The 3 Easiest Beethoven Sonatas (piano)

Introduction

Let’s get something straight – when we talk about “easy” Beethoven sonatas, we are of course talking about easy relative the rest of his sonatas, of which he is known to have written about 32. The first two sonatas you will see here are almost universally agreed to be his easiest, while the third one is not so obvious. There were definitely several contenders for the third place, so after the technical considerations, my choice at the end came down to my own personal taste, which I hope you will share and appreciate! 

So if you can’t wait to finally try your hand at a Beethoven sonata, here are some some great options for you to start with. Happy playing!

#1. Sonata No.19 in G Minor, Op.49 No.1 ("Leichte Sonata")

This is the first of two sonatas nicknamed “Leichte Sonaten”, which is German for “Easy Sonatas” (the second one will be covered next). Because of their relative ease, these sonatas are thought to have been written for Beethoven’s students. Though composed around 1795-1796, they were not published until 1805, when Beethoven’s brother Kaspar took them to the publishing house against Beethoven’s wishes. Thank you, Kaspar!

QUICK FACTS
  • Composed1795-1796
  • Key: G Minor
  • Movements: 2 (Andante, Rondo: Allegro)
  • Duration: ~ 8 minutes
  • Ability Level: RCM Level 8 – high intermediate
  • My personal rating: 4/5 (really like it!)

WHAT’S EASY ABOUT IT:

  • The key(s). G Minor with its two flats is a relatively easy key to manage.
     
  • 1st Movement tempo. The first movement is in “Andante” (at a walking pace) speed, which should be very comfortable even for an intermediate-level pianist.

WHAT YOU MIGHT FIND DIFFICULT ABOUT IT:

  • 2nd Movement tempo. Be prepared to move those fingers in the 2nd, “Allegro” movement, especially when you get to the sixteenth notes.

  • Turns. Yep, that’s the musical ornament that tells you to play several quick notes inbetween two main notes. This will require some practicing to get it just right! You will encounter these in both 1st and 2nd movements.

  • Staccatissimos. The 2nd Movement contains many staccatissimo notes (short staccatos), which adds another little challenge to the already fast tempo. You will need a very relaxed wrist here and do plenty of slow practice.

#2. Sonata No.20 in G Major, Op.49 No.2 ("Leichte Sonata")

Here is the second of Beethoven’s “Leichte Sonaten”, or “Easy Sonatas”. This one is written in G Major instead of Minor. I personally like this one a bit more than the first, but you decide for yourself!

QUICK FACTS
  • Composed1795-1796
  • Key: G Major
  • Movements: 2 (Allegro ma non troppo, Tempo di menuetto)
  • Duration: ~ 8 minutes
  • Ability Level: RCM Level 8 – high intermediate
  • My personal rating: 5/5 (love it!)

WHAT’S EASY ABOUT IT:

  • The key(s). G major with its one sharp should not pose much of a challenge.

  • 2nd Movement tempo. “Tempo di Menuetto” is quite similar to “Andante” and should be quite comfortable for most intermediate-level players.

WHAT YOU MIGHT FIND DIFFICULT ABOUT IT:

  • 1st Movement tempo. Although it’s not very fast, “Allegro non troppo” might be a challenge for some people.

  • Scale runs. The piece contains occasional scale runs that have to be done quickly and with precision. Hope you’ve been practicing your scales!

#3. Sonata No.1 in F Minor, Op.2 No.1

Okay, let’s be honest – this one is quite a jump from the first two sonatas. But hey, why not challenge yourself a bit? Think of this one as the easiest of the “hard sonatas”. By looking at the Quick Facts alone, you will see that it has 4 movements instead of just 2 of our previous sonatas, as well as a more demanding key. You will also notice that it’s considered two RCM levels above the previous two sonatas (level 10 vs. level 8), which reflects its bigger technical demands. If it looks a bit intimidating to you, I definitely recommend starting with one of the first two. But if you’re up to the challenge – then dive in!

QUICK FACTS
  • Composed1795
  • Key: F Minor & F Major
  • Movements: 4 (Allegro, Adagio, Menuetto and Trio (Allegretto), Prestissimo)
  • Duration: ~ 15-18 minutes
  • Ability Level: RCM Level 10 – advanced
  • My personal rating: 5/5 (love it!)

WHAT’S EASY ABOUT IT:

  • 2nd Movement tempo. The 2nd movement “Adagio” is quite a comfortable tempo, although the occasional thirty-second notes will keep you on your toes. The 3rd Movement “Allegretto” is also quite manageable.

WHAT YOU MIGHT FIND DIFFICULT ABOUT IT:

  • 4th Movement tempo. If you thought the “Allegro” of the 1st movement was fast, wait until you get the “Prestissimo” of the 4th movement. You’d better have some speed in those fingers!

  • The key(s). The sonata fluctuates between the keys of F Minor and F Major. While F Major is relatively simple, the F Minor with its four flats might be a bit of a challenge for some.

* Want to get the most out of your practicing? Take a look at our “5 Best Practice Tips for Music Students”

* Wondering if your child is gifted in music? Take a look at: “6 Signs Your Child Is Musically Gifted”

* Learn everything you need to know about RCM exams with our  “RCM Exams: Your Complete Guide”

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