Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty

Posted by: Phlebas

Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/22/03 04:32 PM

Below is a ranking of teh thirty-two Beethoven Piano Sonatas by difficulty - the first on the list is the least difficult, and #32 on the list is the most difficult. It was based on a combination of my experience playing Beethoven, and some opinions among the piano playing world - e.g. Op49#2 is the easiest, and Op106 is the most difficult.
I am posting this ranking with the utmost humility, and it is in any no definitive.
Please let me know what you think of this ranking.

1 - Op 49#2
2 - Op 49#1
3 - Op 14#1
4 - Op 2#1
5 - Op 79
6 - Op 10#1
7 - Op 14#2
8 - Op 10#2
9 - Op 26
10 - Op 13 "Pathetique"
11 - Op 54
12 - Op 27#2 "Moonlight"
13 - Op 28 "Pastoral"
14 - Op 31#3
15 - Op 78
16 - Op 31#2 "Tempest"
17 - Op. 22
18 - Op 2#3
19 - Op 2#2
20 - Op 90
21 - Op 31#1
22 - Op 27#1
23 - Op 10#3
24 - Op 7
25 - Op 110
26 - Op 57 "Appasionata"
27 - Op 109
28 - Op 81a "Les Adieux"
29 - Op 53 "Waldstein"
30 - Op 111
31 - Op 101
32 - Op 106 "Hammerklavier"
Posted by: MichaelD

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/22/03 05:18 PM

Have you acually played them all? IF you have, congrats on my part!
Posted by: Marquis de Posa

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/22/03 07:04 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas:
Below is a ranking of teh thirty-two Beethoven Piano Sonatas by difficulty - the first on the list is the least difficult, and #32 on the list is the most difficult. It was based on a combination of my experience playing Beethoven, and some opinions among the piano playing world - e.g. Op49#2 is the easiest, and Op106 is the most difficult.
I am posting this ranking with the utmost humility, and it is in any no definitive.
Please let me know what you think of this ranking.

1 - Op 49#2
2 - Op 49#1
3 - Op 14#1
4 - Op 2#1
5 - Op 79
6 - Op 10#1
7 - Op 14#2
8 - Op 10#2
9 - Op 26
10 - Op 13
11 - Op 54
12 - Op 27#2
13 - Op 28
14 - Op 31#3
15 - Op 78
16 - Op 31#2
17 - Op. 22
18 - Op 2#3
19 - Op 2#2
20 - Op 90
21 - Op 31#1
22 - Op 27#1
23 - Op 10#3
24 - Op 7
25 - Op 110
26 - Op 57
27 - Op 109
28 - Op 81a
29 - Op 53
30 - Op 111
31 - Op 101
32 - Op 106[/b]
I pretty much agree, except for a few things:

1. I would put Opus 7 at 29 and shift everything else down accordingly.

2. I would order Opus 53, 81a, 109, and 57 like this: 57 (most difficult), 53, 81a, 109

3. Opus 31 Number 3 is so much more difficult than what you're saying it is. It deserves to be at around 22 or 23.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/22/03 08:14 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by MichaelD:
Have you acually played them all? IF you have, congrats on my part![/b]
MichaelD
Thanks for the question. I have not played them all. That is why I say this ranking is in no way definitive.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/22/03 08:17 PM

How many have you seriously studied/played? What is the most difficult one you have played?
Posted by: magnezium

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/22/03 08:23 PM

I don't know, I don't think Op. 90 is that difficult.

But anyway, great job!! \:\) very useful.
Posted by: benedict

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/23/03 04:23 AM

Phlebas !

Thank you ever so much !

This proposed ranking of Beethoven's sonata by order of difficulty is so precious.
I would never have thought of starting with op 49 n°2.
Beethoven , a nous deux ! (your time has come)
\:\)
Posted by: David_J

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/23/03 04:35 AM

It's wonderful to see you devote your time to analysing the pieces completely to rank them... I feel inspired to do the same with Mozart \:\)
Posted by: benedict

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/23/03 05:37 AM

Please do.

And if anybody is motivated by doing it with Chopin and Debussy, he will get three free years in Heaven.
(meals included)
\:\)
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/23/03 08:45 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
How many have you seriously studied/played? What is the most difficult one you have played?[/b]
I have only played seven of them, the most difficult being Op. 110 (according to my list - I also played Op. 7, which I found at least as difficult technically). That is why I say the ranking is presented with all humility, and I welcome your feedback.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/23/03 09:42 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by magnezium:
I don't know, I don't think Op. 90 is that difficult.

But anyway, great job!! \:\) very useful.[/b]
You may be right about Op. 90. I was struggling with that one - in terms of ranking it that is \:\) . Op 90 is ranked as high as it is because of its difficulty to play well musically. Also, the first movement is fairly difficult technically. However, based on your feedback, I may bring it down more on the list.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/23/03 09:49 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Marquis de Posa:
[QUOTE]I pretty much agree, except for a few things:

1. I would put Opus 7 at 29 and shift everything else down accordingly.

2. I would order Opus 53, 81a, 109, and 57 like this: 57 (most difficult), 53, 81a, 109

3. Opus 31 Number 3 is so much more difficult than what you're saying it is. It deserves to be at around 22 or 23.[/b]
Opus 7 is very difficult. If I read your post correctly, if you put Op 7 at #29, then it will be placed higher than 53, 109, 81a, and 57. I think all those sonatas are more difficult than Op7. An argument could be made that they are technically on a par, but the later sonatas require a maturity that, IMO, Op 7 does not.
I may take your advice about Op 57, and 31#3.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/23/03 10:58 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by David_J:
It's wonderful to see you devote your time to analysing the pieces completely to rank them... I feel inspired to do the same with Mozart \:\) [/b]
I would love to see a ranking of the Mozart sonatas. I have only played about four of them, and find them very difficult to perform (wouldn't have a clue how to rank them).
Posted by: Marquis de Posa

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/23/03 11:06 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Marquis de Posa:
[QUOTE]I pretty much agree, except for a few things:

1. I would put Opus 7 at 29 and shift everything else down accordingly.

2. I would order Opus 53, 81a, 109, and 57 like this: 57 (most difficult), 53, 81a, 109

3. Opus 31 Number 3 is so much more difficult than what you're saying it is. It deserves to be at around 22 or 23.[/b]
Opus 7 is very difficult. If I read your post correctly, if you put Op 7 at #29, then it will be placed higher than 53, 109, 81a, and 57. I think all those sonatas are more difficult than Op7. An argument could be made that they are technically on a par, but the later sonatas require a maturity that, IMO, Op 7 does not.
I may take your advice about Op 57, and 31#3.[/b]
That's right. Opus 7 is more difficult than the Appasionata. Much of this difficulty comes from the symphonic sound of the entire piece and particularly the very fast pace the first and third movements need to be played at.

This is just my opinion however. Different people find different things difficult.
Posted by: Praetorian_AD

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/23/03 06:40 PM

Very interesting indeed. Though some may call it a fickle task, I think it would be great if some people with an absoutely encyclopaedic knowledge of the piano literature (like David Dubal, for instance) should really get together and try and rank these pieces (maybe somebody's already done it) and put them in a catalogue or something. I only say this because people (esp amateurs) are *always* bloody asking 'how difficult would you say this is?' and 'am I ready to conquer this piece?' (not that these questions bother me). At least with the charts, they would have some idea, right?

Peter
Posted by: StanSteel

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/23/03 08:53 PM

Hi Phlebas,
Thank you for this rating, it might be useful for those who like me want to one day go about learning some of the Beethoven sonatas.
I have a suggestion though. Could you put the sonatas nicknames (Appassionata, Hammerklavier, Waldstein, etc) next to the respective opus numbers? \:\)
Posted by: katie_dup1

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/24/03 12:50 AM

I agree with StanSteel. This ranking is quite useful, but I too would appreciate the "descriptors".
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/24/03 09:54 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Praetorian_AD:
Very interesting indeed. Though some may call it a fickle task, I think it would be great if some people with an absoutely encyclopaedic knowledge of the piano literature (like David Dubal, for instance) should really get together and try and rank these pieces (maybe somebody's already done it) and put them in a catalogue or something. I only say this because people (esp amateurs) are *always* bloody asking 'how difficult would you say this is?' and 'am I ready to conquer this piece?' (not that these questions bother me). At least with the charts, they would have some idea, right?

