Are you a budding pianist? When you begin to learn, you'll soon be hearing songs you may want to play everywhere - at live gigs, on the radio or the TV.

But you don't have to be an advanced pianist to create moving and beautiful music - in the words of Oscar Wilde, “I don't play accurately-any one can play accurately- but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.”

With the right teacher, you can start expressing yourself and composing on the piano from your first few lessons, opening up all the wonderful sounds and colours this magical instrument has to offer.

Certain songs are better for beginners, whilst others will need years of study just to read, let alone perform!

Whether you're a beginner or intermediate pianist, with an upright, digital or grand piano at home, or perhaps even a keyboard or synthesizer, be sure to check out our list of the world's most famous piano songs to inspire and motivate you in your practice.

Rondo Alla Turca - Mozart

This famous piece comes from Piano Sonata No.11 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Also known as the 'Turkish March' in English, this is one of Mozart's most famous compositions.

How to play the piano
Do you dream of one day playing Rondo Alla Turca on the piano? (Source: Meetyhtan)

Even if either of these names doesn't ring a bell, check out this performance - you've almost certainly heard the tune somewhere before!

However this one isn't for total beginners - you'll need to have played for at least a year, and probably a few years before you can really approach this piece. If you're there already, Rondo Alla Turca is out of copyright and you can easily look up the sheet music online.

Beginner Piano Lessons: Beethoven’s Fur Elise

Well, perhaps this one is for the advanced beginner or low intermediate player. As with Rondo Alla Turca, you'll need a certain level to tackle this piece, but it's not nearly as complex as it sounds.

You've definitely heard this piece before - it's inspired thousands of people to take up the piano.

You've definitely heard this piece before - it's inspired thousands of people to take up the piano! Often the opening few notes are taught to absolute beginners to get them excited about the piano.

Beethoven was a virtuosic talent, and Fur Elise is possibly his most famous contribution to the classical oeuvre. This piece is shrouded in mystery - scholars are still divided on who exactly this "Elise" was, and the piece itself wasn't published until forty years after Beethoven's death! The popular version we play today is a transcription, so we may never know exactly how Beethoven intended it to sound.

If you'd like something a little more challenging, check out the Moonlight Sonata, another of the most famous piano pieces ever written.

See different online piano lessons on Superprof.

Mistral Gagnant - Renaud

The observant musicophile may notice we've jumped from the classical period and into 20th-century pop! The piano is a versatile instrument, and even if you're not inspired by classical music, there will always be something more contemporary to suit your taste.

Mistral Gagnant is one of the most famous French pop songs ever. It has a timeless, arresting piano intro that has inspired many people to take up the piano.

The combination of melancholy piano and yearning lyrics make this song a French classic. It's been covered many times by other French artists; Jean Jouis Aubert, Lara Fabian, Louane and Florent Pagny to name a few.

Divenire - Ludovico Einaudi

Ludovico Einaudi is an undisputed rockstar of the contemporary classical music world. He has even played his piece 'Elegy for the Arctic' on an iceberg.

We could have chosen many of his works to feature here - Una Mattina, Fly, Primavera, or Nuvole Bianchi. Why not check out all of them?

Einaudi's music has a repetitive, meditative, nostalgic quality, and you may feel as if you've heard this piece somewhere before.

 Hit the Road Jack - Ray Charles

It would be remiss of us to mention piano music without talking about some of the jazz greats. And you can't talk about jazz greats without mentioning Ray Charles!

Do you want to play jazz piano?
Bring out new colours on the piano with the wild world of jazz. (Source: b1-foto)

Hit the Road Jack is one of Ray Charles' most famous songs - the upbeat tune tells the story of a wife admonishing her good-for-nothing husband.

Ray Charles popularised this song in 1961, but did you know it was actually written by Percy Mayfield a year earlier?

Hold the Line - Toto

Along with Africa, this is one of the American rock giant's most famous songs.

The piano part is fast, yet still very accessible to beginners and those just starting with piano lessons.

