What’s the difference between a symphony and a sonata? A minuet and a march? A concerto and a toccata? Some piano students might lump all of these classical music forms together under the category of “old music.” Learning the difference between these different types of pieces not only increases students’ classical musical literacy, but it can also help them appreciate the pieces’ purposes and context.
The ten pieces of free sheet music below represent several essential types of music that defined their eras. Each piece is carefully arranged for easy or intermediate piano students, fully considering both the integrity of the original composition and the skill level of the student. You can build a library of great classical sheet music for piano free, as all of the pieces below can be downloaded without paying a cent.
Toccata in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
Pathetique Sonata by Ludvig van Beethoven for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
Minuet in G by Ludwig Van Beethoven for Intermediate/Level 4 Piano Solo
“Surprise” Symphony by Franz Joseph Haydn for Easy/Level 2 Piano Solo
Clarinet Concerto (Theme) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for Intermediate/ Level 3 Piano Solo
Funeral March by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for Intermediate/Level 4 Piano Solo
Waltz in Ab by Johannes Brahms for Intermediate/ Level 3 Piano Solo
Nocturne in E Flat Op.9, No.2 by Frederic Chopin for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
Largo from the New World Symphony by Antonin Dvorak for Intermediate/Level 3 Piano Solo
Theme from 1812 Overture by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky for Intermediate/Level 5 Piano Solo
As your students study each of these great classical pieces, take a moment to address each one’s original form or purpose. When a piano student knows what types of dances minuets and waltzes are, they can picture couples spinning across the dance floor in appropriate period dress. When they understand that a toccata was meant to be impressive, fast, free, and virtuosic– essentially a showoff piece– they can really perform with flourish. When they know that nocturnes are music of the night, they can capture the peaceful but slightly melancholy moments as the day slips away into darkness. A little bit of background knowledge can change how students approach and appreciate these older pieces.
Looking for more sonatas, minuets, and symphonies? Explore the Meet the Composer Index at MakingMusicFun.net and find more great classical sheet music for Levels 1-5. Composers are organized by era, and each composer’s name links to a biography, affordable and free piano sheet music, and other related resources.
Great Composer Masterworks for Kids | Free Piano Sheet Music (Level 3)
Essential Bach | Piano Sheet Music
Essential Mozart | Piano Sheet Music
Essential Beethoven | Piano Sheet Music
Top 10 Easy/ Intermediate Piano Solos | Piano Sheet Music
Top 10 Piano Pieces for Beginners | Piano Sheet Music