Piano Music in Nodame Cantabile
Have you ever come across a movie or series that made you really want to play piano?
Nodame Cantabile is definitely one of them!
Although I have previously played the piano, I had taken a break for 16 years after my poor old piano broke and moved around the world.
This wonderful series encouraged me to return to the piano and start practicing regularly again!
Nodame Cantabile's history
Originally an award manga series in a Japanese magazine, Nodame Cantabile (のだめカンタービレ) was created by Tomoko Ninomiya. It has since been turned into a very successful three season anime series and a live action television drama with two seasons.
It follows the lives of Megumi Noda (Nodame) and the friends she makes while she studies at Momogaoka College of Music, and after she graduates.
I was delighted to find out that the character Nodame was based on a real life person - a messy and sloppy music student, who is now a music teacher in one of my favourite Japanese cities, Fukuoka.
The music is really the star of the series though, and we are treated to a wide variety of excellent piano solos, orchestral music, along with a variety of other instruments and some original compositions.
→ Piano music in Nodame by composer, with links to purchase or download.
Piano music in Nodame Cantabile, by Composer
Even if you aren't a classical fan, you'll recognize the music played in many episodes.
The music in the live action is not the same as in the anime, but just as good!
Jump to the composer you are interested in, or simply scroll down.
Bach's piano works
The first time Bach is featured in the anime series, it's his St. Matthew Passion, amazingly played by ear on the piano by Nodame.
The second series starts with a couple of Bach piano concertos, the first of which is Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor BWV1052, which is also featured in one of the live action movies, played and conducted by Chiaki.
Nodame performs Bach's Italian concerto (BVW 971) for a small (but rich) audience in her usually passionate style, surprising by impressing them.
Bach is put on hold until midway through the third season when we hear a few pieces from his Well Tempered Klavier as competition pieces: from Book I, No. 22 (Prelude) in B-flat minor and from Book 2, No.4 (Fugue) in C-sharp minor.
The full Bach collection
PianoStreet offers Bach's music (and many other composers) as printable sheet music for a small membership fee.
I find the forums on the site fantastic for getting support from other pianists and teachers, well worth joining, even for the free 'silver' subscription.
Did you know?
Bach lived near, ran a boys' school for, and was the organist at the most famous church here in Leipzig - St Thomas Church.
You can see (and hear) Bach's music and history on the Leipzig Notenspur - a walking track dedicated to the huge number of musicians and composers who lived and worked in Leipzig.
Allegro Barbaro by Bartók appeared relatively early in Nodame Cantabile, based on Hungarian and Romanian folk music.
Although I haven't played this particular piece myself, I have enjoyed some of Bartók's other fun piano works, especially the Diary of a Fly - it makes people listening to it queasy!
Barenboim performing Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata
Beethoven's passionate piano
Piano concerto No. 5 in E flat major (Emperor) makes a grand appearance in the first episode.
The Emperor was Beethoven's final piano concerto, and it was first performed in 1811 in Leipzig - where I currently live!
It is normally performed by a pianist and orchestra, but you can occasionally find it scored for two pianos.
Beethoven's piano sonatas are perfect for playing yourself out of a bad mood!
The adagio cantabile movement from Piano Sonata No. 8 (Pathétique) was also featured early in the first season, before Beethoven was put aside to showcase other composers until the final few episodes.
Piano Sonatas No. 23 Op. 57 in F minor, and No. 14 in C sharp minor (Moonlight) both appear in a feverish episode towards the end of the first season in the anime, although a little earlier in the live action.
Nodame plays Sonata No. 31 in A flat major in the third anime season
Beethoven's Sonata for Piano and Violin in F major, Op. 24 "Spring" is also featured in the first season of both the anime and the live action.
Did you know?
Beethoven composed most of his piano sonatas to receive a regular income from the publishers, particularly later in his life when his health difficulties worsened.
In the live action series, Nodame also performs a fantastic piano version Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92 in season one.
