Have you ever watched or listened to a fast piano piece, intruiged and amazed? Playing fast piano music can be quite intimidating, but I promise it is possible!
In this post I want to show you 11 amazing fast piano pieces from all sorts of musical time periods!
At the end, I will also give you some tips for learning to play fast on the piano, so be sure to stick around for that.
1. Beethoven Moonlight Sonata ‘Presto Agitato’
We just have to start with Beethoven. The Moonlight Sonata is one of the most famous Sonatas Beethoven wrote, making it a fitting piece to begin with! The third movement, “Presto Agitato” is the fast movement. It is extremely intense with an overall minor theme, and includes many arepeggiated chords (which are obviously played very fast!)
2. Beethoven “Waldstein” Sonata
Another fast piece written by Beethoven is called the Waldstein Sonata. In this Sonata, it is the first movement that is the fast one. I myself have actually played this piece! It is definitely more on the happy side when compared to the Moonlight Sonata (although it includes sad minor sections as well!) One thing I love about this piece is that it has some slower sections played in contrast with the fast ones.
3. Scarlatti Sonate K. 141
Scarlatti may be a lesser known composer, but he has some fast pieces as well! This Sonate in D minor is one that stands out. See if you can listen for all the fast trills and repeated notes!
4. Lizst Paganini Etude No. 3
Up next, we have to take a listen to some pieces written by Lizst. The Paganini Etude Number 3, called La Campanella, is both fast and very difficult. In fact, it is considered one of the most difficult piano pieces to play! Many advanced techniques, paired with the fast tempo, are the reason for that.
5. Lizst Paganini Etude No. 6
Here is another piece in Lizst’s Grandes études series! This is the last one in the series, number 6, and it is also very technically difficult and fast. While most of the piece is quite loud and intense, I think personally my favorite part is the long, soft trill section with a mournful melody. (Skip to around 3:12 in the video below to hear this section!)
6. Jeux d’eau by Maurice Ravel
Get ready to be wowed! Next up we have an extraordinary piece called Jeux d’eau composed by Maurice Ravel in 1901. While some of Ravel’s pieces are slower and beautiful, Jeux d’eau is more difficult and very fast paced. It is definitely an impressionist piece, which is what I love! As you listen to this piece, you may have feelings of sadness, dreamy relaxation, confusion, and more as Ravel captures all of these so well.
7. Flight of the Bumblebee
In contrast to the dreamlike nature of Ravel, let’s take a listen this bold, very real-feeling piece called “The Flight of the Bumblebee.” Isn’t amazing how music can capture so many different experiences? This song sounds just like a bumblebee…and one that is flying extremely fast too! 😉
8. Chopin Etude in C sharp minor, Op. 10 No. 4
Now we need to get into fast piano pieces written by Chopin (one of my all time favorite composers!) Written in C Sharp Minor, this Etude is a fairly short because of how fast it is played! I would say it is pretty passionate and intense as well. You won’t find any happy, major sections here!
9. Chopin Etude in A Flat Major Opus 25 No 1
Many of the Chopin Etudes are fast paced—so I just had to include a second one that is a bit more on the happy side. Opus 25 Number 1 is written in A flat major and includes many fast arepeggios. However, it also has one prominent, overarching melody that should be louder than all those arpeggios! Make sure to listen to the end because the ending is so pretty!
10. Chopin Fantasy Impromptu in C# minor Opus 66
The last Chopin piece I want to show you is the Fantasy Impromptu in C# minor. I love how this piece includes both major and minor sections. The minor section is typically the part that is played very fast. The major section is toward the middle of the piece, and more time to breathe is usually taken during it.
11. Bach Prelude in C minor
Last in our list (but definitely not least) a fast piano piece by Bach! This is another fast piece that is more dark and intense than it is beautiful. In the recording below, you will be able to hear both the prelude and the fugue. It is the prelude that is the fast piece—the fugue, on the other hand, slows down a bit and sounds like a more typical Bach piece.
Tips for Playing Fast Piano Pieces
So maybe you watched all of those videos in amazement…wondering how in the world do people play that fast?
To be totally honest, I prefer slow pieces to fast ones. However, a lot of times even slow pieces will include fast sections.
If you’re working on one of the pieces I mentioned above (or any fast piece) and you’re trying to get it up to speed, the biggest tip I have is the opposite of what you might expect…
I know it’s not what you want to hear, but the best way to get good at playing a piece fast is by first going slow.
You have to take time to get to know the piece, understand the notes, chords, and rhythms, etc.
As you start to get better at the piece, begin to build up your speed a little at at time. Break your piece down into sections, and use a metronome to maximize your success.
In addition, you will want to think about the way in which you are playing. Many of the pieces you’ve just listened to require a lightness of touch. It will be difficult to go faster if you are playing heavily or using the wrong technique.
This is a subject that can be expanded upon greatly, so if you want to learn more, check out my post on how to play the piano faster.
There are many fast piano pieces that exist, written by so many different composers in different musical periods! Listening to fast piano music is amazing, and playing can be even more fun. I hope you enjoyed this post and possibly found a new piece to start working on (or at least some to add to your future bucket list!)