Peter[/b]
I think it would be more useful to rank the Beethoven sonatas (or any long list of pieces) in 3-5 general categories from easiest to hardest. That's the way pieces are ranked in Clavier magazine and in Hinson's book on piano literature. Putting such a long list "in order" seem like too much nitpicking to me. Just my opinion!
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/24/03 10:48 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Praetorian_AD:
Very interesting indeed. Though some may call it a fickle task, I think it would be great if some people with an absoutely encyclopaedic knowledge of the piano literature (like David Dubal, for instance) should really get together and try and rank these pieces (maybe somebody's already done it) and put them in a catalogue or something. I only say this because people (esp amateurs) are *always* bloody asking 'how difficult would you say this is?' and 'am I ready to conquer this piece?' (not that these questions bother me). At least with the charts, they would have some idea, right?

Peter[/b]
I think it would be more useful to rank the Beethoven sonatas (or any long list of pieces) in 3-5 general categories from easiest to hardest. That's the way pieces are ranked in Clavier magazine and in Hinson's book on piano literature. Putting such a long list "in order" seem like too much nitpicking to me. Just my opinion![/b]
pianoloverus and Praetorian_AD

Excuse the double quote here, but I think it applies in this case to what you were both asking. Here is not an ideal answer, but a curious aid.

I have a photocopy of a work entitled : Principes Rationnels de la Technique Pianistique published by Editions Maurice Senart, (Paris, 1928) (no author credited on the title page!!) which has several hundred piano works rated in 4 degrees of difficulty:

p.d. (peu difficile) - easy
a.d. (assez difficile) - fairly difficult
d. (difficile) - difficult
t.d. (très difficile) - very difficult

However, it's not as easy as all that, because each piece is divided into five (possible) categories and each piece's difficulty is rated relative to those categories when those categories apply: (I'll translate directly from the French, but if you want the French, I'll send it to you)

Category 1 : independence and flexibility of fingers
Category 2 : passing of the thumb, scales, arpeggios
Category 3 : double notes and polyphonic voicing
Category 4 : stretches
Category 5 : wrist technique and chord playing

For example : Beethoven's Op 13 (Pathétique) is rated :
Category 1 : fairly difficult
Category 2 : easy
Category 3 : difficult
Category 4 : fairly difficult
Category 5 : fairly difficult

For example :
Chopin : Etude Op 10, No 3 : (extensions and polyphonic voicing)
Category 1 and 2 : not rated (not applicable?)
Category 3 : difficult
Category 4 : very difficult
Category 5 : difficult

Chopin : Berceuse is rated
Category 1 : very difficult
Categories 2, 3, 4, 5: difficult

Brahms : Ballade, Op 118, No 3 (chord playing and wrist control)
Categories 1 and 2 : not rated (not applicable)
Category 3, 4, and 5: difficult

... and on and on I could go.

This work is limited in its usefulness as it rates only compositions by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Clementi, Beethoven, Hummel, von Weber, Schubert, Czerny (!), Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, and Franck, along with some works for harpsichord by such as Frescobaldi, the Scarlattis, Couperin, Rameau, Farnaby (?) and John Bull.

Still, this is a curious and sometimes highly interesting work.

(Whew! Forgive the length of the post!)

Regards,
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/24/03 11:51 AM

Peter[/qb][/QUOTE]I think it would be more useful to rank the Beethoven sonatas (or any long list of pieces) in 3-5 general categories from easiest to hardest. That's the way pieces are ranked in Clavier magazine and in Hinson's book on piano literature. Putting such a long list "in order" seem like too much nitpicking to me. Just my opinion![/QB][/QUOTE]

You're right. I just did not have time to categorize them in the way you describe. Nitpicking aside, I always hear people asking whether a certain Beethoven sonata is easier or harder than another, which is why I posted this ranking.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/24/03 12:11 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by katie:
I agree with StanSteel. This ranking is quite useful, but I too would appreciate the "descriptors".[/b]
Katie and StanSteel,
I think only a handful of them have names. I edited the first post adding the names of those I know.
Posted by: benedict

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/24/03 12:33 PM

Phlebas

What you did was great.
And everybody can propose his own list according to his criteria.

But thanks to you, we can think of Beethoven's sonata not as huge monuments that should intimidate us but as works of various difficulties like mountains that we can choose to climb according to our skill and stamina of the moment.

Thank you in the name of the people.
\:D
Posted by: PianoMuse

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/24/03 01:18 PM

I would be inclined to push Op.10 No.3 up on the difficulty rating...My piano teacher has done all of them ,and he stated that, for some reason, this is one is right up there with Waldenstein.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/24/03 01:26 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by PianoMuse:
I would be inclined to push Op.10 No.3 up on the difficulty rating...My piano teacher has done all of them ,and he stated that, for some reason, this is one is right up there with Waldenstein.[/b]
Op.10 #3 is indeed very difficult. Those broken sixths can keep you up all night with worry, and the last movement presents interpretive problems. Ah, but that second movement!
I still think it is placed appropriately on the list. It is not as difficult as the Waldstein, Op. 7 or the few that are ranked agead of it.
Could you tell me why your teacher thinks this one is so difficult. It is somewhat subjective, but since he has done all of them, I might have to defer to his opinion.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/24/03 01:30 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by benedict:
Phlebas

What you did was great.
And everybody can propose his own list according to his criteria.

But thanks to you, we can think of Beethoven's sonata not as huge monuments that should intimidate us but as works of various difficulties like mountains that we can choose to climb according to our skill and stamina of the moment.

Thank you in the name of the people.
\:D [/b]
Anytime, Benedict.
We got some very good feedback in this thread, and I may amend the list a bit. I wish I had time to do more of a categorization of the difficulties, as was also suggested, and which would be more useful.
Posted by: Rick

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/24/03 07:42 PM

What might also be very nice is ranking the individual sonata movements in order of difficulty. That would be quite a bit more work, and I'm not suggesting that you do it. But as someone at an upper intermediate level (I think?), there are very few Beethoven sonatas I could play completely. So I'm just picking a movement here and a movement there. In fact, I really wish that McGrath and Hinson did that in their publications.
Posted by: CrashTest

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/24/03 08:31 PM

I would like to comment a trifle on the sonata I am doing now, the Op.22 in B flat major. It is really a fairly large work, about 25 minutes in duration. Compared to Mozart's sonatas, or even his earlier sonatas, this work is built on a larger scale. It is in the same key as the Hammerklavier, and they are both large works. (Although the Op.22 is obviously shorter and easier).

Of the 4 movements, I find the first, Allegro con brio, to be the hardest technically. The technique is mostly composed of arpeggios and scales, but to achieve maximum accuracy and play every note cleanly requires a good deal of work.

The Adagio con molta espressione is very beautiful, as Czerny points out in his book on playing Beethoven, the main interest lies in the different degrees of touch, rather than too much rubato or the like. The middle section is very interesting, it sounds a good deal like a Bach prelude.

The minuet is very graceful, the first part is relatively simple to play. The only possible difficulty could come in cleanly executing the grace notes. The minore reminds one of Chopin's C minor etude (Revolutionary) in its design, I did not find this part too difficult, although there are one or two tricky spots.

The last movement is fantastic, the Rondo Allegretto. The opening theme requires a playful singing touch, with the left-hand counterpoint clearly played as well. (The figurations in the left hand serve as a more subdued melodic role). The section with the left hand thirds and fast right hand 32nd notes fits well under my hands after some practice, the difficulty perhaps is in making it piano while gradually increasing the dymanics. I had a little bit of trouble on the last page, with the rapid left-hand scale and the right hand chords. My main problem was making those thirds in the right hand come out evenly; the left hand itself where most of the action is going on is not too bad.

In conclusion, this sonata not only great to develop numerous facets of one's technique, but it is surely a masterpiece that is beautiful and exciting.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/25/03 07:01 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:
I would like to comment a trifle on the sonata I am doing now, the Op.22 in B flat major. [/b]
Good luck in playing the Op. 22. I always loved that piece - esp. the last movement - and you summed it up very well. Do you think it is placed correctly on the list, since you have an extensive knowledge of this peice?
Posted by: Nina

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/25/03 10:31 AM

BruceD

Thanks for taking the time to translate and post the scoring rubric.

I agree with the idea-- to simply say something is easy or difficult doesn't really catch the true flavor of the issue (although it is still a worthwhile exercise).

I'm thinking of all the comments we've probably all typed and read here that provide the same flavor: something is easy to play, but difficult to pull off musically, or easy to play except for that middle section, really really hard to even get the notes in at speed, etc.

Nina
Posted by: CrashTest

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/25/03 04:08 PM

I think the Op.22 could be a bit higher on the list, since it is probably a trifle harder than Op.90 or one of the other ones. The difficulties are not as much as in the later sonatas, but it is still a challenging piece.
Posted by: Ðanor

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/25/03 08:10 PM

i studied the op.22 last year. And indeed its a very beautifull sonata that's not played often.

i dont think allegro con brio is the hardest movement. i didnt have anyproblem with. But the rondó!! that thirds kill me (specially in the final). The second movement is incredible...
Good luck CrashTest, you choose very well...

now im studyng the op.7 and im not sure if it's harder than the apassionatta. Anyway the difficult is that is like a real symphony, specially the first mvnt, you have to play all the time with timbres..

