Chopin easiest piano music

Discovering Chopin

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

In 2020, I was commissioned by PWM Edition to record five films showcasing educational piano music by Polish composers. Captivated by my new musical discoveries, I have continued to independently explore and review the music of Chopin’s land…

Frederic Chopin is of course one of the most beloved of all piano composers, and many players are eager to play his music as soon as they possibly can; in the case of adult learners, often when they have only been learning for a few months.

PWM Edition offer several collections and anthologies that provide the perfect introduction to the music of Poland’s most celebrated composer, as well as two revered complete editions.

In this post I will give a quick overview of this range, together with tutorial videos from PWM’s Music from Chopin’s Land series…

Four Easy Preludes

Among the pieces that can be attempted by the early advanced player, some of the easier Preludes from the famous collection Opus 28 quickly come to mind, and four of them have been collected in a small book Four Easy Preludes, which appears in the famous Paderewski edition.

Included in the short collection are the ever-popular reflective Preludes in E and B minors, as well as the hope-filled Prelude in A major, and dramatic C minor Prelude. 

In my PWM tutorial video below, I take a quick look at these latter two and pinpoint a few particular areas where teachers might want to bring some focus with their students learning these pieces…

Four Easy Preludes is one of a series of introductory books which also includes:

  • Three Easy Nocturnes
    (Bb minor Op.9/1; Eb major Op.9/2, F minor Op.55/1)
  • Three Easy Waltzes
    (Db major Op.64/1; C# minor Op.64/2; E minor, posthumous)

These little collections offer a lovely way of first encountering Chopin’s music as a developing player, using the revered edition still held by many to be the most helpful performing edition.

The Easiest Chopin

The Easiest Chopin is a more extended collection bringing together 18 of the composer’s easier works in one superb 56-page album:

  1. Polonaise in G minor Op.posth
  2. Polonaise in B flat major Op.posth
  3. Polonaise in A flat major Op.posth
  4. Prelude in E minor Op.28 no.4
  5. Prelude in A major Op.28 no.7
  6. Mazurka in C major Op.24 no.2
  7. Mazurka in A minor Op.59 no.1
  8. Mazurka in F major Op.68 no.3
  9. Nocturne in E flat Op.9 no.2
  10. Nocturne in F minor Op.55 no.1
  11. Nocturne in C minor Op.posth
  12. Waltz in A minor Op.34 no.2
  13. Waltz in C sharp minor Op.64 no.2
  14. Waltz in B minor Op.69 no.2
  15. Cantabile in B flat major Op.posth
  16. Feuille d’album in E major Op.posth
  17. Largo in E flat major Op.posth
  18. Fugue in A minor Op.posth

This judicious selection, including evergreen pieces in several of Chopin’s most popular miniature forms, is beautifully presented within a flexible matt card cover that glows with its gold embossed writing.

The high quality paper is in soft ivory white, and again the edition itself is that of Paderewski, Bronarski and Turczyński, carefully reproduced here and complete with fingering throughout.

The Most Beautiful Chopin

In a similar vein but for the more advanced player, The Most Beautiful Chopin is a superb 80-page collection that includes many of Chopin’s most popular gems:

  1. Etude in A minor Op.10 no.2
  2. Etude in A flat major Op.25 no.1
  3. Prelude in E minor Op.28 no.4
  4. Prelude in B minor Op.28 no.6
  5. Prelude in A major Op.28 no.7
  6. Prelude in D flat major Op.28 no.15
  7. Prelude in A flat major Op.28 no.17
  8. Prelude in C minor Op.28 no.20
  9. Polonaise in C sharp minor Op.26 no.1
  10. Polonaise in C minor Op.40 no.2
  11. Mazurka in C sharp minor Op.6 no.2
  12. Mazurka in B flat major Op.7 no.1
  13. Mazurka in G minor Op.24 no.1
  14. Mazurka in A minor Op.67 no.4
  15. Mazurka in A minor Op.68 no.2
  16. Mazurka in F major Op.68 no.3
  17. Mazurka in F minor Op.68 no.4
  18. Waltz in D flat major Op.64 no.1
  19. Waltz in C sharp minor Op.64 no.2
  20. Waltz in B minor Op.69 no.2
  21. Waltz in E minor Op.posth
  22. Waltz in E flat major Op.posth
  23. Nocturne in E flat major Op.9 no.2
  24. Nocturne in E minor Op.72 no.1

Here, again, the book is a beautifully presented volume, the scores within reproductions from the seminal Paderewski, Bronarski and Turczyński editions.

