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50 Best Piano Songs of All Time

December 12, 2023
best piano songs

I’ve compiled a collection of the best piano songs of all time, pieces that stand out for their beauty, complexity, and the emotions they evoke.

This article is a celebration of the piano’s versatility and the timeless melodies that have become landmarks in the world of music.

Table of Contents

Top piano songs of all time

  • “Moonlight Sonata” by Ludwig Van Beethoven
  • “Claire De Lune” by Claude Debussy
  • “River Flows In You” by Yiruma
  • “Minute Waltz” by Frederic Chopin
  • “Rondo Alla Turca” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • “Für Elise” by Ludwig Van Beethoven
  • “Canon In D” by Johann Pachelbel
  • “Mad World” by Michael Andrews
  • “Let It Be” by The Beatles
  • “Someone Like You” by Adele

1. “Moonlight Sonata” by Ludwig Van Beethoven 

Let’s start with one of the most popular classical pieces for piano.

“Moonlight Sonata” is not so easy to play, and it requires hand dexterity and prompt timing.

In fact, the song has an unusual tempo for a sonata – it goes slow-medium-fast instead of standard fast-slow-fast.

But one of the most challenging things about playing “Moonlight Sonata” is the emotion.

Besides playing the correct notes and tempo, you need to add that mysterious and profound sound to it.

2. “Claire De Lune” by Claude Debussy 

Claire De Lune” also means moonlight in French.

But this composition is a lot different than Beethoven’s sonata – it starts off more gently.

It’s one of Debussy’s early compositions, and it’s arguably one of the most beautiful piano songs.

The first movement is also not too difficult to play if you have some skills.

3. “River Flows In You” by Yiruma 

“River Flows In You” is one of the most famous piano songs, especially among amateur piano players.

Lee Ru-ma (Yiruma) is a South Korean pianist and composer.

His stage name Yiruma means ‘I shall achieve’ in Korean.

And he managed to achieve a lot; his tender compositions have become known around the world.

In his music, he mostly tackles the themes of nature, emotions, and passage of time. 

4. “Minute Waltz” by Frederic Chopin

Chopin was a Polish composer and pianist of the Romantic period.

And he was one of the best.

His piece “Minute Waltz” is rather joyous and lively, in contrast to his famous nocturnes.

Chopin dedicated it to the Countess Delfina Potocka, his friend and muse.

5. “Rondo Alla Turca” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 

If you’re looking for the best music for piano, coming across Mozart is inevitable.

He was a piano genius, and his sonata “Rondo Alla Turca” is one of the proofs.

It’s also known as “Turkish Rondo” and “Turkish March”, and it’s regarded as one of Mozart’s best-known piano pieces.

It’s a rather demanding piece, and normally a performance of this entire sonata takes about 20 minutes.

6. “Für Elise” by Ludwig Van Beethoven

Every piano student encounters “Für Elise” at one point.

It’s arguably one of the most popular piano songs.

But the song wasn’t published during Beethoven’s lifetime – it was discovered 40 years after his death.

The identity of Elise is unknown, although many musicologists have theories about it. 

One of the famous theories claims the song was dedicated to Elisabeth Röckel, a German soprano singer and Beethoven’s friend.

7. “Canon In D” by Johann Pachelbel

Although “Canon In D” isn’t what first comes to mind when thinking about best piano music, it’s certainly worth mentioning.

Just like other canons, the song has a rich music texture and layering. 

And even when it’s played solo on piano, it sounds astonishing.

8. “Mad World” by Michael Andrews 

When it comes to modern popular piano songs, “Mad World” is one of the best tracks. 

The song was originally performed by Tears For Fears, and musician and composer Michael Andrews recorded a famous cover version with Gary Jules.

The song became a UK Christmas number 1 in 2003.

It’s tender and melancholic, and it’s fairly easy to learn it on piano.

9. “Let It Be” by The Beatles

If you’re looking for popular songs to play on the piano, this one’s for you.

Needless to say, “Let It Be” is a Beatles classic.

It was released in 1970, almost a month after the group’s break-up.

And it’s now regarded as their signature song and one of the greatest piano-driven songs of all time.

10. “Someone Like You” by Adele 

Adele released “Someone Like You” in 2011, and the song has been a huge hit ever since.

