“Chopin Saved My Life” : What is the Most Difficult Piano Piece?


“Chopin Saved My Life” is an examination of the impact of Chopin’s Ballad Number One and how it transformed to pianists’ lives.  The narrator at the beginning of the film declares it is one of the most difficult pieces in the piano repertoire. 

Chopin Saved My Life

A moving film exploring the incredible transformative power of Chopin’s Ballade Number 1, a piece of music that has cast a spell on millions of people around the world. Less than ten minutes long and extremely difficult to play, it demands extraordinary feats of control, speed, memory, power and dexterity. In this emotional documentary, two people from opposite sides of the world talk of its effect on their lives. Japanese teenager Momoka, still coming to terms with the earthquake that decimated her community, finds it the perfect outlet for releasing the anguish she hides inside. For Scottish music student Paul, recovering from his fifth brain surgery, the Ballade was literally life changing – he credits its emotional pull for the return of his memory. Also commenting are four of the greatest pianists alive today: Vladimir Ashkenazy, Lang Lang, Imogen Cooper and Stephen Hough.


Undoubtedly the piece is quite difficult:

Just the same, the MOST difficult?  I have three contenders for that title.

The first is Rachmaninov’s 3rd piano concerto:

Film buffs will recognize this as the piece which sent David Helfgott over the edge in the movie “Shine”. 

Certainly a difficult piece but for years, I was thought Debussy’s Claire De Lune took the prize:

Many years later I chanced upon a piece by Ravel: Une Barque sur l’Ocean (from “Miroirs”).

I’ve searched for many years since for a more difficult piece with no success.

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