The Complete Chopin

So what of this Paderewski, Bronarski and Turczyński edition?

Most enthusiastic and serious classical players will eventually want complete editions of at least some of Chopin’s miniatures, and there are of course many alternatives on the market. But of them all, the Paderewski Edition is famed for its clarity, selection of sources, decisions about musical phrasing, and well-judged fingering recommendations.

The edition is available in 27 volumes from PWM, of which the first 14 contain the core piano works as follows:

  1. Preludes
  2. Etudes
  3. Ballades
  4. Impromptus
  5. Scherzos
  6. Sonatas
  7. Nocturnes
  8. Polonaises
  9. Waltzes
  10. Mazurkas
  11. Fantasia, Berceuse, Barcarolle
  12. Rondos
  13. Concert Allegro, Variations
  14. Concertos

One might think that with such an acclaimed edition, PWM might rest on their laurels. But in the decades since Paderewski’s edition became the benchmark by which all Chopin editions were judged, the new aesthetic of urtext editions has become the norm, with editions from Henle and others bringing fresh insight and scholarship, textual clarity and the latest typography.

The Definitive Chopin Edition?

Responding to the need for a new definitive edition, the Chopin National Edition was produced as a brand new urtext, edited by Jan Ekier and published for the 2010 bicentenary of Chopin’s birth

Holding a copy of an Chopin National Edition from PWM one is immediately aware of being in possession of an object of rare class.

The gorgeous notation, printed on luxury cream paper, is among the cleanest and best engraved I’ve ever seen. But it is equally obvious that beyond the impressive aesthetics this is also the product of immense scholarly integrity.

One point to bear in mind though. The edition is spilt into Series A, which includes all the works published in Chopin’s lifetime, and Series B continuing the posthumous works. This means, for example, that there is a volume for published Nocturnes in Series A, and another for the posthumous Nocturnes (which includes some of the most well-known) in Series B.

You can find out more from the edition’s special website, where we read:

If you can spare 16 minutes to watch this fascinating video about the edition, mostly an interview with Jan Ekier himself, I am sure you will find it rewarding:

Whatever the strengths of other editions on the market, I cannot imagine any serious performer wanting to be without the truly stunning Chopin National Edition of Chopin’s music as their primary (or at least reference) musical text.

Using the Chopin National Edition and Paderewski Edition side by side, however, one really has the very best of both worlds!

Tutorial Videos

In my tutorial video for PWM, I outline some of the features of the Preludes Op.28 in C minor and A major, drawing attention to those which are most likely to be novel or challenging for the late intermediate to early advanced player, and offering teaching tips.

The following tutorials were produced by PWM as part of the same filming project, featuring an international array of top teachers. English subtitles are available (press CC to activate them).

Polonaise in G minor presented by Ernestine Bluteau (France):

Preludes in E minor and B minor presented by Maddalena Giacopuzzi (Italy):

Waltzes in C sharp minor and D flat major presented by Marie Kiyone (Japan):

Nocturnes in B flat minor and E flat major presented by Hubert Rutkowski (Germany):

Closing Thoughts

For pianists at any level who are keen to explore and discover the music of Chopin (and who isn’t?), Poland’s PWM Edition offer the definitive range of sheet music publications, from intermediate to early advanced anthologies through to the world’s finest complete editions.

You can explore the range on the musicroom website (link below) and in music shops worldwide.

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based in Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.