It was inspired by Adele’s personal experiences and an end of the relationship with her boyfriend.

It’s a piano-driven ballad, and it’s a perfect song to learn on piano if you’re a beginner.

But you’ll have to pour all the emotions into it; after all, it’s Adele.

And as far as singing is concerned, you might want to spend some time practicing first.

11. “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys

Another song you can add to your private concert setlist is “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys.

It’s a soulful, piano-driven ballad about the emotions you feel when you care about someone in a very deep and genuine way.

But the song also has a sad element to it, so if you’re going through some hard times, you might find it relatable.

12. “Clocks” by Coldplay 

Coldplay’s “Clocks” is a popular choice among piano beginners.

The song is not too difficult, but it requires a steady rhythm. 

Either way, it’s one of Coldplay’s best pieces of work.

It has the vibes of the band’s early music; and there’s something very liberating about it.

Plus, it doesn’t seem to get old, no matter how much you listen to it.

13. “Piano Man” by Billy Joel 

Without a doubt, “Piano Man” is one of the most famous piano songs.

The song was Billy Joel’s first major hit, and it’s now considered his signature song.

Lyrically, it’s about Joel’s personal experiences of being a piano-lounge singer in L.A.

He mentions the regular crowd that shows up in a bar, and his job is to help them forget about their lives for a while. 

14. “Pyramid Song” by Radiohead 

“Pyramid Song” is one of Radiohead’s best-known piano songs.

It’s taken from the band’s fifth studio album “Amnesiac” released in 2001.

Thom Yorke wrote while he was spending time in Cornwall, mostly walking and playing grand piano.

And you can hear that in a song – it’s melancholic, slightly mysterious, and ideal for gloomy weather.

15. “Sinnerman” by Nina Simone 

The moment we hear that piano in the beginning of “Sinnerman”, something makes us feel more awake.

It’s a fast-paced song characterized by the iconic piano playing, thoughtful lyrics, and Nina Simone’s unmatched energy.

And it’s a timeless classic. 

16. “One Of These Things First” by Nick Drake 

Nick Drake recorded many memorable, sentimental songs during his lifetime.

And although he didn’t have a wide audience or fame at the time, his music will always be remembered.

And “One Of These Things First” is one of his most beautiful tracks, especially if you pay attention to the story.

In essence, it’s about dreams of what he could’ve been.

17. “Piano Concerto” by Clara Schumann

“Piano Concerto” by Clara Schumann is a popular classical piece for piano.

It’s a three-movement piece, and it shows her talent and creativity.

It’s also full of all kinds of emotions.

Therefore, it’s not an easy song to play on the piano.

But you can simply listen to it and be inspired.

18. “Piano Concerto #2 in C Minor, Op. 18” by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff is widely regarded as one of the greatest pianists of all time.

He was also one of the last representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music.

“Piano Concerto #2 in C Minor” is one of his most famous piano compositions.

It’s quite challenging to play it, so if you want to learn it on piano, you’ll have to put in a lot of effort.

19. “Piano Trio” by Rebecca Clarke 

Rebecca Clarke was a famous British composer and violist in the 20th century.

She became one of the first female professional orchestral players. 

Her music is very expressive and passionate, and “Piano Trio” is a good example.

Although  Rebecca Clarke is known primarily as a viola virtuoso, her music also sounds powerful on a piano.

20. “Liebestraum No. 3” by Franz Liszt 

Franz Liszt is another piano icon.

He was a renowned virtuoso pianist in the 19th century.

He was also a friend and a benefactor to many composers including Chopin, Wagner, Berlioz, and Schumann, just to name a few.

And “Liebestraum No. 3” is one of his notable works.

But if you want to play it on the piano, you need to have some experience as it’s technically rather demanding.

21. “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky 

“Swan Lake” is arguably one of the most beautiful melodies in classical music.

It’s from a legendary ballet of the same name.

Although it’s made for the whole orchestra, playing it on the piano gives this piece a different atmosphere.

Either way, it’s powerful and magical, and it shows Tchaikovsky’s immense talent. 

22. “The Well Tempered Clavier” by J.S. Bach

Bach is another composer every piano student has to deal with.

Of course, he was one of the best, and his piano music is historically relevant.

