The Hardest Piano Pieces

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A piano is one of the oldest and versatile musical instruments. Musicians have used it to write impressive music pieces. However, some of these piano pieces are hard. Pianists and piano teachers constantly get confronted on the hardest piano pieces. Even though a piano piece’s technical difficulty does not gauge its composition quality, every pianist has individual conditions, Weaknesses, and strengths.

1. Hammerklavier Sonata

Hammerklavier Sonata, the nickname for Beethoven’s No. 29, Op. 106 in B flat major, is one of the hardest piano pieces. The sonata is one of Beethoven’s latest pieces from the eighteenth century. It can be played well on an 18th century piano. Hammerklavier Sonata is considered a monumental work that is unplayable.

The piano piece is not performed frequently because of its difficulty. It was last performed publicly by a well-known piano, virtuoso Franz Liszt, decades after Beethoven’s demise. Beethoven’s piano pieces are on another level. They were often ahead of time and paid minimal attention to instruments’ technical standards. This made his piano pieces famous as he often received criticism of his context.

2. Franz Liszt’s La Campanella

Franz Liszt’s Little Bell is considered the hardest piano song as it needs vast extreme leaps done at fast, dizzying speed with the right hand. The thumb brings out the tune but with D-sharps repeating in the pinky act like a twinkling bell. La Campanella is a Paganini, one of the renowned virtuosic violinists, melody arrangement.

3. Gaspard de la nuit by Ravel

Gaspard de la Nuit is among Maurice Ravel’s important piano pieces published in 1908. The piano piece sets vital standards in the world of music and piano literature. Ravel believes in composing piano pieces that surpass Balakirev’s requirements.

The outcome of this is a new virtuosity peak. Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit’s good thing is that its tonal composition is challenging to the pianist, and it’s technically the hardest piano piece. The piece’s most challenging passages are played quietly with minimal volume gradation to help one achieve specific effects and rhythms.

4. Islamey by Balakirev

Many years after the demise of Beethoven, another piano piece with claims to be the hardest piano song. Islamey was composed and published in 1870 in Moscow by Mili Alexejewitsch Balakirev. The piano piece is eight minutes long. An interpreter is needed to accrue everything a world-class virtuoso can grasp. Islam’s jumps runs and octaves must be mastered with extreme precision at a high tempo. Fanatics describe Islamey as a piano piece with a technically complex composition.

5. Opus clavicembalisticum by Sorabji

Just like its name, the piano piece is hard to pronounce and technically challenging to play. The piece lasts for several hours, utilizing twelve movements across a piano. After composing this hardest piano piece, Sorabji notes that the last four pages of the piece are more catastrophic and disastrous than any other piece he has ever written.

6. Hungarian Rhapsody by Franz Liszt

Hungarian Rhapsody is one of the well-known piano pieces featured in the famous play “Tom and Jerry” and the most complex piano song list. The piano piece has a Friska and dramatic lassan with tangling chords, run, and huge leaps that need a high level of accuracy and skill. While the piece can be frustrating, it is rewarding. It has an iconic melody that shows the song was composed to be performed publicly.

7. Petrushka by Stravinsky

Petrushka is a piano ballet composed and published by Igor Stravinsky, a Russian composer. The piece was first performed in the orchestral version in 1911. Later after ten years, Stravinsky composed a three-piece sonata piano based on his friend Arthur Rubinstein’s score.

When Igor Stravinsky was composing the song, there were no advanced piano and virtuosos. Only a few pianists have mastered the art of performing the music. There is no doubt Petrushka comes from piano literature milestones.

8. Piano Sonata No. 18 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed the piano sonata in 1789 as a six-set part for Prussia Princess Friederike. The piano piece is always known as the Trumpet Sonata or The Hunt. A piano sonata is one of the most difficult piano pieces, with a performance duration of fifteen minutes. While most pianists doubt whether the piece is hard to play, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s piano pieces are known to be demanding and technically challenging to handle.

9. Piano Concerto No. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninoff

When Sergei Rachmaninoff composed Concerto No. 3, he aimed to dazzle and entertain his first American audience. If one ask any classical pianist on the most difficult piano song, there is an excellent possibility of mentioning Piano Concerto. This piano piece is enlisted in the list of ten best piano songs despite being one of the complex piano pieces that require great passion and virtuosity for outstanding performance.

What Makes a Piano Piece Hard?

The difficulty of a song to play on a piano depends on its technical strain­­- huge bounds, fast fingers, and compact chords. Amateurs understand that playing fast on a piano is not easy. A classical pianist needs to be able to play a dense musical score, usually playing several notes simultaneously. A jazz pianist needs to know how to develop artistic licks and riffs while progressing through the complex chords.

Even though most of these hardest piano pieces are classical pieces, they require a pianist’s excellent skills musically and technically. Most of these hardest music pieces were composed recently. They are both technically challenging yet melodic. Below is a list of the most difficult piano pieces.


The above piano pieces are considered the most difficult piano pieces ever to exist, but they are not accessible to everyone. Piano teachers and professional pianists go through years of training to handle some of these complex piano pieces. However, that doesn’t mean anyone should give up on their passion and desire to try out one of these difficult piano pieces. Just because the piece was technically difficult doesn’t mean they are good to listen to. Some of these experimental pieces are interesting but not pleasing to the ear for everyone. The aim of listening to music is to find solace.

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Bobby is a viola player who currently lives in Seattle. He has been playing viola for over 20 years in various orchestras.


  1. If a piece of music is not sung by a singer with words it is not a song it is a piece or a work.
    It is musically ignorant to refer to Petrushka or the Rachmaninov No 3 concerto as songs. Petrushka is a ballet and Rachmaninov 3 his 3rd piano concerto.
    In jazz a lot of songs are played arranged for various instruments but they should be introduced as such

  2. Yes. I totally agree. It’s not just convention, it makes no sense to refer to an instrumental work as a song, and especially when the work was conceived as a ballet or concerto by the composer and the world knows them as such. This weird nomenclature stems from the Spotify format designed for popular music where everything is a song, When you call up a symphony each movement is a song. Each dramatic section of a Wagner Opera is a song. Primephonic is a digital format designed specifically for classical music. Apple just purchased them and is integrating it into Apple Music. Smart move on their part puts them head and shoulders above Spotify.


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