I last opinion. I dont think waldstein is that hard, do you agree with me guys?
Posted by: CrashTest

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/25/03 08:13 PM

The Waldstein fits the hands very nicely, the 3rd movement is more of a challenge than the first I feel.

As far as the Op.22 goes, I still think that the allegro con brio is has more technical rough spots in the whole of things than the rondo. The rondo only has a feel rough passages (The one you mentioned in thirds and the arpeggio). To play up to tempo, this one is a lot easier than the Allegro. Each person is different I guess! \:D
Posted by: yangkai

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/29/03 02:11 PM

I thought there are 38 sonatas and not 32? according to the sonata book of beethoven in vol I and II, there are 38 sonatas.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/29/03 02:22 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by yangkai:
I thought there are 38 sonatas and not 32? according to the sonata book of beethoven in vol I and II, there are 38 sonatas.[/b]
Not sure which edition you are working from. Why don't you list the ones that are missing with their opus numbers.
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/29/03 02:36 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by BruceD:
Here is not an ideal answer, but a curious aid.

I have a photocopy of a work entitled : Principes Rationnels de la Technique Pianistique published by Editions Maurice Senart, (Paris, 1928) (no author credited on the title page!!) which has several hundred piano works rated in 4 degrees of difficulty...

This work is limited in its usefulness as it rates only compositions by Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Clementi, Beethoven, Hummel, von Weber, Schubert, Czerny (!), Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, and Franck, along with some works for harpsichord by such as Frescobaldi, the Scarlattis, Couperin, Rameau, Farnaby (?) and John Bull.
[/b]
Alfred Cortot. A masterful work, limited only by a lack of a bottle of ambition/energy/determination to help the aspiring instrumentalist get all that work done! It's available in English, as well, and on better paper than the French editions I've seen.

Only Bach, Handel, etc. Good heavens, man, how much do expect one person to do?
Posted by: CrashTest

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/29/03 03:52 PM

I was reading these rankings again, and it is interesting from a technical viewpoint to look at such things. Maybe some more list can be compiled of other composer's works as well?
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/29/03 06:26 PM

Why is Op. 101 considered so difficult? I have heard some famous pianists talk of its difficulty and many people on this board obviously think it's difficult. But when I look at the score I don't see why it's so difficult except for the double thirds in the last movement. I don't and couldn't play this sonata, but I am interested in some details about why it's considered so hard.

By the way, Richard Goode once said something like the following: each of the sonatas has its own personality and Op. 101 is the type of personality he likes the most.
Posted by: Brendan

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/29/03 06:36 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
Why is Op. 101 considered so difficult? I have heard some famous pianists talk of its difficulty and many people on this board obviously think it's difficult. But when I look at the score I don't see why it's so difficult except for the double thirds in the last movement. I don't and couldn't play this sonata, but I am interested in some details about why it's considered so hard.[/b]
It's one of the most awkward things that Beethoven wrote (along with the finale of op. 106 and the fugue in the Diabelli Variations). Like you said, you can't understand the difficulty of it if you can't play it.

The music is very deep also, taking lots of time to mature.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/29/03 06:43 PM

I've played Op. 101, and here's why it's that hard:

The first movement is difficult where pedalling is concerned. The harmonies change quite often, but you have to keep the phrases long and let them all melt one to the next seamlessly.

The second movement requires a great deal of focus and drive to avoid making the dotted 8th/16th rhythm trivialized into triplets. Articulation is key, without it, the whole march fails. Again, the slow section has some awkward fingering and pedalling moments.

The third movement isn't too bad. \:\)

The fugue isn't bad, as fugues go, but the development section is a bit of a finger twister, especially with all the trills.

Overall, the biggest issue with Op. 101 is that every single note of the piece is important. The composition is that tight - nothing is extraneous. Because of that, you have to be focused and "on-the-ball" from beginning to end, without exception. Sure, parts of Opp. 54, 111, and even 7 might make more demands on your technical equipment from time to time, but 101 is no slouch in that regard, and it demands your thoughtful attention and intellect for every one of its glorious measures.
Posted by: Nina

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/29/03 08:04 PM

Kreisler:

Your analysis of Op. 101 is about as tight and well-composed as the actual sonata! Well said...

Nina
Posted by: Krazypaul

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/29/03 09:18 PM

Nice list you got there. haha, moonlight is around the moderate area...and i still have trouble playing the 3rd movement to the moonlight sonata!

Someone should do a ranked difficulty list on Liszt's hungarian rhapsodies!
Posted by: yangkai

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/30/03 06:10 AM

may i know the title and editor or writer of that piano technique difficulties book? the one in english version. thanks. and the name of the publisher too.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/30/03 07:08 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by yangkai:
may i know the title and editor or writer of that piano technique difficulties book? the one in english version. thanks. and the name of the publisher too.[/b]
This ranking was compiled by me, so it is not definitive. Read back through the thread, and you will see that it is not agreed upon 100%.
Take it with a grain of salt because it is not from a professional musician.
Posted by: da 6th finger

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 06/30/03 07:09 AM

I hear that the fugue in op106 is absurdly difficult. So difficult in fact, that Liszt could not even sight-read it. \:D
Posted by: johnmoonlight

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/01/03 07:32 AM

For those who have played the piece,(or "song" for BeePhlat), does the difficulty in the Hammerklavier come mainly from the fourth movement? How difficult is the slow movement?
Posted by: yangkai

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/01/03 07:50 AM

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by yangkai:
may i know the title and editor or writer of that piano technique difficulties book? the one in english version. thanks. and the name of the publisher too.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This ranking was compiled by me, so it is not definitive. Read back through the thread, and you will see that it is not agreed upon 100%.
Take it with a grain of salt because it is not from a professional musician.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NO!! not the one from u!! there's another book mentioned in this topic, the book tt was in eng version that ranks by 5 different catergory for different songs and has 4 rankings.
Posted by: yangkai

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/01/03 07:56 AM

 Quote:
Alfred Cortot. A masterful work, limited only by a lack of a bottle of ambition/energy/determination to help the aspiring instrumentalist get all that work done! It's available in English, as well, and on better paper than the French editions I've seen.

Only Bach, Handel, etc. Good heavens, man, how much do expect one person to do?
what i meant is this; may i know the title, editor/author and publisher of the ENGLISH version of the book called Principes Rationnels de la Technique Pianistique published by Editions Maurice Senart, (Paris, 1928) ? :p
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/01/03 09:31 AM

Alfred Cortot. Rational principles of pianoforte technique. (Eng. tr. by R. Le Roy-Metaxas)
Publisher: Editions Salabert
22, Rue Chauchat 75009 Paris
Telephone: (1) 48-24-55-60

Cortot considers difficulty in five different categories of technique:
(1) - Equality, independence and mobility of the fingers
(2) - Passing under of the thumb (scales, arpeggios)
(3) - Double notes and polyphonic playing
(4) - Extensions
(5) - Wrist technique, execution of chords

Each category is rated as to 5 degrees of difficulty:

( ) - blank (not worth mentioning)
nd - not difficult
rd - rather difficult
d. - difficult
vd - very difficult

He comments on some Liszt Rhapsodies:

- - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
#2 - d. d. vd d. vd (varied technique, bravura, brilliancy)
#4 - vd d. d. d. vd (evenness, volubility, staccato octaves)
#6 - ( ) vd ( ) d. vd (chord technique, wrist octaves)
#8 - vd vd ( ) d. vd (varied technique, volubility, bravura
#9 - vd vd vd vd vd (complete technique)
10 - ( ) d. vd vd vd (wrist technique, glissando)
11 - vd d. d. d. vd (varied technique, fingers and wrist)
12 - vd d. vd d. vd (complete technique)
13 - vd d. vd d. vd (varied technique, repeated notes and wrist)
14 - vd d. d. d. vd (complete technique)
15 - vd vd ( ) d. vd Rakoczy-March (bravura, brilliancy, chord technique)

Cortot comments: "It will be well not to forget in referring to these qualiications that, in the perfect interpretation of a musical work, it is not the number of notes contained in it which constitutes its real difficulty. As far as we are concerned, we consider the execution of in andante by Mozart or of a Bach Fugue as a higher token of virtuosity than that of a Liszt Rhapsody."