And “The Well Tempered Clavier” proves that as a composer, Bach was ahead of his time.

It’s a beautiful and innovative piece that inspired many composers.

23. “Waltz No. 2” by Dmitri Shostakovich

“Waltz No. 2” is Dmitri Shostakovich’s best-known work

It’s a proud piece for music, and it doesn’t sound less impressive on the piano.

After all, Dmitri Shostakovich is regarded as a major composer of the Soviet era.

24. “One Summer’s Day” by Joe Hisaishi

Mamoru Fujisawa, known professionally as Joe Hisaishi, is a famous Japanese composer and musical director.

He is known for over 100 film scores and solo albums.

And “One’s Summer Day” is his beautiful contemporary piece of soundtrack music for the piano.

It’s a part of the popular movie “Spirited Away.”

25. “Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood)” by Robert Schumann 

“Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood)” is a set of thirteen pieces of music for piano.

It’s gentle and sentimental, and Schumann had described it as more cheerful than his previous work.

As the title suggests, pieces explore themes related to childhood such as a game of chase, bad dreams, and bedtime stories.

26. “Piano Concerto No. 5” by Ludwig Van Beethoven 

“Piano Concerto No. 5” is often categorized as one of the best piano songs of all time.

It’s also known as “Emperor Concerto.”

The concert has no association with any emperor though.

Beethoven dedicated it to Archduke Rudolf, who was his patron, friend, and student.

27. “Maple Leaf Rag” by Scott Joplin 

If you’re not familiar with the title of this song, the moment you hear it, you’ll recognize it.

“Maple Leaf Rag” is arguably one of the most famous piano tunes.

And played by Scott Joplin, it sounds just right – playful, joyous, and heartwarming.

28. “Cristofori’s Dream” by David Lanz 

And “Cristofori’s Dream” is very sentimental and peaceful.

It has a perfect song’s title – it will pull you into a world of dreams.

So if you’re looking for some contemporary piano pieces, a Grammy-nominated pianist David Lanz has plenty to offer.

29. “The Fall” by Rhye 

Let’s go back to modern piano-driven music. 

Rhye is a Canadian music project (a duo, to be exact) known for making authentic indie songs. 

“The Fall” is one of their best-known tracks.

It’s characterized by notable piano playing, calm atmosphere, and the singer’s unique, dreamy voice. 

30. “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush 

Kate Bush became a star among young generations after her song “Running Up That Hill” appeared in ‘Stranger Things.’

But she is also known to the world for her song “Wuthering Heights” released in 1986.

The song has a very distinctive piano melody that accompanies Kate’s voice perfectly.

31. “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton

Besides being a popular piano pop song, “A Thousand Miles” music video revolves around the piano.

It was a smash hit in 2002 and released as Vanessa Carlton’s debut single.

When asked about the meaning of the song, Vanessa said: “The song is about a crush I had on a Juilliard student.”

That explains a lot.

32. “Anecdotes” by Joanna Newsom 

Joanna Newsom is a truly unique and talented singer and songwriter.

And her 2015 track “Anecdotes” is one of her famous piano songs.

If you’re looking for something authentic to play on the piano, Joanna Newsom’s dreamy tune would be a good choice.

33. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen 

And if you want to break your piano (not literally, of course), why not try to play “Bohemian Rhapsody”?

Many agree this is one of the greatest rock songs of all time.

And the beginning of the song is fairly easy to play – it’s slow and gentle.

But as the song progresses, it gets more hectic (and epic).

You’ll just have to channel your inner Freddie Mercury.

34. “All Of Me” by John Legend 

John Legend released “All Of Me” in 2013.

The song topped the charts, and it remains one of John Legend’s biggest hits.

It’s a slow and romantic ballad dedicated to his wife Chrissy Teigen.

She also shows up in the music video.

35. “Uncertain Smile” by The The 

The The have been active in various forms since 1979.

And “Uncertain Smile” is one of the band’s best works.

It deserves a spot on this best piano music list because it  features Jools Holland’s iconic piano solo (starts around 3:30).

So if you need something to inspire you, look no further.

36. “Imagine” by John Lennon 

John Lennon’s “Imagine” is an ultimate peace anthem.

It was the best-selling single of his career, and it got inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

But more importantly, it inspired many people around the world.

