The works of Baroque, Classical, and Romantic composers are essential to a well-rounded study of piano. When we look to the past for great music, though, we shouldn’t forget the more recent past. The Modern Era, starting around the turn of the 20th Century, includes many innovative composers whose distinctive works opened up new musical possibilities.
Though they don’t boast centuries of history like music from earlier eras, music from the Modern Era has most definitely played a part in shaping music history. Adding piano sheet music from this era to students’ repertoires also brings variety in style and sound, and its relatively recent origins can pique students’ interest. Being able to place the compositions into historical contexts they are more familiar with helps the music come alive to them in a unique way.
The ten Modern piano sheet music pieces below represents a wide range of works of the Modern Era arranged for Easy/ Intermediate piano. From ragtime to orchestral to Broadway musicals and film scores, the composers and pieces below have helped shape Modern music, and some are recognized among the greatest compositions of the Era.
Simple Gifts by Aaron Copland for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
The Entertainer by Scott Joplin for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo – Play and Learn™
The Entertainer by Scott Joplin for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo – Play and Learn™
Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
Dance by Dmitri Kabelevsky for Easy/Level 2 Piano Solo
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major by Dmitri Shostakovich for Intermediate Piano Solo
Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin for Easy Piano Solo
Somewhere from Westside Story by Leonard Bernstein for Easy/ Intermediate Piano Solo
Memory from Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber for Easy/ Intermediate Piano Solo
Theme from Jurassic Park by John Williams for Intermediate Piano Solo
Star Wars (Main Title) by John Williams for Intermediate Piano Solo
Learn more about the lives and contributions of the composers above and composers from other eras by visiting the Meet the Composer index on MakingMusicFun.
Some sources may say that the Modern Era ended decades ago, but others contend it continues into the present time. Either way, these pieces demonstrate that music doesn’t necessarily need to be old to be excellent. Even some of the musical and film score pieces on the list are recognized as the best of their genre, and they represent new facets of musical expression that were introduced during this era.
Incorporating piano music from the Modern Era into your students’ lessons can stoke their enthusiasm. It can also demonstrate how music changed through the decades as well as the qualities that have always made great music great, regardless of time or place.
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