And if you want to know what "volubility" means in the above, you'll have to refer to the original French.
Posted by: Phlebas

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/01/03 09:44 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by yangkai:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by yangkai:
may i know the title and editor or writer of that piano technique difficulties book? the one in english version. thanks. and the name of the publisher too.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This ranking was compiled by me, so it is not definitive. Read back through the thread, and you will see that it is not agreed upon 100%.
Take it with a grain of salt because it is not from a professional musician.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NO!! not the one from u!! there's another book mentioned in this topic, the book tt was in eng version that ranks by 5 different catergory for different songs and has 4 rankings.[/b]
yankai,

Why don't post a little more clearly in first place, so we understand what you are asking?
It would save you getting in a huff when you are misunderstood.

Just a suggestion.

Anyway, here's a link to the one you are asking about (two seconds on amazon.com).

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/det...=glance&s=books

BTW, whatever happened to those missing six Beethoven sonatas? ;\)
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/01/03 10:00 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Brendan:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
Why is Op. 101 considered so difficult? I have heard some famous pianists talk of its difficulty and many people on this board obviously think it's difficult. But when I look at the score I don't see why it's so difficult except for the double thirds in the last movement. I don't and couldn't play this sonata, but I am interested in some details about why it's considered so hard.[/b]
It's one of the most awkward things that Beethoven wrote (along with the finale of op. 106 and the fugue in the Diabelli Variations). Like you said, you can't understand the difficulty of it if you can't play it.

The music is very deep also, taking lots of time to mature.[/b]
But I can see why any of the other technically difficult sonatas(Waldstein, Appasionata, Op. 81, Op. 106 etc) are difficult even though I don't play them. So could you be more specific about why this sonata is so difficult?
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/01/03 04:39 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas:
...BTW, whatever happened to those missing six Beethoven sonatas? ;\) [/b]
There are some small sonatinas without opus that someone may have included in a complete collection. I learned one when I had been playing only about a year (believe me, folks, this is no "I finished the Waldstein for my tenth piano lesson ever" story). I was astonished to see a recording of it by the great British pianist Solomon on a collection of his discs on Pearl. He didn't play it any worse than I did, IMHO. \:D
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/01/03 07:11 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas:
...here's a link to the one you are asking about (two seconds on amazon.com).

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/det...=glance&s=books [/b]
My copy of the Cortot Rational Principles has a 29.95 price sticker on it, so I thought the 59.95 (not including a $2 special service charge) at Amazon was a bit expensive. Checking at www.hutchinsandrea.com gives a price of 29.95. Rvaga at www.sheetmusic1.com can usually offer a discount, and I haven't looked at the price at www.jwpepper.com, but they're probably worth checking out.
Posted by: CrashTest

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/01/03 09:12 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Palindrome:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas:
...here's a link to the one you are asking about (two seconds on amazon.com).

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/det...=glance&s=books [/b]
My copy of the Cortot Rational Principles has a 29.95 price sticker on it, so I thought the 59.95 (not including a $2 special service charge) at Amazon was a bit expensive. Checking at www.hutchinsandrea.com gives a price of 29.95. Rvaga at www.sheetmusic1.com can usually offer a discount, and I haven't looked at the price at www.jwpepper.com, but they're probably worth checking out.[/b]
Is this book worthwhile? Is there a lot of interesting information on it? I have a few books of this sort, such as Bernstein's w/ your own two hands, "Piano notes", and a few others.
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/01/03 10:58 PM

I think it's worthwhile. It's totally comprehensive. The most astonishing part of the whole story, to me, is that even though Cortot produced this very thorough technical work, he (by all reports) ignored it in his own teaching.
Posted by: yangkai

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/03/03 07:58 AM

 Quote:
yankai,

Why don't post a little more clearly in first place, so we understand what you are asking?
It would save you getting in a huff when you are misunderstood.

Just a suggestion.

Anyway, here's a link to the one you are asking about (two seconds on amazon.com).
opps, my fault.. hhaa.. \:D
Posted by: NathanW

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/03/03 01:21 PM

I'm learning my third Beethoven piano sonata, The Waldstein.
I find that the scales opposing the octaves in the last movement are more difficult than the arpeggios.
Posted by: Krazypaul

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/05/03 11:49 AM

Palindrome, did you get that Liszt's hungarian rhapsody analysis from a book or a site? If site, i would like to see it. \:\)
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/05/03 11:56 AM

Krazypaul:

It came from the Rational Principles. I chose to post Cortot's assessment because you had asked for a ranking, and that's as close as he comes. Those are all of the Hungarian Rhapsodies he mentions.
Posted by: Palindrome

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/31/04 10:21 AM

Erased because it duplicates above posts (sorry, but why has this old thread floated to the top again?)
Posted by: signa

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/31/04 09:25 PM

According to this page:

Works without Opus

there are 3 more sonatas (written when Beethoven was in Bonn?).

i heard one of these - "Kurfursten" in midi, which sounds quite nice and easy but i am sure it is not that easy.
Posted by: ballad3

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/31/04 11:15 PM

wow, this thread is old! 0.0
hmmm, i havnt played too much of these sonatas...but i would put 90 below 32/2 ...
Posted by: Badger

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 08/01/04 05:59 AM

Op.90 is at the lower end of the difficulty scale - actually one of the easier ones.

I would put Op.2 No.3 above Op.7

Op.109 is considerably less hard than you list it.

Op.78 is possibly a bit harder due to the second movement.
Posted by: squeaky88th

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 08/01/04 07:06 AM

I've only played Pastorale, and dabbled in Moonlight. I'd think Pathetique is harder then Pastorale. The 3rd movement of Moonlight sounds harder than Pastorale too.

Not to put Pastorale down - it's one of my favorites, which is why I learned it first.
Posted by: David Burton

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 08/07/04 02:18 AM

I was curious about why so many found Op 7 so difficult so it is now on my music desk and I'll report back if I find it more difficult than Op 2 #3 or for that matter Op 31 #3 which I am currently working on. I'm amzed that many find this last one so difficult. To me there are far more difficult ones like Op 81a which I also have played.
Posted by: Marq

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/16/12 03:43 PM

I disagree with parts of this list.

Op. 54 is about the same difficulty as its better-known brethren Op. 53 and Op. 57: the first movement takes a mature musician to make musical sense of the material; and the second movement is absolutely treacherous.

Op. 31 No. 3, Op. 78 and Op. 22 should be well up into the 20s. The slurs second movement of Op. 78 will give your hands quite a beating.
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/16/12 03:44 PM

Originally Posted By: ballad3
wow, this thread is old! 0.0
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/16/12 05:37 PM

Originally Posted By: hawgdriver
Originally Posted By: ballad3
wow, this thread is old! 0.0

Yeah. smile

This is one instance where I'd agree with the naysayers about re-upping old threads. Better to start a new one on the subject, if someone wants to.

Anyway, welcome, Marq. And good job finding this thread. But it would probably be better either to do a new thread, or to find a much more recent one on a similar subject....
Posted by: hawgdriver

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/16/12 06:15 PM

I don't mind that it's old. I've referenced this page a few times, I think it's still useful. I think it makes sense to keep it going--better to have one thread on the subject rather than several.

I just thought it was funny that another poster already claimed it was 'old' nearly 8 years ago!
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/16/12 07:06 PM

Seeing Phlebas' name though is a shock. I miss him.
Posted by: Beethoven747-400

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 03/17/12 02:17 AM

Well, obviously Hammerklavier is the most difficult sonata and his sonata 20 is the easiest but of course it depends on your strong and weak points in playing. For me, the later sonata 26 - 32 are more difficult then his earlier ones.
Posted by: Dennis Ng

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/07/12 11:29 AM

Just wonder one might separate movement e.g. Moonlight mov1 and Pathetique mov2 etc. Trying to see whether one can do a few. I enjoyed his music more than anything else and just like to hear it sound under my fingers. As an old beginner, I think it is not possible to finish even 10%. But may be one can just get your feet wet without olympic swimmer.

Any easy movement if one has teacher and devote at least 1/2 hour per day for practice?
Posted by: Scordatura

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/11/12 05:32 PM

A truly great set of posts, this, as valuable as a rough guide for the unacquainted as it is thought-provoking for anyone for whom the 32 have been staple fare for decades - just what forums are for and all about IMO. Long may it continue growing! (allow it to and, who knows, it could become an acknowledged standard reference!)

There seems to be a quite high order of consensus here, regarding both Phlebus' own rating and those sonatas that posters would rate considerably higher or lower in the list. Op.101's rating interested me greatly. A few years back, I'd have rated it 31 - dauntingly difficult - but since finally getting round to memorizing it, around 5 years ago (after a long period spent working on musicianship and aural skills) it's been one of the sonatas I feel most comfortable playing, so (purely personally) I'd now rate it in the mid-range. A similar story for Les Adieux and Op.22.

