saddest classical piano pieces

Saddest/darkest/most depressing classical piano pieces that come to mind?

There are many classical piano pieces that are deeply touching. Here is a list of some of the saddest classical piano pieces:

1. Mendelssohn – Scherzo No.3 in B minor Opus 39, “Spring”
2. Chopin – Etude Opus 10, no. 6 in E-flat major
3. Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata opus 27 no 1
4. Schumann – Fantasie Opus 17 in A minor opus 31 nos 1 and 2 (not to be confused with the Romantic fantasy music)
5. Brahms – Intermezzo opus 118 n° 3 in G major (Prelude) The piece is known as the Ode to Joy because it was written on the occasion of Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig during his invasion of Germany in 1813 when he made his famous proclamation “all Germans are brothers”. It became known as ‘the German national anthem’ when it was adopted by Richard Wagner after he had composed it for his opera Lohengrin (1850).
6. Schubert – Impromptu D 935; Franz Schubert; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Ludwig van Beethoven; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Robert Schumann; Johannes Brahms ; Richard Wagner ; Claude Debussy .(fragment) This is one of my favorite works because I love its simplicity and bittersweet sentimentality! I hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you for reading!!

A few off the top of my head:

Rachmaninoff:

  1. Etude Tableaux in Eb minor Op.39 No.5 – An oppressive, brooding piece displaying pain and misery, as most pieces in Eb minor

  2. Etude Tableaux in A minor “The seas and the seagulls” Op.39 No.2 – An otherwise innocent-sounding title, but the left hand is consistently marked by the dies irae theme, suggesting that among the serenity of the sea is marked by death and destruction – which sure enough came in the middle section of the piece as a storm, which afterward returned to the first state of calm – somewhat unconvincingly, suggesting however that the cycle would repeat itself again

  3. Etude Tableaux in C minor Op.33 No.3 – A piece with binary sections, the first one in minor suggests the state of depression, while the modulation to the beautiful parallel major section suggests coming out of depression

Chopin:

  1. Etude in Eb minor Op.10 No.6 – The saddest of his etudes, and arguably his whole repertoire besides Funeral March in Op.35

  2. Nocturne in C# minor Op.27 No.1 – Personally for me, that rise from the b3 to the 3 in the opening melody line never failed to give me goosebumps

Scriabin: (Scriabin’s ‘darkness’ is a totally different ball game from the man he was most inspired by in his earlier years)

  1. Vers La Flamme Op.72 – Hands down wins the most cataclysmic classical piano piece ever written award, the world is literally engulfed in flames

  2. Sonata No.6 Op.62 – Even Scriabin himself never played this piece in public, because he “feared its darkness”

  3. All of the Op.74 Preludes

  4. Sonata No.9 Op.68 “Black Mass” – as the title suggests, no further explanation is needed

  5. In general, most of Scriabin’s works post Op.54

Ravel:

  1. Gaspard de la Nuit – Ondine – Love the juxtaposition of the b6 with the major tonality – I always felt it belonged to one of the more “yin” colors of music

Prokofiev:

  1. Sonata No.7 Op.83 II. Andante caloroso – One of the best piano literature works out there displaying the horrors of war and death, it starts off as a song, which soon turned into a lament, and subsequently deteriorated into full-blown wailing and weeping, before returning to the first theme again near the very end (I love Valentina Lisitsa’s rendition of this)

  2. Sonata No.5 Op.38 II. Andantino – that constant movement in the left hand suggests something like a “time keeper”, counting down the finite seconds left of human life before he departs to the netherworld

Kabalevsky:

  1. Both II movements of the 2nd and 3rd Piano Sonatas (also war sonatas), with the 2nd one much deeper and more elaborate

 

Rachmaninoff’s Op. 39 No. 2 is so underrated. My eyes always start to water when I listen to them. But you forgot his Op. 32 No. 10. A perfect description of his homesickness.

I agree about Scriabin’s Vers la Flamme. The most terrifying piece I know.

The cadenza in the first movement of Prokofiev’s 2nd Piano Concerto is as darkly passionate as you can possibly get. I don’t know if any other composer could top the pure rage in that score.

I would add to Chopin:

  1. Etude Op. 25 No. 7 in C♯ minor – I think this is far sadder than Op. 10 No. 6. It’s like a big tragic tale of his life since he left Poland.

  2. Prelude Op. 28 No. 6 in B minor – the saddest of the Preludes imo. Which was played at his funeral. The sort of deceptive cadence at 1:19 is heartbreaking, and instead of ending the piece after that, he brings back the bass melody one last time at 1:50 which I find is brilliant. Both those parts make this Prelude one of the best in the set.

  3. Mazurka Op. 56 No. 3 in C minor – One of the very few Mazurkas that reaches a Ballade-like scale.

  4. Mazurka Op. 63 No. 2 in F minor – A great example of the depressing stillness you hear in his works. Anderszewski plays it twice as slow as most pianists.

  5. Mazurka Op. Posth 68 No. 4 in F minor – The musical manifestation of the dying breaths of a man who died too young.

 

What are some sad classical piano pieces?

Some of the saddest piano pieces (not in any particular order) (stars placed next to my favorites):

  • L.V. Beethoven: Sonata No. 07 in D Major, Op. 10 – II Largo e mesto
  • * L.V. Beethoven: Sonata No. 12 in A-Flat Major, Op. 26 – III Marcia Funebre (Sulla morte d’un Eroe)
  • * L.V. Beethoven: Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27 (Quasi Una Fantasia – Moonlight) – I Adagio sostenuto (Moonlight Sonata)
  • L.V. Beethoven: Sonata No. 19 in G Minor, Op. 49 – I Andante
  • L.V. Beethoven: Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 (Appassionata) – I Allegro assai
  • L.V. Beethoven: Sonata No. 25 in G Major, Op. 79 – II Andante
  • L.V. Beethoven: Sonata No. 29 in B-Flat Major, Op. 106 – III Adagio sostenuto (Hammerklavier)
  • * E. Satie: Trios Gnossienes – No. 1 (1891)
  • E. Satie: Gnossienes No. 4–7 – 4eme
  • E. Satie: Sarabandes (1887) – 1eme, 2eme, 3eme
  • C. Debussy: Andantino sansa leneur (Reverie)
  • * C. Debussy: Suite Bergamasque – Clair De Lune (light of the moon)
  • C. Debussy: Prelude book I – Lent Et Grave (Danseuses de Delphes)
  • F. Chopin: 4 Ballades – Ballade No. 01 in G Minor, Op. 23
  • F. Chopin: 12 Etudes, Op. 10 – Etude in E Flat Minor
  • F. Chopin: Op. 09 – Nocturne in B-Flat Minor
  • F. Chopin: Op. 27 – Nocturne in C Sharp Minor
  • F. Chopin: Op. 48 – Nocturne in C Minor
  • * F. Chopin: Op. 55 – Nocturne in F Minor
  • * F. Chopin: Op. 72 – Nocturne in E Minor
  • * F. Chopin: Nocturne in C Sharp Minor (1830)
  • F. Chopin: Nocturne in C Minor (1837)
  • * F. Chopin: 24 Preludes, Op. 28 – Prelude in E Minor
  • * F. Chopin: 24 Preludes, Op. 28 – Prelude in B Minor
  • F. Chopin: Marche Funebre in C Minor, Op. 72, No. 02
  • * F. Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 02 in B Flat Minor, Op. 35 – I Grave, Doppio Movimento
  • * F. Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 02 in B Flat Minor, Op. 35 – III Marche Funebre
  • * F. Chopin: Waltz in C Sharp Minor
  • * F. Liszt: La Campanella

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