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Updated by Tanner Henley on Mar 30, 2018
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Top 10 Hardest Classical Piano Compositions

Here is a list of my opinion of compositions that are the hardest in classical music, giving a description and why I chose the rank.

4

Le Festin d’Esope by Charles Alkan

Le Festin d’Esope by Charles Alkan

Le Festin d'Esope is an etude with many different dramatic moods with very difficult octaves, a very fast tempo, and lots of key signature changes.

7

Paganini Etude No. 4 by Franz Liszt

Paganini Etude No. 4 by Franz Liszt

Paganini Etude No. 4 is extremely hard when it comes to octaves, thirds, arpeggios and many other scary characteristics of this piano composition.

6

Réminiscences de Don Juan by Franz Liszt

Réminiscences de Don Juan by Franz Liszt

Reminiscences de Don Juan is a challenge for many pianists (destroying Alexander Scriabin's fingers), and is difficult when it comes to dexterity and it is very difficult music to read.

5

Piano Concerto No. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninov

Piano Concerto No. 3 by Sergei Rachmaninov

Piano Concerto No. 3 is famous for its beautiful themes and melodies, but is extremely hard when it comes to its keyboard runs, large finger stretches, and octave chords.

10

Islamey Oriental Fantasy by Mily Balakirev

Islamey Oriental Fantasy by Mily Balakirev

Islamey is considered to be the hardest classical piano piece and is still a challenge for most pianists today! There is lots of hand crossing, fast thirds, and even ten finger stretches.

9

Gaspard de la Nuit by Maurice Ravel

Gaspard de la Nuit by Maurice Ravel

Gaspard de la Nuit is famous for the song "Scarbo" and is one of the hardest challenges for pianists because of hand crossing, playing in seconds, and being able to memorize this extraordinary and difficult piece.

8

Piano Sonata Op. 106 by Ludwig Beethoven

Piano Sonata Op. 106 by Ludwig Beethoven

Piano Sonata Op. 106 is widely considered to be the hardest sonata by Ludwig Beethoven and has "subversive beauty" (qoute: Emil Gilels), very hard technique, and many famous concert pianists can't play it.

3

Etude Op. 25 No. 6 by Frederic Chopin

Etude Op. 25 No. 6 by Frederic Chopin

Etude Op. 25 No. 6 is difficult for many pianists because of its almost impossible thirds ("Etude in Thirds"), consisting of a high tempo, and difficult finger patterns to figure.

2

Etude Op. 10 No. 2 by Frederic Chopin

Etude Op. 10 No. 2 by Frederic Chopin

Etude Op. 10 No. 2 is an extremely difficult piece when it comes to notes per measure and is a tiring, scary, but beautiful song by Frederic Chopin.

1

Transcendental Etude No. 7 by Franz Liszt

Transcendental Etude No. 7 by Franz Liszt

Transcendental Etude No. 7 is something many pianists can't achieve because of its long octave duration, keyboard runs, and long distances between each chord or octave.