Liszt transcribed this symphony for solo piano, along with many of Beethoven's other symphonies. This was the version that Nodame played.
Beethoven was said to consider it to be one of his best works, although conductor Thomas Beecham disparaged it as sounding like a herd of leaping yaks.
Download Variations on a Theme of Paganini by Brahms for free from the IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library - a large collection of music by many composers in the public domain.
Variations on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 35 is a legendary piano piece and one that is extremely difficult to play.
World famous pianist Clara Schumann called it the Witch's Variations because it is such a technical challenge.
So of course, it had to be played in Nodame Cantabile at a competition!
Chopin's piano pieces
Fantasie Impromptu is one of the most well known of Chopin's piano pieces and is difficult to play, so of course it had to be featured.
The name indicates is an elaborate improvisation, similar to those in the middle of concertos. It's a beautiful piece of music!
I find the interpretation by the pianist above simply beautiful!
Midway through the first anime series, Nodame plays Etude Op. 10 No. 4 as well as Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1, as her teachers encourage her to play in different styles.
Scherzo No. 4 in E major was featured at the end of the first season. Chopin based this on a Polish folk song.
Unfortunately, Chopin was ignored throughout the second season, but made a grand return in the third anime series with Etudes Op. 10 numbers 8 and 12, and Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2, as competition pieces.
Chopin's Nocturnes have a regular spot in my practice time - I love how they can be packed with emotions.
Along with my Songs Without Words book (Mendelssohn), they are amongst the rattiest books in my music library - missing covers, dog-eared pages with pencil scribbles from practice notes.
Chopin's beautiful Polonaise-Fantasie in A flat major, Op 61 was performed at a recital. The sheet music and many others are in the public domain, and available as free downloads. (Polonaise-Fantasie sheet music on musopen.org)
Towards the end of the final season, Nodame learns and performs Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor beautifully.
Did you know?
Chopin actually wrote this piano concerto second, even though it was published first. His first piano concerto is actually No. 2!
A magical composer with stunning pieces for the piano, L'Isle Joyeuse was played in the live action by Nodame.
A beautiful version, sparkling and happy, a lovely piece!
Unfortunately, that was all the Debussy for solo piano in the entire series, although his flute and orchestral pieces also were featured.
I never would have pictured Liszt's piano music as whimsical, but that is just what Transcendental Étude No. 5 (Feux follets) is, although it is very demanding to play!
The incredible start of Légende No. 2: St. Francois de Paule marchant sur le flots provided a great change in mood at the Mozart recital.
You could also hear Nodame playing Liszt's Légende No. 1: St François d'Assise, packed full of trills.
Transcendental Étude No. 4 (Mazeppe) appeared in the second season.
Nodame was my first introduction to Liszt, even though he has an incredible number of piano works. It will be a big challenge of me to play his technical challenging compositions.
You can download Liszt's Transcendental Etudes and other piano music from the open-source music library to print yourself.
Mendelssohn's piano music
My favourite composer, who I recently discovered, also worked for much of his life in Leipzig - where I now live!
Songs Without Words is one of my favourite collections of his works. The first, Op. 19 No. 1 (Sweet Remembrance) was played by Nodame at a recital.
But this was the only Mendelssohn piano work that was featured - such a shame!
The Songs without Words is a great collection for many proficiency levels - there are easier pieces, and some extremely difficult.
A fantastic performance of Mozart's Piano Sonata for four hands
Mozart's magical piano
Featured right from the start with his Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major played by both Chiaki and Nodame, Mozart is a recurring composer in Nodame Cantabile.
Nodame cosplays as Mozart, charming people with Twelve Variations on Ah vous dirai-je, Maman (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), one of the pieces I played when younger at an exam, but not nearly so prettily as Nodame at her recital.
Much more of Mozart's music was featured throughout in Nodame Cantabile, including the piano pieces listed below.
- Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor (K310)
- Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major (K331)
- Piano Sonata No. 18 in D Major (K576)
A lot of Mozart's music for piano (Serie IX: Klaviermusik, then click on the i and then the PDF) and other instruments is downloadable for free from the Mozarteum Foundation in Salzberg.
Chiaki performed the first of the Rachmaninov pieces in a grand concert - Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18.
It's a stunning and difficult piece, and one of his most popular.
Later, Nodame joined Chiaki in performing a double-piano version, sparking uproar in the music university.
Did you know?
Rachmaninov's piano concerto was the inspiration for and basis of Frank Sinatra's "Full Moon and Empty Arms"?
Gaspard de la nuit (Treasurer of the night) was performed at a competition, late in season one. Ravel wrote this piece deliberately to be difficult!
Miroirs (Reflections) is a suite of five movements, dedicated to Ravel's artistic friends, and was played at the opening to season two. One of the movements was also played in season three of the anime.
Nodame plays Ma mère l'oye (Mother Goose), a sweet piece, as a break from her normal studies.
At the Nodame's Mozart recital, Jeux d’eau (Water Games) was also a hit with the audience.
Piano Concerto in G major, No. 1 was featured towards the end of season 2, which Chiaki conducting.
Did you know?
On the original manuscript for , Ravel wrote the description which translates to "River god laughing as the water tickles him..."
Scarlatti's Sonata K159 in C Major was played very smoothly by Nodame, while Rui struggled with it in season three.
As this is in the public domain, you can get the piano score from a number of websites.
Piano Sonata in A minor, D. 845 by Schubert was the piece to get me interested in this composer.
I had previously avoided him thanks to a couple of lesser pieces encountered during exams.
Nodame plays Schubert's most famous piano sonata beautifully throughout the anime, and I've since added it to my collection of sheet music.
Another composer who lived in Leipzig for many years, Schumann's piano music appeared in Nodame first with Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22, as a competition piece.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16 was featured late in season three at a competition. Schumann dedicated this piece to Chopin, and subtitled it Phantasien für das Pianoforte.
Did you know?
Clara Wieck, a world famous pianist, encouraged Robert Schumann to revise the final movement of the Sonata No. 2 in G minor to be easier to play. Two years after this, they married.
In the live action, Nodame plays a few movements from Stravinsky's piano arrangement of the ballet Petrushka.
Again, like much of the music in Nodame cantabile, it is very technically demanding, with leaps and bounds all over the keyboard.
But it looks like a lot of fun to play!
List of all piano music in Nodame Cantabile
St. Matthew Passion
Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor
Well Tempered Klavier, Book 1, No. 22 and Book 2, No. 4
Piano concerto No. 5 in E flat major (Emperor)
Piano Sonata No. 8 (Pathétique)
Piano Sonatas No. 14 (Moonlight), 23, and 31
Sonata for Piano and Violin in F major (Spring)
Variations on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 35
Etudes Op. 10 No. 4, No. 8, No. 12
Nocturnes Op. 55 No.1, Op. 9 No. 2
Scherzo No. 4 in E major
Polonaise-Fantasie in A flat major
Piano Cocerto No. 1
Transcendental Études No. 4 (Mazeppe) and No. 5 (Feux follets)
Légende No. 1: St François d'Assise and No. 2: St. Francois de Paule marchant sur le flots
Songs Without Words Op. 19 No. 1
Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major
Twelve Variations on Ah vous dirai-je, Maman
Piano Sonatas No. 8, No. 11 and No. 18
Piano Concerto No. 2
Gaspard de la nuit
Ma mère l'oye
Piano Concerto in G major, No. 1
Sonata K159 in C Major
Piano Sonata in A minor, D. 845
Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22
Kreisleriana, Op. 16
Petrushka for piano
Which of the piano pieces in Nodame Cantabile is your favorite - to listen to, or to play?
Do you have another favourite anime or movie about classical music?
Let us know in the comments below!
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