Surprises for me are the high-difficulty ratings of Opp.7, 10/3 and 110 which have never troubled my fingers greatly, and on that basis of reckoning I'd rate Opp.53 and 31/2 (outer movements) lower (31/2 much lower), too. Tougher for them are Op.2/2, Op.10/2 (finale), Op.26 (2nd movt), Op.54 (1st movt), Op.57 (1st movt), Op.78 (which I find strangely awkward almost throughout).

But most surprising for me are the ratings (and lack of comment thereto) regarding Opp.31/1 and 27/1, both of which (after 40 years of practising them regularly) I would rate as extremely difficult. Op 31/1 calls for exceptional agility and suppleness, disciplined musicianship and tonal control throughout. The finale of 27/1, though straighforward enough played slowly, is an acknowledged killer at full tempo, even at professional level, on account of its relentless, ungainly semiquaver work - a real test of endurance for anyone whose execution falls short of the perfectly effortless. Anyone have any comments about these two?
Posted by: FreddyChopin

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/22/12 10:12 PM

Thx Marq to bring this topic up. I would like to share my grading list of the Beethoven Sonatas. I also put them in order from 1 to 32, but more importantly in 7 grades accompanied with famous technical/polyphonic studies which can improve your playing of the sonatas. Ranking 32 sonatas is ok, but ranking them in 7 categories is better. Ranking is always someones opinion.

Be sure that playing this 32 sonatas is a very long term task. No one should learn them in sequence on the piano. So learn many other pieces as well smile For the melodic studies play Chopin, Debussy and others. If you want to play the full Beethoven package deal play some Haydn Sonatas first. Remember that Beethoven was a student of Haydn.

Before entering Grade 1. Make sure you played sonatinas of Clementi, Kuhlau & Dussek. They are bundled in the famous album of W. Rauch.

Grade 1
Technical Studies: Czerny - School of Velocity Op.299 No.1-20
Polyphonic Studies: Bach Little Preludes: BWV 924-928, 930, 933-938, 939-943, 999

1 Op. 49#2
2 Op. 49#1


Grade 2
Technical Studies: Czerny - School of Velocity Op.299 No.21-40
Polyphonic Studies: Bach Little Preludes & Fugues: BWV 925, 928, 961, 953, 952

3 Op. 79


Grade 3
Technical Studies: Czerny - The Art of Finger Dexterity Op.740 No.1-24
Polyphonic Studies: Bach French Suites: No.6,2,3,4

4 Op. 14#1
5 Op. 14#2
6 Op. 10#1


Grade 4
Technical Studies: Czerny - The Art of Finger Dexterity Op.740 No.25-50
Polyphonic Studies:
Bach French Suites: No.5,1
Bach Well-Tempered Clavier:
book 1, No.5,2,6,16,10,21,11,13
book 2, No.6,1,7,9,12,15,16,24

7 Op. 2#1
8 Op. 10#2

Grade 5
Technical Studies:
Moszkowski Etudes Op.72
Czerny Toccata Op.92
Polyphonic Studies:
Bach English Suites
Bach Italian Concert
Bach Well-Tempered Clavier:
book 1, No.1,3,7,9,12,14,15,17,18,19,22,23
book 2, No.2,8,11,5,10

9 Op. 10#3
10 Op. 13
11 Op. 26
12 Op. 22
13 Op. 28
14 Op. 2#2
15 Op. 2#3
16 Op. 7
17 Op. 27#1
18 Op. 31#3
19 Op. 27#2
20 Op. 31#1
21 Op. 31#2


Grade 6
Technical Studies:
Schumann Paganini-Etudes Op. 3 & Op.10
Brahms Paganini-Etudes Op.35
Polyphonic Studies:
Bach Well-Tempered Clavier:
Book 1: No. 4, 8, 17
Book 2: No.14,18,20,23

22 Op.90
23 Op.78
24 Op.54
25 Op.81a
26 Op.53
27 Op.57


Grade 7
Technical Studies:
Liszt Paganini-Etudes
Liszt Transcendental Etudes
Polyphonic Studies:
Bach Well-Tempered Clavier:
Book 1: No.20, 24
Book 2: No.22


28 Op.101
29 Op.109
30 Op.110
31 Op.111
32 Op.106
Posted by: drumour

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 05:51 AM

This is a list I submitted for another thread. It is taken from the 2-volume edition by Liszt and published by Boswell. The ordering may be Liszt's, I don't really know.

Volume one

1 Op49 No2
2 Op49 No1
3 Op79
4 Op14 No2
5 Op14 No1
6 Op2 No1
7 Op10 No1
8 Op10 No2
9 Op2 No2
10 Op2 No3
11 Op10 No3
12 Op13
13 Op22
14 Op28
15 Op7
16 Op78
17 Op26
18 Op31 No3


Volume two

19 Op31 No1
20 Op90
21 Op27 No1
22 Op27 No2
23 Op54
24 Op31 No2
25 Op53
26 Op81a
27 Op57
28 Op101
29 Op110
30 Op109
31 Op111
32 Op106


John
Posted by: Scordatura

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 04:25 PM

Thanks, Freddy and drumour for your respective lists. It's most interesting how similar they are, and their rankings are pretty close to how I'd rank them myself from a pedagogical standpoint (i.e. as a guide for the uninitiated). I'm greatly looking forward, Freddy, to studying your ancillary material in conjunction with the particular sonatas you've proposed; your general approach to tackling the cycle strikes me as immensely valuable and based in a long and intimate experience of involvement with it. As for your list, drumour, I remember poring avidly over this as a 15-year-old beginner itching to play everything Beethoven wrote for the piano and (at any rate, for the first 4 or 5 sonatas I tackled) following its suggest order of study. Over the 4+ decades since then I've never managed to track it down , so I'm thoroughly delighted and grateful to be able to refer to it again!

A propos my earlier post to this topic - in response to Phlebas' OP - it's interesting to note, here too, the high positioning of Op.31/2. This is one of the set that I took to like a duck to water whilst still very inexpert technically, and it's always remained one of the easiest for me. Such difficulties as it has presented for me I've always found possible to master straightforwardly simply through applying ordinary musicianship skills sufficiently rigourously, and thereafter my fingers knew what to do. (If only it were like that with all the repertoire!) However, posters other than myself seem not to dispute that the sonata is pretty difficult. Given that, I'd be most eager to read anyone's remarks regarding what passages they find particularly troublesome (and in what respect), or about their more general difficulties with particular movements or with the work as a whole.

Any thoughts on this?
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 04:29 PM

what Beethoven Sonatas do you play Scordatura? smile
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 05:15 PM

Whenever I see 110 placed near the most difficult of the list-- and I usually do-- I think: this list is not going to be meaningful to me.


-J
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 05:23 PM

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.


-J
Why is that?
Posted by: ScriabinAddict

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 05:24 PM

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.


-J


I usually say the same when I see Op. 7 near the bottom.
Posted by: ScriabinAddict

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 05:29 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Why is that?


"Technically" speaking, It doesn't quite compare to the other late sonatas.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 05:34 PM

Originally Posted By: ScriabinAddict
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Why is that?


"Technically" speaking, I doesn't quite compare to the other late sonatas.


Well, a fugue is a fugue wink Anyway, don't you guys feel the same way when you see the Op 90 ranked so high as well?
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 05:51 PM

Op. 90 is hard though....

It confuses me when I see op.101 placing as less difficult than op.110 as well...
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:00 PM

Hard yes, but THAT hard to hit the right notes? No.
Posted by: Scordatura

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
what Beethoven Sonatas do you play Scordatura? smile


All 32. In principle, the only ones I'd (so far) shy away from performing publicly are Opp 106 (because I don't know the notes well enough to get through the whole work comfortably at a reasonable pace) and 27/1 (on account of its relentless finale, which I find uniquely taxing in terms of achieving sufficiently controlled, musically guaged execution). Both remain works in progress. In practice, right now I wouldn't be up to performing any of them, thanks to a current spurt of osteoarthritis affecting the fingers of my right hand!
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:01 PM

Impressing! Very impressing. Are you a professional? Have you played the piano your whole life? smile
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Hard yes, but THAT hard to hit the right notes? No.

Aww you're nice. And yeah, it's pretty hard to hit the right notes...
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:07 PM

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Hard yes, but THAT hard to hit the right notes? No.

