What Is the Most Difficult Piece of Music or Part in the World, and Whose Music Is It?

What Is the Most Difficult Piece of Music or Part in the World, and Whose Music Is It?

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The title may be a bit of a childish question, but let's see how it can be answered. In this article, we will figure out which musical compositions or musical parts can be called the most difficult.

Only three examples are given here in the article (music by Niccolo Paganini, Joe Satriani, and Franz Liszt), but undoubtedly this list can be continued.

Frederick Beiderbecke

The first to come to mind, perhaps, is the great Italian violinist and virtuoso Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840), with his caprices and other compositions.

No one knows what he sounded like, because he lived before the advent of sound recording, and modern stories and legends make us think of him as if he overcame all known limits of human abilities and capabilities. He was also a composer, and his caprices, if played at the intended tempo, are an unsurpassed musical hurricane... I dare say there aren't many violinists who could play them.

To demonstrate the violin and show how difficult it can be, I play my students Paganini caprices recorded by the late virtuoso master and Paganini specialist Ruggiero Ricci (1918 - 2012).

Another great Italian expert on Paganini is Salvatore Accardo (b. 1941). Attending his performance was one of the highlights of my life, and the audience jumped to their feet for a loud standing ovation. Every note played by Accardo sounded as clear as a bell. Perhaps Paganini would be proud of these two gentlemen, but somewhere deep down I am sure that the legend is true, and there will never be another violinist like Paganini.

Hachi Ko

Joe Satriani has said a couple of things several times about the guitar solo from "Crushing Day": "I should never have written this solo" and "Never compose a guitar solo while sitting down.".

It's long, it's complicated, and it's fast. For many years, Satriani has not played "Crushing Day" live. In the cases when he did it, it was easy or not, but fans often commented: "You messed up the solo." In the video above, the difficult part lasts from about 01:50 to 03:50 (that is, a full 2 minutes).

Graham Major

The fourth etude from the first version of the six "Paganini Etudes'' by Franz Liszt (1811-1886) for piano, or "Transcendental Etudes after Paganini" (1837), is usually considered impossible to perform at the specified tempo. Presumably, Liszt could have played at this tempo himself.

The set of sketches was dedicated to Clara Schumann. There is no evidence of her or other virtuosos of that time (for example, Charles-Valentin Alkan or Adolph von Henselt) publicly performing etude No. 4 in its original form. Even if the notes themselves were within their technical capabilities, would they be able to play this piece at the stated tempo?

The music itself is not complicated — if you know the notes, it will be easy enough for you to follow them. But playing it is so infernally difficult that Liszt later radically simplified it so that all six etudes were available to Clara and other pianists.

Later Liszt revised it again, creating a third version and calling it "Arpeggio" in the reissue of all the etudes with the new title "Grandes etudes de Paganini". They were published in 1851 and are the most familiar to everyone in the standard repertoire.

Pianist Nikolai Petrov, who played the first version of the 4th etude, performed it a little slower than noted in Liszt - 9% slower, to be precise. Then the recording of his performance is accelerated to the exact tempo of the Sheet — note how small the difference is, but it is enough to make the sketch completely "unplayable" — and the score is shown to show how diabolical the original is.