Edition Peters’ Graded Anthologies 2023-24

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

In recent years, Edition Peters have been publishing anthologies of selected ABRSM Grade 8 pieces, a stroke of publishing genius predicated on the following ABRSM Syllabus statement:

“Candidates may use any edition of the music, except where a particular arrangement or transcription is specified. Editions quoted in the syllabus are given for guidance only and are not obligatory”.

With one of the most extensive music back-catalogues, Edition Peters have found themselves brilliantly placed to jump in with varied anthologies of the best syllabus choices, offering larger compendiums than ABRSM’s own publications (which offer just nine pieces).

With the advent of ABRSM’s 2023-24 Piano Syllabus (reviewed here), Edition Peters are back with a new set of publications which expand on their previous effort in two important ways:

  • this time, there are collections for Grades 5, 6, 7 and 8
  • in each volume, Edition Peters include a few own choice pieces in addition to the highlights of the published syllabus

Edition Peters would thus seem to have a more ambitious vision for this series, making it an ever more intriguing proposition. Some will see these books are alternatives to ABRSM’s official syllabus publications, while others will welcome them as hugely useful supplements that present a wider range of alternative piece selections.

In this review, I will offer a side-by-side comparison, listing the included repertoire so that readers can make an informed choice about which to buy, or indeed whether to purchase both…

Anthologies for all…

In the following tables I have listed the syllabus choices included in each publication, giving each piece’s ABRSM Syllabus List, Number and Composer. For full details of piece titles please consult the full ABRSM syllabus here.

In the case of the Edition Peters Graded Piano Anthologies, I have given full composer and piece names for the “own choice” alternatives offered.

GRADE FIVE: (click to enlarge)




An examination of these lists reveals that while in all cases the Edition Peters Graded Piano Anthologies deliver excellent standalone value as comprehensive syllabus collections, some also make fabulous supplementary books that predominantly showcase the alternative selections not offered in ABRSM’s own publications.

And if ABRSM can be commended for the enterprising and inclusive selections in their latest syllabus, so equally Edition Peters can be praised for the “own choice” alternatives. The publisher tells me that curating these,

“…involved a panel of selectors (both internal and external) and consultation with a number of piano teachers for grade verification. We noted the AB guidance indicated a degree of flexibility (the own-choice piece should be broadly the same standard, or above, as repertoire set for the grade being taken).”

If all four volumes surprise us with the unexpected, they do so with considerable aplomb, introducing us to some real gems.

I particularly enjoyed Thomas Peter-Horas’s gorgeous Sara, Roxanna Panufnik’s intriguing Glo, and jazz luminary Fred Hersch’s inviting Valentine. But across the board, these pieces further enrich what is already a particularly appealing and impressively diverse syllabus.

Other Considerations

ABRSM offer editions of their books with added audio downloads (which include all the alternatives in the syllabus). The price of these audio editions is not shown above, but is understandably higher. Edition Peters do not offer recordings.

ABRSM’s books also include syllabus advice, including listings of scales requirements. They have an “official” air to them, are beautifully presented, and arrive with covers that are notably more contemporary, engaging and colourful than the Edition Peters ones (smart though they are):

On the other hand, the Edition Peters Graded Piano Anthologies include an essay giving advice on building and performing a programme, with detailed notes on all the pieces included within each anthology. These are written by Norman Beedie, who lectures at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, one of ABRSM’s affiliated schools of music.

For comparison, ABRSM do not include teacher/performance notes in their books, but rather charge for them as a separate booklet. They do however include a short note on the background of each piece, including sources and ample editorial information. These notes appear as footnotes below each score.

For many, the raw data supplied above will be sufficient to make a choice. However, we should not overlook the importance of the music editing and engraving. Here, much to their credit, ABRSM take the crown, and it is clear that the two-year lead time they have in preparing their syllabus resources is well spent indeed, polishing editions which are editorially spot on and consistently presented.

Edition Peters have a long and storied history as a publisher, and their editions here are also top notch. Having been collated from sources old and new, however, the engravings don’t all match each other in consistency.

In the Edition Peters Grade 5 Piano Anthology, almost all the pieces have helpful fingering suggestions, but from Grade 6 onwards fewer do, seemingly the luck of the draw. Nor do these editions benefit from editorial explanations of ornaments in the way that the ABRSM books do.

Concluding Thoughts

Notwithstanding the pros and cons I have highlighted in this review, Edition Peters’ Graded Piano Anthologies are in my view undoubtedly a triumph. These are ultimately great music books, offering greater choice and a more varied, musically nourishing menu of repertoire than the official ABRSM books.

And with such excellent resources to hand, there’s never been a better time to explore the ABRSM piano syllabus, nor an easier or more cost-effective means of doing so.

It could of course also be mentioned that those taking grades with other exam boards would find much of interest here, and ample scope for selecting “own choice” pieces where encouraged to do so. And for those following a repertoire-rich approach that generally eschews the traumas of the exam room, these anthologies deliver a rewarding source of inspiring level-appropriate music.

Having presumably found success with their Grade 8 Piano Anthology over the last few years, it’s cool to see Edition Peters so artfully expanding on the concept. We must wonder whether other publishers might dip their toes in the same pool, or indeed whether Edition Peters might extend their scope to look at other exam boards.

That said, the comparison of their publications with ABRSM’s own is surely an instructive one, illustrating the challenges of such an enterprise, and the success with which Edition Peters have largely met them.

Whatever one thinks of graded exams, there’s no denying that the ABRSM piano syllabus offers a stunning and helpfully progressive view of the rich and varied piano repertoire. And if their own publications open too small a window through which those wondrous joys might be discovered, the widescreen presentation Edition Peters offer with these anthologies must surely be welcomed with the broadest of smiles.

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Andrew Eales

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