Aww you're nice. And yeah, it's pretty hard to hit the right notes...
Hehe, would you be so kind and explain why so? smile
Posted by: stores

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:09 PM

See why it is so ridiculous to rank things like this? It's impossible, because difficulty is an individual thing. Why do we need these kinds of lists anyway? What's the point?
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:16 PM

Well, the alberti bass in 10ths in the first movement is hard, as well the end of the development with weaving hands. The right hand figures are tough too. Then in the second movement you have ornamentation in running 16th figures, as well as dense writing for both hands, which makes voicing and balance a challenge.

Then there are the musical difficulties.

I'm not trying to point out that it's the hardest, just that it is hard and deserving to be on the upper half of the difficulty scale...it's also hard to just conceptualize and make into a coherent piece that flows from section to section (especially in the rondo).
Posted by: ScriabinAddict

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:19 PM

Originally Posted By: stores
See why it is so ridiculous to rank things like this? It's impossible, because difficulty is an individual thing. Why do we need these kinds of lists anyway? What's the point?


As a student, I can see somewhat of an appeal. "I have played x, and I'm approximately this far away from y." This should be the least of your worries however, and it's certainly possible to find out for yourself without much effort.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:22 PM

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.
Posted by: Jorleyy

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:24 PM

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?
Posted by: Scordatura

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:42 PM

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.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 06:54 PM

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
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 07:34 PM

Could someone please rank all the works in the standard piano literature in order?
Posted by: ScriabinAddict

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 07:35 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Could someone please rank all the works in the standard piano literature in order?


Just the standard literature?
Posted by: Scordatura

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 08:09 PM

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!
Posted by: Scordatura

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 08:17 PM

Oops, that was meant to be a PM as it's totally off-topic - sincere apologies to all!
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 10:32 PM

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.
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 10:37 PM

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
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 10:41 PM

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.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 10:51 PM

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...
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 11:05 PM

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.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 11:32 PM

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.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/23/12 11:51 PM

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...
Posted by: Scordatura

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/24/12 09:38 AM

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.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/24/12 11:06 AM

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.
Posted by: sandalholme

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 07/24/12 12:23 PM

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.
Posted by: Scordatura

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 08/19/12 02:18 PM

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)
Posted by: LaReginadellaNotte

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 08/19/12 03:51 PM

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.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 08/19/12 06:34 PM

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?
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 08/19/12 06:58 PM

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.
Posted by: RubberFingers

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 12:40 PM

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?
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 04:56 PM

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
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 05:03 PM

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.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 05:43 PM

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...
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 05:45 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
The Hammerklavier is miles harder than Chopin's Op 52, both technically and musically.


Thank goodness!
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 05:49 PM

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.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 05:53 PM

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.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 05:55 PM

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.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 05:56 PM

I can name some Beethoven sonatas that I would consider harder than the 4th Ballade in terms of hitting the right notes at the right speed(whatever that means):
Op 53, Op 57, Op 81a, Op 106, Op 111.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 05:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
I can name some Beethoven sonatas that I would consider harder than the 4th Ballade in terms of hitting the right notes at the right speed(whatever that means):
Op 53, Op 57, Op 81a, Op 106, Op 111.

Okay, that may be true. What I do know is that Opus 52 is musically harder than 53, 57, and 81a, from what I've observed.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 05:58 PM

Sorry about that. I mentioned these other pieces to show that if we speak about "velocity" or "hitting the right notes" then I consider the difficulty of the 4th Ballade being overrated; it's not harder than all the late sonatas. The really hard thing about that piece is to make it work as a whole and to voice it properly and make it sound right.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 06:00 PM

I think everything is equally as hard to play well.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 06:01 PM

That's what they have been doing all the time in this thread. Why argue about anything?
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 06:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Sorry about that. I mentioned these other pieces to show that if we speak about "velocity" or "hitting the right notes" then I consider the difficulty of the 4th Ballade being overrated; it's not harder than all the late sonatas. The really hard thing about that piece is to make it work as a whole and to voice it properly and make it sound right.

...which is a task no one has ever accomplished satisfactorily.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 06:03 PM

You changed your post wink I agree with you; everything is hard to play well. That's why we mentioned "hitting the right notes at the right speed". In terms of playing everything well, then a Mozart Sonata can be just as hard if not harder than a Liszt Etude for a technically proficient pianist.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 06:06 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Sorry about that. I mentioned these other pieces to show that if we speak about "velocity" or "hitting the right notes" then I consider the difficulty of the 4th Ballade being overrated; it's not harder than all the late sonatas. The really hard thing about that piece is to make it work as a whole and to voice it properly and make it sound right.

...which is a task no one has ever accomplished satisfactorily.

I think Richter does it satisfactorily wink
I have never heard a pianist play the late SCHUBERT sonatas completely satisfactorily though(Richter comes close), those are HARD pieces wink Actually, who plays anything completely satisfactorily? I can't name a pianist who I think plays Chopin's Op 48 No 1 even close to satisfactorily; is that because it's the hardest piece Chopin ever wrote?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 06:12 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
You changed your post wink I agree with you; everything is hard to play well. That's why we mentioned "hitting the right notes at the right speed". In terms of playing everything well, then a Mozart Sonata can be just as hard if not harder than a Liszt Etude for a technically proficient pianist.


Yeah.. I realized how crucial pointless arguing is to these forums. smile

And I agree with the Mozart statement.
Posted by: stores

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 06:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
In terms of playing everything well, then a Mozart Sonata can be just as hard if not harder than a Liszt Etude for a technically proficient pianist.


Quite true.

Joel, you seemed relieved a few posts back when someone stated that Op. 52 was "easier" than the Hammerklavier (and a few other LvB sonatas), but that doesn't mean it's easy... technically, or musically. That said, many of the Beethoven sonatas are quite a bit more difficult than the fminor.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 06:38 PM

Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
In terms of playing everything well, then a Mozart Sonata can be just as hard if not harder than a Liszt Etude for a technically proficient pianist.


Quite true.

Joel, you seemed relieved a few posts back when someone stated that Op. 52 was "easier" than the Hammerklavier (and a few other LvB sonatas), but that doesn't mean it's easy... technically, or musically. That said, many of the Beethoven sonatas are quite a bit more difficult than the fminor.


I was making a subtle statement of my musical taste. laugh
Posted by: carey

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 06:39 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Actually, who plays anything completely satisfactorily? I can't name a pianist who I think plays Chopin's Op 48 No 1 even close to satisfactorily; is that because it's the hardest piece Chopin ever wrote?


Completely satisfactorily according to WHO ??? crazy

I'm sure if you do a little research you'll find several pianists who can do better than "close to satisfactorily" with the Opus 48 No. 1. And no - it isn't the hardest piece that Chopin ever wrote...but it IS a handful !! grin
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 06:54 PM

Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Actually, who plays anything completely satisfactorily? I can't name a pianist who I think plays Chopin's Op 48 No 1 even close to satisfactorily; is that because it's the hardest piece Chopin ever wrote?


Completely satisfactorily according to WHO ??? crazy

I'm sure if you do a little research you'll find several pianists who can do better than "close to satisfactorily" with the Opus 48 No. 1. And no - it isn't the hardest piece that Chopin ever wrote...but it IS a handful !! grin

Listened to every possible recording on youtube. Not a single one I find good enough... Maybe it's something wrong with the piece... shocked
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 06:55 PM

Or with me?
Posted by: stores

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/28/13 09:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Or with me?


I think not (some would agree with that a bit further). I understand you completely. There are many works I know, of which, I have heard numerous performances and nary an instance have I found even one to be completely in tune with my inner ear. Such is the personal fingerprint we all leave on any work we play. The best that you can hope to do is put forth your own rendering.
Posted by: carey

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 01:24 AM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Actually, who plays anything completely satisfactorily? I can't name a pianist who I think plays Chopin's Op 48 No 1 even close to satisfactorily; is that because it's the hardest piece Chopin ever wrote?
Completely satisfactorily according to WHO ??? crazy I'm sure if you do a little research you'll find several pianists who can do better than "close to satisfactorily" with the Opus 48 No. 1. And no - it isn't the hardest piece that Chopin ever wrote...but it IS a handful !! grin
Listened to every possible recording on youtube. Not a single one I find good enough... Maybe it's something wrong with the piece... shocked

If you heard a recording of Chopin himself playing the Opus 48 No. 1 you'd probably be disappointed. smile
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 01:28 AM

Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Actually, who plays anything completely satisfactorily? I can't name a pianist who I think plays Chopin's Op 48 No 1 even close to satisfactorily; is that because it's the hardest piece Chopin ever wrote?
Completely satisfactorily according to WHO ??? crazy I'm sure if you do a little research you'll find several pianists who can do better than "close to satisfactorily" with the Opus 48 No. 1. And no - it isn't the hardest piece that Chopin ever wrote...but it IS a handful !! grin
Listened to every possible recording on youtube. Not a single one I find good enough... Maybe it's something wrong with the piece... shocked

If you heard a recording of Chopin himself playing the Opus 48 No. 1 you'd probably be disappointed. smile


Or very pleased.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 03:14 AM

Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Or with me?


