I've put together a list of recommended pieces for intermediate-level classical guitarists.
These are relatively well-known compositions suitable for those who might be thinking, ""I'm starting to get tired of beginner pieces,"" or ""I'd like to challenge myself with concert-worthy music.""
Please feel free to use this as a reference.
Intermediate-Level Classical Guitar Pieces for You
Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude BWV1007
"Unaccompanied Cello Suite" is a suite composed by Johann Sebastian Bach for solo cello.
It consists of six different suites, with this piece typically referring to the Prelude from Suite No. 1.
The Prelude from Suite No. 1 is the most well-known of the suites and has been featured in various TV commercials.
Despite being a "cello suite," it's often performed on classical guitar as well, with the version arranged by Segovia being quite famous.
The beautiful melody that unfolds with the same rhythm is quite impressive.
Towards the end, there are phrases that ascend chromatically, adding richness and making the piece approachable and expressive.
It might be a bit challenging for beginners, but it doesn't come with an extremely high level of technical difficulty.
Therefore, I believe it's a piece that intermediate-level classical guitarists will find relatively easy to tackle.
The video includes an introduction, but the actual performance of "Sunburst" begins at 2:11.
"Sunburst" is a signature piece by the contemporary renowned guitarist and composer, Andrew York.
Even classical guitar beginners are likely familiar with this composition.
Andrew York himself, as well as other professionals like Dai Kimura and John Williams, have interpreted this piece, each contributing their unique charm to the performance.
Throughout the entire composition, "Sunburst" exudes a refreshing and bright character.
The low bass passages in the middle section are particularly striking, and at first glance, they may appear quite challenging.
However, by tuning down the 1st and 6th strings to a D (Re) in a non-standard tuning, it becomes more playable than it seems.
The resonance of the open strings is distinct, and this tuning is also used in York's "Moontan."
This distinctive low bass passage is made more manageable by incorporating a combination of hammer-ons and pull-offs, utilizing the non-standard tuning and open strings, although it's still quite challenging.
While many musicians have performed "Sunburst," Andrew York's rendition arguably captures the essence of the piece most faithfully.
His nuanced accents, especially in the low bass passage, provide a unique interpretation that is difficult to replicate.
Recuerdos de la Alhambra
"Recuerdos de la Alhambra" is one of the most famous pieces in the classical guitar repertoire, composed by Francisco Tarrega, known for other compositions like "Lagrima."
It's a renowned and challenging piece, inspiring many classical guitar enthusiasts to aspire to play it one day.
This composition heavily relies on the "tremolo technique," where the thumb plucks the bass notes while the other fingers consecutively pluck one string.
The intricate fingerpicking patterns and complex left-hand fingering make it a demanding piece that requires precise control of both hands.
However, its beauty is undeniable, making it one of the most captivating pieces in the classical guitar repertoire.
It's an excellent choice for practicing tremolo and offers a rewarding challenge for intermediate-level players.
In fact, there are even more challenging tremolo pieces like "El ultimo tremolo (Una limosna por el amor de dios)" and "Un Sueno en la Floresta."
As a piece that you can continue to enjoy throughout your lifetime, "Recuerdos de la Alhambra" is highly recommended for intermediate-level classical guitarists.
If you'd like to learn more about this piece, we also have an article dedicated to "Recuerdos de la Alhambra."
"Las Abejas" is a composition by Agustin Barrios Mangore, known for other pieces like "La Catedral," and it's particularly attractive due to its sense of speed.
Compared to some other compositions, it may not be as widely recognized, but it seems to be gaining popularity in recent times.
As one would expect from Barrios, a virtuoso guitarist, this piece is crafted to be more playable than it might appear, thanks to the use of hammer-ons and pull-offs.
This aspect makes it a recommended choice for intermediate guitarists.
It's also an excellent piece for practicing faster single-note playing and arpeggios.
The relatively short duration, about 2 minutes, makes it an accessible and valuable addition to your repertoire.
I've included a reference performance link where you can watch Ami Inui, famous for her lightning-fast rendition of "El Colibri," play this piece.
However, please rest assured that you don't need to play it as fast as she does to make it sound great; it's a cool piece even at a more moderate tempo!
Vals Op.8, No.4
"Vals Op. 8, No. 4" is another composition by Agustin Barrios Mangore, as mentioned earlier.
This composer is also known for "Vals Op. 8, No. 3," but this piece is particularly memorable due to its bright and lively phrases, making it an often-heard piece at concerts and similar events.
The main theme of this composition features arpeggios, fast high-pitched phrases, and in the middle section, intricate arpeggios accompanied by a low melodic line played with the thumb.
The ending includes harmonies with a light and lively waltz-like phrase, presenting a rich and expressive structure.