For those looking for something easy and evocative of the cheesy 80s, you can easily find piano sheet music for this piece online.

Changes - Tupac

This one is for the rap fans! But even if Tupac isn't to your taste, you'll love the melodic piano accompaniment.

Changes was released after Tupac's death in 1998. The lyrics cover racialisation, gang violence and drug abuse in American ghettos.

You may not be up to playing the entire tune at once, but after a few lessons you should be able to pick out the intro!

If I Ain’t Got You - Alicia Keys

Alongside being an incredible vocalist, Alicia Keys was a classically trained pianist. You can hear these classical sensibilities in the piano accompaniments on her tracks.

The best piano pieces ever composed
Add some pop music to your piano repertoire! (Source: cadop)

When his R'n'B classic came out in 2004, it won a variety of prizes, including a Grammy for Best Female R 'n' B Vocal Performance.

Even if you lean more towards the classical side of thing, this piece is worth a listen for its piano line alone.

New Soul - Yael Naim

The astute reader may recognise this piece from Apple adds that came out near the end of the 2000s. Fans of piano music will likely be familiar with Israeli-French singer-songwriter-pianist Yael Naem.

Naim received a lot of exposure from her partnership with Apple and her career skyrocketed. And it's not hard to see why - the song's upbeat and soulful melodies is a sure crowd-pleaser.

Someone Like You - Adele

This piece was an instant classic when it came out, and has since been viewed over 1.4 billion times on YouTube! Adele's peerless voice carries the melody, tied together by the timeless piano part.

If sad, evocative piano music is your vibe, check this one out, or perhaps Skinny Love by Birdie.

Comptine d’un autre été l’après midi - Yann Tiersen

Moving away from pop and into the world of movie music - Yann Tiersen's most famous piece from the Amelie soundtrack is one you've almost certainly encountered before! You'll recognise it from the very first notes with the catchy left-hand accompaniment.

In turns melancholic, moving, silly and whimsical, the film's soundtrack is iconic. In fact, it sold over a million album copies when it came out! Give the whole thing a listen - we particularly love Valse d’Amélie.

Imagine - John Lennon

John Lennon paired his touching lyrics with a simple, yet effective piano accompaniment to create one of the most famous songs of all time.

How do you play Imagine?
Imagine... finding the perfect piano tutor. (Source: LisetteBrodey)

The song quickly became a global anthem for world peace when it was released in 1971. The lyrics were inspired by poetry written by John Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono.

This piece can be played and enjoyed by novices and advanced players alike - it's accessible enough to be played by someone with only a few months of lessons under their belt, and more advanced pianists will be moved by its effective simplicity.

River Flows In You - Yiruma

This piece skyrocketed its composer - Yiruma - to international stardom.

It first gained popularity outside Yiruma's native South Korea when many fans of the Twilight books called for it to be included in the films as Bella's lullaby.

However, it was never to be, as the production team went with a piece composed by the film's score compose, Carter Burwell.

River Flows In You is at once vibrant and melancholy, and can be tackled by intermediate pianists.

Bonus: Some Other Classical Pieces

Lovers of classical music may be asking - where are all the classical pieces on this list!

Here are a few bonus pieces you may like to listen to...

  • Chopin’s La nocturne Op. 9 No. 2
  • Claude Debussy’s Clair de lune
  • Franz Liszt’s La Campanella
  • Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2
  • Wagner’s Piano Sonata in B-flat Minor
  • Brahm's Variations on a Theme by Schumann

None of these pieces is suitable for the beginner, but by familiarizing yourself with these beloved classical pieces, you can start dreaming of one day playing them!

Hopefully, our list has motivated you to start or stick with your piano lessons until you feel confident enough to tackle some of the greatest pieces of all time!

Do you dream of becoming a famous pianist?

Check out our list of famous pianists here.

For some more great British pianists, see here.

Need a Piano teacher?

Enjoyed this article?

3.00/5 - 1 vote(s)


Erin is an Australian musician, writer and francophile living in France.