I think not (some would agree with that a bit further). I understand you completely. There are many works I know, of which, I have heard numerous performances and nary an instance have I found even one to be completely in tune with my inner ear. Such is the personal fingerprint we all leave on any work we play. The best that you can hope to do is put forth your own rendering.

Yes. I somehow feel that this is one of these pieces that are better in Plato's idea world than in this external world wink I myself find it extremely hard to make it sound the way I hear it in my mind.
Posted by: stores

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 06:43 AM

Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Actually, who plays anything completely satisfactorily? I can't name a pianist who I think plays Chopin's Op 48 No 1 even close to satisfactorily; is that because it's the hardest piece Chopin ever wrote?
Completely satisfactorily according to WHO ??? crazy I'm sure if you do a little research you'll find several pianists who can do better than "close to satisfactorily" with the Opus 48 No. 1. And no - it isn't the hardest piece that Chopin ever wrote...but it IS a handful !! grin
Listened to every possible recording on youtube. Not a single one I find good enough... Maybe it's something wrong with the piece... shocked

If you heard a recording of Chopin himself playing the Opus 48 No. 1 you'd probably be disappointed. smile


Of course, we would all be ecstatic to the point of insanity to have the chance to hear Chopin play, but I think we'd all be highly disappointed were we to bring him back to the world in 2013. He would have one heck of a rough time with today's pianos (as would all of my favorite composers).
Posted by: PrestoConFuocco

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 06:53 AM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Actually, who plays anything completely satisfactorily? I can't name a pianist who I think plays Chopin's Op 48 No 1 even close to satisfactorily; is that because it's the hardest piece Chopin ever wrote?


Completely satisfactorily according to WHO ??? crazy

I'm sure if you do a little research you'll find several pianists who can do better than "close to satisfactorily" with the Opus 48 No. 1. And no - it isn't the hardest piece that Chopin ever wrote...but it IS a handful !! grin

Listened to every possible recording on youtube. Not a single one I find good enough... Maybe it's something wrong with the piece... shocked


Firstly, have you listened to Valentina Igoshina? Shes great.
Secondly, just because there isn't a version you like doesn't mean it's the hardest, it a matter of taste. (Usually when you really love a piece you never find a version that satisfies you, maybe that's the problem.)
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 11:56 AM

I didn't mean that the Nocturne was the hardest piece -.- That was the point of my post, to show that it's always right to say that the hardest piece must be the one which is less often played well...
Posted by: PrestoConFuocco

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 01:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
I didn't mean that the Nocturne was the hardest piece -.- That was the point of my post, to show that it's always right to say that the hardest piece must be the one which is less often played well...


Oh I guess that's what happens when I comment without reading everything :P
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 02:26 PM

Originally Posted By: PrestoConFuocco
(Usually when you really love a piece you never find a version that satisfies you, maybe that's the problem.)


Not for me.
Posted by: PrestoConFuocco

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 02:33 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: PrestoConFuocco
(Usually when you really love a piece you never find a version that satisfies you, maybe that's the problem.)


Not for me.


Then you're a lucky fellow.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 02:34 PM

In fact, what usually gets me to love a piece in the first place is hearing a performance that DOES satisfy me.
Posted by: PrestoConFuocco

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 03:28 PM

That's the case for most pieces, but sometimes it's very disappointing that performers don't get as excited as you about a piece while playing. (Kind of hard to explain to somebody that never feels it... I give up.)
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 03:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Actually, who plays anything completely satisfactorily? I can't name a pianist who I think plays Chopin's Op 48 No 1 even close to satisfactorily; is that because it's the hardest piece Chopin ever wrote?


Completely satisfactorily according to WHO ??? crazy

I'm sure if you do a little research you'll find several pianists who can do better than "close to satisfactorily" with the Opus 48 No. 1. And no - it isn't the hardest piece that Chopin ever wrote...but it IS a handful !! grin

Listened to every possible recording on youtube. Not a single one I find good enough... Maybe it's something wrong with the piece... shocked


I don't know whether I should admire the refinement and elegant discernment of those who are never satisfied with performances that they hear - even by great musicians - or whether to be sorry that it appears that you cannot fully appreciate good performances for what they are, but always find them lacking.

I, for one, must have less refinement in my demands and in my tastes than some of you, for I find that many, many performances please me to the degree that can I bask in them and enjoy them for what they are without feeling a lack in them for what they are not.

Regards,
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 04:33 PM

That's great BruceD smile I just think in a way, that some pieces are of such a high order, that they are better inside your head than when heard... It's sounds weird and it's hard to explain, but often the idea is better than the reality maybe?
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 04:59 PM

How can any amateur pianist(or even a high level professional)think they know more about how a piece should sound that any of the greatest pianists?

Do you actually think that if you had the technique to do whatever you wanted your interpretation would be superior, more beautiful, more exciting, etc. than any of those recorded by even the greatest pianists?

Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 05:02 PM

That's not what I am saying. I don't think you understand my point unfortunately. The whole thing about interpreting music and the difficulty about is, is to try understanding the real idea of the composer and the piece. Just as with everything; moral, ethics, art, human and god...
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 05:03 PM

No I don't think that. Because the beauty is within us: I would never be able to make the piece sound the way I want even if I was the greatest pianist on earth. That's why art is hard.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 05:04 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
That's not what I am saying. I don't think you understand my point unfortunately. The whole thing about interpreting music and the difficulty about is, is to try understanding the real idea of the composer and the piece. Just as with everything; moral, ethics, art, human and god...
So you understand the real idea of the composer and the piece more than any of the greatest pianists?
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 05:06 PM

No. But I do understand the point of music, which is that the idea is even better than reality. The idea is always one, not thousands. There is one truth. But nobody can grasp it, just imitate it.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 05:10 PM

Listen to that opera of Schoenberg! The whole message of that opera is just this(don't remember the name of the opera but maybe you know which one?): A man carries an idea, but he is not capable enough to show us his idea; so he gives the greatest interpreter of them all the job to show us this idea. But in the end, this interpreter can't, because it's not HIS idea. The idea becomes bad when shown in reality. Just like one can say that God had an idea about mankind and how mankind would be good: But in reality, mankind wasn't and isn't capable of being as good as she is in God's idea.
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 05:11 PM

Have you ever read Plato? If not, do it smile
Posted by: carey

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 07:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Listen to that opera of Schoenberg! The whole message of that opera is just this(don't remember the name of the opera but maybe you know which one?): A man carries an idea, but he is not capable enough to show us his idea; so he gives the greatest interpreter of them all the job to show us this idea. But in the end, this interpreter can't, because it's not HIS idea. The idea becomes bad when shown in reality. Just like one can say that God had an idea about mankind and how mankind would be good: But in reality, mankind wasn't and isn't capable of being as good as she is in God's idea.


He composed four operas - which one are you thinking of (obviously not Moses und Aron) grin

Erwartung
Die glückliche Hand
Moses und Aron
Von heute auf morgen
Posted by: carey

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 07:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
The whole thing about interpreting music and the difficulty about it, is to try understanding the real idea of the composer and the piece.


We can try to understand the "real idea" of the composer and the piece, but only the composer knows (or knew) for sure.

I remember watching a video of Aaron Copland playing his Piano Variations. I was surprised - and just a little amused - at his interpretation of the piece. My own understanding of the work (and apparently that of other pianists I've heard play it) was a tad different than Mr. Copland's. So who's right??? grin

When Copland premiered the work himself back in 1931 at a meeting of the League of Composers in NYC, it was met with some indifference. Copland's hardness of touch seemed to alienate the critics...but apparently that's how he himself "perceived" the work - even though the written score implied something else.

Of course - this really doesn't have much to do with Beethoven....or does it??
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 07:54 PM

I've seen Chopin's large works ranked in groups of difficulty. Can someone do that with these Sonatas?
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 07:57 PM

Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
The whole thing about interpreting music and the difficulty about it, is to try understanding the real idea of the composer and the piece.


We can try to understand the "real idea" of the composer and the piece, but only the composer knows (or knew) for sure.

I remember watching a video of Aaron Copland playing his Piano Variations. I was surprised - and just a little amused - at his interpretation of the piece. My own understanding of the work (and apparently that of other pianists I've heard play it) was a tad different than Mr. Copland's. So who's right??? grin

When Copland premiered the work himself back in 1931 at a meeting of the League of Composers in NYC, it was met with some indifference. Copland's hardness of touch seemed to alienate the critics...but apparently that's how he himself "perceived" the work - even though the written score implied something else.