It’s a reflection of his vision for a better world – and we all need it, especially these days.

37. “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars 

It’s no news that Bruno Mars is a hopeless romantic.

His piano ballad “When I Was Your Man” remains one of his most beloved tracks.

The song was inspired by the time when Mars was worried about losing his girlfriend, Jessica Caban.

38. “Runaway” by Kanye West 

This is probably one of the most popular piano-driven hip hop songs.

It was released in 2010, and it was listed among the best songs of the year by several publications.

And it certainly remains one of West’s best pieces of works.

Plus, there’s a cool piano in the video.

39. “Apocalypse Please” by Muse 

And if you prefer piano-driven rock songs, this one’s for you.

To be more precise, “Apocalypse Please” is an epic rock song.

After all, Muse is a band known for making grandeur, powerful music.

And this is one of their most memorable tunes.

40. “Laura” by Bat For Lashes 

“Laura” by Bat For Lashes is a true gem among the best piano songs.

It’s soft, melancholic, and sentimental, and the piano riff in it is beautiful.

Natasha Khan was inspired by her friend’s unhappiness.

‘We’ve all known Lauras, or we’ve all been Laura for a time’, she explained. 

41. “Marz” by John Grant 

“Marz” by John Grant is also considered one of the great piano songs.

It’s a rather nostalgic track, and it has a notable piano riff.

So if you’re looking for a song to play and sing along to, performing “Marz” would be challenging but worthwhile.

42. “Sylvia Plath” by Ryan Adams 

Ryan Adams has recorded many piano-driven songs. 

And “Sylvia Plath” is one of his most notable tunes released in 2001.

He dedicated the song title to the poet and author, but the song is not necessarily about her.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your own interpretation of the song.

43. “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck 

We also have a jazz piano tune for you.

Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” is familiar to everyone, even to people who don’t like jazz.

And it’s brilliant.

Plus, that piano part will probably inspire you to get into some improvisation.

44. “Dinner At Eight” by Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright allegedly wrote “Dinner At Eight” after having a fight with his father at dinner.

So, the story behind it is not very heartwarming.

And this live performance shows his pure emotion and talent. 

45. “Tom Traubert’s Blues” by Tom Waits 

“Tom Traubert’s Blues” is the opening track from Tom Waits’ fourth studio album “Small Change.”

And it’s typical Waits – slow, bluesy, and profound.

And a live performance with Tom Waits playing the piano makes it even better.

46. “Your Song” by Elton John

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the Piano Man.

And “Your Song” is one of his best works. 

He wrote with the songwriter Bernie Taupin.

It was John’s first international Top 10 chart single, and it still sounds amazing.

47. “Don’t Look Back In Anger” by Oasis 

“Don’t Look Back In Anger” is yet another popular piano song.

It’s a good song to play and sing on the piano because you probably know it by heart.

You just need to be ready for that explosive chorus.

To be more precise, in 2012, it was ranked number 1 on a list of the “50 Most Explosive Choruses” by NME.

48. “I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats 

“I Don’t Like Mondays” is recognizable by the familiar piano intro.

Although it sounds cheerful, the story behind the song is somber; but important.

The song is about the 1979 Cleveland Elementary School shooting in San Diego.

49. “Children” by Robert Miles

“Children” by Robert Miles seems to be a timeless classic.

This famous instrumental composition was released in 1995, and it reached number one in more than 12 countries.

In fact, it was Europe’s most successful single of 1996.

And that’s why it definitely deserves a spot on our best piano music playlist.

50. “The Last Time I Saw Richard” by Joni Mitchell 

Let’s wrap things up with the queen of piano songs.

“The Last Time I Saw Richard” is taken from Joni Mitchell’s iconic album “Blue.” 

And it’s an absolute treasure.

‘All romantics meet the same fate someday’, she sings.

It’s only one of Joni Mitchell’s verses that simply stick with you forever.

Best Piano Songs – Final Thoughts 

We mentioned so many different songs today.

But all of them are widely regarded as top piano songs.

Either way, we hope you found some inspiration for your next piano practice!

Want an easier way to learn piano songs? Check out our complete list and reviews of online piano lessons that work.

Similar Playlists:

Easy Piano Songs

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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