repertoire to list here(in all styles),and I'm not a show-off kind of person but perhaps I will post my repertoire when I have more time.That one principle of building a repertoire which you enjoy will help you to not just create good repertoire but keep it,as well.

[ September 27, 2001: Message edited by: SethW ]
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Size of repertoire - 10/21/01 10:34 PM

I really don't have much time to practice- almost none at all! My repertoire is;

Beethoven: Hammerklavier Sonatina
Bach: Goldberg Variations(I usually transpose to F-sharp major to make it challenging)
Brahms:Paganini Variations Books 1,2,AND 3
Chopin: 27 Etudes(always played without any intermission}
Chopin-Godovsky: 53 Etudes(I take a 5-minute break half way through)
Boulez: Sonata #2(I don't like it that much and neither does the audience but it only took a few hours to master)
Scarlatti: 555 Sonatas(played in Longo or Kirkpatrick order at the audience's request)
Concerti: Due to limited time I only keep the Rach 3, Brahms 2, and Busoni in my "ready to perform on a moment's notice" repertoire
I one gave an all- toccata recital consisting of the Khachaturian, Schumann(played in D major), Ravel, Debussey, Prokofiev, all the Bach Toccatas, all the Bach-Busoni Toccatas, with the Weber Perpetuum Mobile as an encore.
Posted By: magnezium

Re: Size of repertoire - 10/22/01 02:58 PM

very impressive... haha I kind of like the Boulez #2... smile
Posted By: ryan

Re: Size of repertoire - 10/22/01 04:04 PM


Thanks for the chuckle smile I'm curious where you found book 3 of Brahms Paganini variations? Most people don't even know they exist wink

I was surprised to see that you don't play both books of Bach's WTC in all keys. Or is that just not in your current repertoire? Something you might try with the Boulez Sonata is to transpose it to a different key, or even many different keys. It can really help the audience experience.

Ok, now removing tongue from cheek...

Posted By: neal pullins

Re: Size of repertoire - 10/22/01 05:20 PM

Beethoven Sonatas: Pathetique, Appassionata-all mvmts-various other sonatas, Fur Elise (of course)

Chopin: Etudes: Op 10,#1, Op 25,#11
Polonaises: Op 26,#1, Op 53, Op 40,#1
Nocturnes: most of them
Waltzes: all of them
Ballades: #1, #3
Scherzi: #2
various preludes
piano sonata #2

Brahms: Rhapsodies Op 79, #1,#2

Bach: Preludes & Fugues book I WTC #9, #21, #11

Debussy: L'isle joyeuse

Schubert: Impromptu, Op. 90,#4

Schumann: Novellette, Op.21, Concerto in Am

Liszt: Hung. Rhap. #2, Transcendental Etude #8, Liebestraum, Consolation #3

Mozart: sonatas (various)

Bloch: "Waves" from Poems of the Sea

maybe others too I can't think of at the moment--
Posted By: sparrow

Re: Size of repertoire - 10/25/01 03:38 PM

I am so happy; I just want you all to know. I didn’t like your recommendations very much to not study too many pieces at once, but decided to leave most of my to-be-repertoire alone and focus on Chopin. I especially love the nocturne op.post. E flat major (BI 108) and was playing it rather well, if I say so myself. Then a couple of days ago I thought: this first page is really simple, so why don’t I try to play it from memory. And lo and behold, the same evening I could do it!! And it took me only three other evenings to memorize the other two pages. This is amazing as I was very very bad at learning things by heart. So now I know what to do: play a piece over and over again till I can do it almost perfectly, and only then will I start memorizing it.
So I am very grateful indeed for your advice. It feels better to have one piece perfectly in memory than sixty-odd in bad shape.
Thank you all! Thea
Posted By: SethW

Re: Size of repertoire - 10/26/01 03:45 AM

The important thing is that repertoire should be determined by the things you enjoy. Size is directly related to this. I do not believe in building a large repertoire just for the sake of showing off or to prove pianistic skill (it does not.)If you are in a rush to build this enormous repertoire as quickly as possible it could have dire results on a persons appreciation of music. Generally, the repertoire pieces I keep are pieces that I would want to play, should I stumble on a piano. Unfortunately, these lists can be pretty large. Over time, however, pieces will began to stick in your head and you sort of accumulate things.
Posted By: AndrewG

Re: Size of repertoire - 10/26/01 12:18 PM

The repertoire that I seriously worked on and 'nailed down' are 14 full-length recitals. The playing time of each ranges from 70-90 minutes. No repetition of any selections across the programs. All programs memorized. Four of these programs were dedicated to one single composer, namely, Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart & Chopin. That was decades ago. Today I can't play any of them so I'll not list them individually.

Today my actively repertoire is "Memory" by Andrew Lloyd-Weber. Oh well...

Posted By: magnezium

Re: Size of repertoire - 10/26/01 02:59 PM

btw, the BI 108 is in C minor and not E flat major... smile
Posted By: sparrow

Re: Size of repertoire - 10/26/01 05:27 PM

Oops, Magnezium, I didn't know that having three flats can mean more than one key. Never had a piano teacher. I mostly try to remember the pieces by their opus numbers. I wish they'd given all these posthumus opuses numbers, much easier.
Thanks, Thea
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