Of course - this really doesn't have much to do with Beethoven....or does it??
Maybe sometimes the composer doesn't even know :O(joke)
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 07:57 PM

You mean Chopin's or Beethoven's Sonatas?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 08:11 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
You mean Chopin's or Beethoven's Sonatas?


Beethoven.
Posted by: Damon

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 10:31 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
I've seen Chopin's large works ranked in groups of difficulty. Can someone do that with these Sonatas?


Yes. The first one is the easiest and the rest get increasingly harder.
Posted by: carey

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/29/13 10:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
The whole thing about interpreting music and the difficulty about it, is to try understanding the real idea of the composer and the piece.
We can try to understand the "real idea" of the composer and the piece, but only the composer knows (or knew) for sure. I remember watching a video of Aaron Copland playing his Piano Variations. I was surprised - and just a little amused - at his interpretation of the piece. My own understanding of the work (and apparently that of other pianists I've heard play it) was a tad different than Mr. Copland's. So who's right??? grin When Copland premiered the work himself back in 1931 at a meeting of the League of Composers in NYC, it was met with some indifference. Copland's hardness of touch seemed to alienate the critics...but apparently that's how he himself "perceived" the work - even though the written score implied something else. Of course - this really doesn't have much to do with Beethoven....or does it??
Maybe sometimes the composer doesn't even know :O(joke)

Exactly !!!!! thumb
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/30/13 03:54 AM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Franz Beebert
You mean Chopin's or Beethoven's Sonatas?


Beethoven.

Check the beginning of this thread wink
Posted by: drumour

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/30/13 04:37 AM

This is a list I submitted for another thread. It is taken from the 2-volume edition by Liszt and published by Boswell. The ordering may be Liszt's, I don't really know.

Volume one

1 Op49 No2
2 Op49 No1
3 Op79
4 Op14 No2
5 Op14 No1
6 Op2 No1
7 Op10 No1
8 Op10 No2
9 Op2 No2
10 Op2 No3
11 Op10 No3
12 Op13
13 Op22
14 Op28
15 Op7
16 Op78
17 Op26
18 Op31 No3


Volume two

19 Op31 No1
20 Op90
21 Op27 No1
22 Op27 No2
23 Op54
24 Op31 No2
25 Op53
26 Op81a
27 Op57
28 Op101
29 Op110
30 Op109
31 Op111
32 Op106


John

I hadn't realised I'd posted this earlier in this thread. Oh well.
Posted by: Michael Sayers

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/30/13 07:28 AM

Originally Posted By: drumour
This is a list I submitted for another thread. It is taken from the 2-volume edition by Liszt and published by Boswell. The ordering may be Liszt's, I don't really know.

Volume one

1 Op49 No2
2 Op49 No1
3 Op79
4 Op14 No2
5 Op14 No1
6 Op2 No1
7 Op10 No1
8 Op10 No2
9 Op2 No2
10 Op2 No3
11 Op10 No3
12 Op13
13 Op22
14 Op28
15 Op7
16 Op78
17 Op26
18 Op31 No3


Volume two

19 Op31 No1
20 Op90
21 Op27 No1
22 Op27 No2
23 Op54
24 Op31 No2
25 Op53
26 Op81a
27 Op57
28 Op101
29 Op110
30 Op109
31 Op111
32 Op106


John

I hadn't realised I'd posted this earlier in this thread. Oh well.

The copy of the Liszt edition I examined presented the sonatas in the standard order. Is this alternate ordering something in a preface that has been added?


M.
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/30/13 11:17 AM

Originally Posted By: drumour
This is a list I submitted for another thread. It is taken from the 2-volume edition by Liszt and published by Boswell. The ordering may be Liszt's, I don't really know.

I've found it surprisingly hard, in this information age, to find a definitive listing of Liszt's difficulty ordering of the sonatas. I remember hearing that he ranked op.7 very near the hardest on the list, so I don't think this is it.

-J
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/30/13 01:48 PM

This would be my list:

1 Op49 No2
2 Op49 No1
3 Op79
4 Op14 No2
5 Op14 No1
6 Op2 No1
7 Op10 No2
8 Op2 No2
9 Op10 No1
10 Op26
11 Op10 No3
12 Op13
13 Op31 No2
14 Op27 No1
15 Op27 No2
16 Op22
17 Op31 No3
18 Op28
19 Op31 No1
20 Op54
21 Op90
22 Op2 No3
23 Op7
24 Op78
25 Op81a
26 Op57
27 Op53
28 Op110
29 Op109
30 Op111
31 Op101
32 Op106
Posted by: Franz Beebert

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/30/13 03:09 PM

Have you played all 32 sonatas jeffreyjones? I haven't, but from those I have played, I see many things I really disagree with on that list: Op 10 no 3 is definitely harder than plenty of the pieces ahead of it. I also would say that Op 26 is harder than Op 13, Op 27 No 1 is MUCH harder than Op 27 No 2. Op 90 is easier than Op 10 No 3, actually, those two could pretty much switch places IMO. I am not gonna rank all 32 because I haven't played them all; also I consider it impossible to rank pieces, because you learn them in different stages of your life, and therefore you find them easier/harder depending on when you learn them. But the sonatas I have played are: Op 10 No 3, Op 13, Op 26, Op 27 No 1, Op 27 No 2, Op 49 No 1, Op 90 and Op 109. Out of these pieces, I had the hardest time learning Op 27 No 1, even harder than Op 109 for me. Though Op 109 is hard to make sound good, I still had a much easier time learning it than I would have expected. Op 90 was also alot easier than I thought it would be, except the alberti bass in tenths in the first movement. Op 10 No 3 was way harder than Pathetique and Moonlight for me. Op 26 was also harder than Moonlight and Pathetique; try playing the last movement of that sonata at the same tempo as Emil Gilels plays it(I think he plays this sonata the best), it's insanely difficult.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/30/13 03:28 PM

I really don't understand the obsession that some appear to have with precisely ranking each and every Beethoven Sonata in order of difficulty relative to all the other Beethoven Sonatas. Since we each have different strengths and weaknesses - both musical and technical - the whole question seems an exercise in futility.

It becomes absurd when one person will argue with another person's ranking of the order of difficulty, but, then again, the whole idea seems somewhat absurd to me.

What's the point?
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/30/13 03:41 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
What's the point?

It's fun. That's all. If it's not fun for you, that's fine... but it is for some of us.

Just did op.2/2, and it's not clear to me that its first movement is significantly easier than op.57's first movement, because it goes so fast.... I'm surprised to find it so low on various lists.

-J
Posted by: drumour

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 09/30/13 06:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Michael Sayers

The copy of the Liszt edition I examined presented the sonatas in the standard order. Is this alternate ordering something in a preface that has been added?


M.


It's the order in which the sonatas are presented in that edition. I, unfortunately, only have the first volume. I sent away, at great expense, for what I thought was volume two, but it was volume 2 of the standard ordering - and a facimile of a poor quality 19th century edition with poor quality cover to boot.

John
Posted by: Michael Sayers

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 10/01/13 01:16 AM

Originally Posted By: drumour
Originally Posted By: Michael Sayers

The copy of the Liszt edition I examined presented the sonatas in the standard order. Is this alternate ordering something in a preface that has been added?


M.


It's the order in which the sonatas are presented in that edition. I, unfortunately, only have the first volume. I sent away, at great expense, for what I thought was volume two, but it was volume 2 of the standard ordering - and a facimile of a poor quality 19th century edition with poor quality cover to boot.

John

At the time I obtained a copy it seems to have been out of print except for an edition out of the orient which I obtained through interlibrary loan. Even with the standard ordering of the sonatas it was definitely Liszt's edition and it detailed his various small changes to the sonatas - it was all 32 sonatas in one volume.

I like the ordering based on difficulty. If someone with a limited amount of time for it wants to learn a Beethoven sonata this makes it quite easy to identify one neither too challenging or too easy.


M.
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: Beethoven Sonatas ranked by difficulty - 10/01/13 12:43 PM

Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: BruceD
What's the point?

It's fun. That's all. If it's not fun for you, that's fine... but it is for some of us.

Just did op.2/2, and it's not clear to me that its first movement is significantly easier than op.57's first movement, because it goes so fast.... I'm surprised to find it so low on various lists.

-J


I find that 2/2 is not as difficult as it looks, because the fingerwork is kind to the fingers. It's fast and sometimes tricky, but it can be overcome with the right approach. There's hardly a single bar in Op. 57, or 101, or 106 that is comfortable to play even after you've practiced them extensively. I also put Op. 78 in that category but it's not as hard.