The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: What is the most difficult piano piece to play?

August 27, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

What is the most difficult piano piece to play?

Like so many others, The Ear had always heard it was “Islamey” or “Oriental Fantasy” by Balakirev.

And that always struck me as odd since so much of Liszt is so deliberately virtuosic.

Then I heard the works of Sorabji and figured that is really hard, no matter how easy Marc-Andre Hamelin makes it seem.

But now piano virtuoso Stephen Hough (below) has opened my eyes – and ears — to what he thinks is the most difficult piano work ever written. Furthermore, his view was apparently supported by no less a judge than Rachmaninoff.

So what is it?

Take a look and listen:

Do you agree? What do you think is the most difficult piano piece ever written – or that you ever played or heard?

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