Centre for Continuing Education

Exploring Music Course: The Piano

Music. Learn, enjoy, appreciate.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: arrangement of our courses

Some of our courses have moved to online delivery. We aim to continue to deliver a high-quality educational experience through interactive, online classes in real-time. If you are currently enrolled in a course with us, we will be in touch soon with options for your enrolment.

Please note that for online classes, all course materials will be shared electronically. No printed resources will be available.

This music appreciation course explores the repertoire and development of the piano, considering its forerunners in the organ and the harpsichord, through technological advances to the instrument we know and love today.

Some of the most famous classical music of all time has been written for the piano. Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca, Debussy’s Claire de Lune, Chopin’s Nocturnes, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies, Satie’s Gymnopedies, and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, to name just a few.

We will listen to some of the most beautiful and thrilling compositions from the piano repertoire, and discover the composers who helped to find the instrument’s voice. No musical knowledge – or piano skills – are necessary.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • list some great compositions for the piano
  • identify composers who are known for their piano compositions
  • list some genres of composition for the piano
  • describe some of the features of the construction of the piano
  • describe some of the features of the development of the piano.


  • The forerunners of the piano: the organ and the harpsichord
  • The construction of the piano: strings, hammers, pedals
  • The development of the cast-iron frame
  • Why the development of the sustain pedal made such a difference
  • The first composers for the piano: Haydn and Mozart
  • Beethoven’s piano music
  • The piano virtuosos of the 19th century: Liszt and Chopin
  • The French Impressionists: Debussy, Ravel, Satie
  • Piano genres: sonatas, nocturnes, preludes, intermezzos and others
  • Educational music for the piano (and why piano teachers are grateful to Tchaikovsky, Kabalevsky and Clementi)
  • Some suggested repertoire for lapsed piano players
  • Piano textures: Alberti bass, arpeggiated chords, parallel chords
  • Modern developments in the piano and piano music
  • The most loved piano pieces of all time

We will listen to many pieces of piano music, some famous as well as some lesser-known. These include:

  • Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 (‘Moonlight’)
  • Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 (‘Pathétique’)
  • Brahms: Intermezzos
  • Chopin: Etudes, including op. 10 No. 12, "Revolutionary"
  • Chopin: Nocturnes, including No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 9 No. 2
  • Chopin: Preludes, op. 28 (1836-1839), including No. 15, "Raindrop"
  • Debussy: Clair de Lune, Preludes
  • Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsodies
  • Liszt: Liebesträume (Dreams of Love)
  • Liszt: Transcendental Studies (1851)
  • Mozart: Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K.331 (‘Rondo Alla Turca’)
  • Ravel: Jeux d’eau (Fountains)
  • Ravel: Sonatine for piano
  • Satie: Six Gnossiennes
  • Satie: Trois Gymnopédies
  • Schubert: Impromptus and Moment Musiceaux
  • Schumann: Kinderszenen, including “Traumerei” (“Dreaming”)

Intended audience

Designed for fans of classical music, beginners and experienced listeners alike.



Delivery style

This course will be richly illustrated with musical examples, illustrations and video clips. Susan Deas will use the piano to demonstrate musical concepts to the everyday listener. Questions from the class are encouraged and there will be room for discussion throughout the course.


Handouts will be provided in class.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Free, expert advice
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

Exploring Music Course: The Piano

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