This piece offers an excellent opportunity for intermediate-level players to develop various techniques.
While it is more challenging compared to some other pieces, it is also highly appealing and a must-try masterpiece for intermediate to advanced guitarists.
"Cavatina" is the theme song from the 1978 American film "The Deer Hunter."
It was composed by Stanley Myers, a British composer, and performed by John Williams, known as the "King of Guitar."
What's particularly striking about this piece is its exceptionally beautiful melody and the chord progressions that evoke a sense of beauty tinged with melancholy, a stark contrast to its depiction in a film about the Vietnam War.
It truly showcases the enchanting qualities of the guitar.
Incidentally, this song features numerous instances where your left hand needs to be in great shape, making it quite challenging to play throughout.
While listening and playing, the impression of the piece can change drastically.
On the other hand, the piece offers valuable opportunities for intermediate players to develop their skills, as it requires a balance between the melody and accompaniment, specific fingering techniques to produce beautiful sounds, and the expressiveness needed to prevent monotony in the music.
Personally, it's one of my top favorite guitar pieces, but I can't play it too often due to the risk of developing tendonitis.
"Choros No.1" is a composition by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.
Villa-Lobos was a self-taught composer known for his unique style that incorporated elements of Brazilian music.
He was also renowned for his prolific output, leaving behind nearly 1,000 compositions in his lifetime. (It's believed there may be even more due to lost sheet music.)
"Choros No.1" starts with a catchy rhythm and a repeated minor key phrase.
In the middle, it modulates to a major key and unfolds a beautiful, tranquil melody.
The piece is marked by the use of cool tension chords and remains captivating throughout, never becoming monotonous.
In terms of difficulty, there are some challenging fingerings due to tension chords and stretches in certain parts.
However, overall, it's at a level where intermediate players should be able to play it with some effort, making it ideal for enhancing rhythmic playing and expressive skills.
The recurring phrases are highly impressive, and in my experience, it's relatively well-received even by people who are "listening to classical guitar music for the first time."
So, in that regard, it's highly recommended.
It's worth noting that Villa-Lobos composed a series of Choros up to the No.14, each with a different instrument arrangement.
While the No.1 was composed for solo guitar, the No.2 used flute and clarinet, and the No.11 featured a piano and orchestra.
What's particularly astounding is that Villa-Lobos, who was self-taught, could understand and compose for a wide range of instruments.
Additionally, he left behind a set of etudes specifically for classical guitar, such as the No.7, which includes impressive high-speed passages while not feeling excessively "study-like," making it another recommendation for intermediate players.
"Verano Porteño" is a piece composed by Astor Piazzolla, famous for works like "Libertango," and it is part of "Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas" (The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires).
In the world of classical guitar, "Primavera Porteña" is also commonly performed, and this composition is highly beloved as well.
The opening phrase is extremely memorable and cool, and even as a beginner, I used to play just that phrase over and over again, as it's quite catchy, to be honest.
As it's a tango, it features unique and challenging rhythms, but overall, I believe that intermediate-level guitarists can overcome these challenges with practice.
This piece provides an excellent opportunity to practice playing with a tango-like rhythm and achieving a balanced and staccato performance, which makes it a great choice for intermediate players.
I, personally, hope to master "Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas," including "Primavera Porteña," someday.
While "Sunflower" may have a different flavor compared to the previous pieces, it's also a recommended choice for classical guitar performance.
This composition serves as the theme song for the Italian film "I Girasoli" and was composed by Henry Mancini, well-known for "Moon River."
It features a melancholic and beautiful melody that leaves a lasting impression.
The subtle use of "half-step movements" throughout the composition adds to the bittersweet ambiance, making it one of the popular pieces among Mancini's works.
Although it's not frequently played on the guitar, Japanese musicians seem to have embraced it, but it's not as common in other countries based on my research.
In terms of difficulty, it's relatively easier compared to the other pieces mentioned on this page, making it suitable for players in the "beginner to intermediate" range.
It provides an opportunity to practice expressing the melody beautifully and enhancing the technique of creating a relaxed yet captivating atmosphere.
I've compiled a list of recommended pieces for intermediate classical guitar players.
In terms of difficulty, I must admit that it has become quite diverse.
People's perceptions of what's considered "beginner" or "advanced" may vary, and I apologize for any inconsistencies.
However, within this list, I hope you can find pieces that strike a balance between "playable" and "challenging" according to your own preferences and abilities.
I believe that one of the quickest paths to improvement is taking on pieces you want to play, so even if something seems challenging, don't be discouraged, and give it your best effort, no matter how long it takes.
I'm also working towards playing "Cavatina" myself.
Thank you for reading until the end.