Chopin: Piano Sheet Music Essentials
When it comes to piano greats, few stand higher than that of Frédéric Chopin, also known as “The poet of the piano” and perhaps even the greatest pianist of all time, Chopin has become a true aspiration for thousands of pianists over the years.
Following our focuses on the essential sheet music from the likes of Beethoven and Mozart, thanks to the help from our friends at Presto Music, we bring you the best of Chopin sheet music, whether you’re so whether you are a total beginner, seasoned player or even are looking for something a little different, we’ve got you covered for all of your essential Chopin pieces!
New to the world of classical? No problem, read our beginners guide here!
Before we dive in, it’s important to take a moment to understand just why Chopin is such an influential figure within the world of piano. Excelling particularly during the Romantic period of classical music, Chopin was a Polish composer who was known for truly excelling in solo piano composition. A true child prodigy, by age six he was already trying to reproduce what he heard others play and by age 11 he was playing for some of the most prestigious names in Polish government and culture.
Despite all of this prestige, Chopin was not in good health for the majority of his life, particularly when he left Poland and played across europe because of the political upheaval and politics with Russia, eventually ending up in Paris, France.
In May 1839 Chopin settled in the south of Paris in Nohant. The next seven years proved to be the happiest and most productive period of his life where he steadily composed a series of masterpieces, including the Sonata in B Minor, the Opus 55 Nocturnes and the Opus 56 Mazurkas. The growing demand for his new works and his greater understanding of the publishing business also brought increased income and provided Chopin an elegant lifestyle.
However this glory was short lived as by the mid 1840s, many noted that his behavior had also become erratic, possibly due to an undiagnosed form of epilepsy. He made one final extended tour to the British Isles, where he struggled under an exhausting schedule, making his last public appearance on November 16, 1848. He then returned to Paris, where he died on October 17, 1849, at age just 39. Securing him as a true master of the piano and his works are still heavily played to this day.
Easy -Intermediate Pieces
Whilst Chopin’s life was full of discomfort and sorrow, his music only brought joy and passion for expression and exemplary composition, allowing people to realise what was truly possible on the piano.
To begin our list, here we have a number of volumes and books for the beginner to begin to appreciate the basics of Chopin. All of these pieces should be roughly suited to those either just beginning their piano journey through to around grade 3.
A fantastic introduction to a range of works from across the composer’s life, the pieces in this collection provide an excellent and accessible introduction to Chopin’s style. Chosen for their comparative lack of technical difficulty, these pieces range across Chopin’s output, with five Preludes, five Mazurkas, three Waltzes, one Nocturne and five miscellaneous works included.
Chopin’s waltzes are a staple amongst his compositions and have been a source of delight for both listeners and performers through the ages, but most are generally considered quite difficult to play.
This special Easy Piano edition helps break down those barriers and all the intricate melodies, harmonies and rhythms are still here to offer a sense of the real thing, but all have been newly arranged so that virtually all pianists can experience the thrill of playing 15 Chopin waltzes at the piano.
Much like the introductory album, this novel offers a selection of Chopin’s stylings, offering players a unique way to discover the styles and serenity of all of Chopin’s compositions.
Featuring Twenty-Three favourite Pieces in Piano arrangements, each composition has been made pun-to-play and include some of Chopin’s most famous works, such as the ‘Raindrop’ Prelude, ‘Minute’ Waltz, the charming ‘Lullaby’, and melodic highlights from the most familiar Preludes, Mazurkas, Waltzes, Impromptus and Études.
We’re big fans of the ‘My First’ series due to their accessibility for new players and Chopin’s edition is no different.
Passion, elegance and melancholy – This volume allows beginners to begin experiencing the sophistication of Chopin’s play. A lot of Chopin’s music is quite technically demanding, but thanks to the suitable fingerings of the composer, most figures are comfortable in the hands and can be easily played by pianists of all abilities. This collection contains Chopin’s easiest piano pieces in one volume, perfect for piano lessons or enjoying at home.
Intermediate – Early Advanced Pieces
As we move into the more intermediate pieces of Chopin, we are able to begin exploring new approaches to his work, these pieces generally allow for more expression, more nuance and subtlety within the play as well as bringing forth some of Chopin’s iconic fingering techniques.
These pieces are likely bet suited to those around the Grade 3-6 mark, however offer an immense level of challenge and reward with them!
Essentially a full bible of Chopin, this 228 page volume features over 52 newly-engraved intermediate to advanced piano pieces by Chopin printed on eye-pleasing cream-coloured paper.
Including 12 Preludes, 16 Mazurkas, 9 Nocturnes, 5 Polonaises, 9 Waltzes, and the Fantaisie-Imprompte, this book truly is a must have for any Chopin lover looking to expand their repertoire!
More than the score… is a sensational series by Edition Peters where each volume focuses on one just one piece, in this case, Chopin’s Prélude in E minor Op. 28 No. 4. However, what makes these volumes particularly unique is the written masterclasses and background information encouraging an exploration of the music beyond the printed score.
Written by a panel of internationally-renowned pianists including Joanna MacGregor, Roy Howat, Daniel Grimwood, Clare Hammond and Adam Tendler. This book helps showcase Chopin in a new light, offering a unique approach to his works and context behind his method.
Another bible of Chopin, this sensational and elegant looking volume brings with it all of the essentials of Chopin’s works. Also featuring a download card giving you instant online access to full performances of each piece, this volume will help allow you to expand your play and replicate the pieces as intended.
Advanced / Professional Level Pieces
As we move into the advanced or professional level of Chopin’s repertoire, it’s worth taking a moment to note that you are about to explore Chopin in the finest sense of the word. Replicating the works of one of, if not the most talented pianist to ever walk the earth is no small feat and if you are able to complete even just a handful of these pieces, you truly deserve the title of piano master.
Each of these pieces aim to capture Chopin’s works as intended in an exciting, captivating and exhilarating manner.
Capturing their beauty in all their glory, this volume includes all of Chopin’s 26 preludes, 21 nocturnes and 19 waltzes written as intended.
Being a 248 page volume, this book also features a delightful biography of the composer, notes on the individual genres, and pieces that surfaced after the iconic Joseffy’s time-honoured editions were initially published.
Perhaps the best way to explore the works of Chopin is by focusing on the main disciplines that he worked in, namely his Nocturnes, Preludes, Waltzes, Ballades, Études, Mazurkas and Polonaises. Each of the titles below explores these disciplines in their finest, purest forms.
The Nocturnes get their namesake from the idea of nighttime. Chopin’s 21 nocturnes are generally considered among the finest short solo works for the instrument and hold an important place in contemporary concert repertoire.
One of the greatest innovations made by Chopin to the nocturne was his use of a more freely flowing rhythm, giving his pieces that of a further sense of drama and feeling.
Chopin’s cycle of 24 Preludes, Op. 28, covers all major and minor keys and were written between 1835 and 1839. Whereas the term “prelude” had hitherto been used to describe an introductory piece, Chopin’s pieces stand as self-contained units, each conveying a specific idea or emotion. As such, each prelude offers its own unique challenge and emotion to capture within the work.
Chopin’s take on the Waltz is truly a work of art, whilst they adhere to the traditional 3/4 waltz time, they are remarkably different from the earlier Viennese waltzes in that they were not designed for dancing but for concert performance.
A huge fan of the dynamics, ever changing emotion and freedom of expression within the waltz, Chopin started writing waltzes when he was just fourteen, and continued until the year of his death, 1849, writing 36 in total, of which 20 are numbered.
Chopin’s four ballades are single-movement pieces for solo piano, composed between 1831 and 1842. They are considered to be some of the most important and challenging pieces in the standard piano repertoire.
Earning their title from the sense of creating an almost dance-piece within the music, equivalent to the old Italian ballata or connotations of the medieval heroic ballad, each ballade is dynamic, and differ entirely from each other.
Using sensational nobility within their motifs and utilising some of the most delicate and intricate structures within music, the ballades are a true challenge to conquer.
Chopin’s Études formed the foundation for what was then a revolutionary playing style for the piano. Because of this, the music remains popular and often performed in both concert and private stages.
The Études not only presented an entirely new set of technical challenges, but were the first to become a regular part of the concert repertoire. They beautifully combine musical substance and technical challenge to form a complete artistic form and are often held in high regard as the product of mastery of combining the two.
A traditional Polish dance, throughout his life, Chopin wrote at least 59 mazurkas for piano, both the traditional mazurka and Chopin’s version contain a great deal of repetition as though intended for dance, however were written to be purely concert pieces. Upbeat and full of personality, the Mazurkas make for a sensational piece of learning utility.
The final famous discipline of Chopin is his, characterised by immense feelings and expression across a variety of tones, feels and emotions, he wrote his first polonaise in 1817, when he was 7 and his last was the Polonaise-Fantaisie of 1846, three years before his death. Unsurprisingly, this has since become one of his most iconic compositions, along with the “Military” Polonaise in A, Op. 40, No. 1, and the “Heroic” Polonaise in A♭, Op. 53.
We hope you have enjoyed this list and have found something that interests you! The world of Chopin truly is a colourful one to explore, so we wish you all the best in your ventures! If you would like to learn more about other classical pianists, check out our guide to the greatest classical pianists of all time!
Or for expert advice on getting more from your instrument and making sure you have the right piano to enable expression to Chopin’s level, if you are looking to upgrade your piano, contact our experts today!