Some Ideas about playing and learning Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” (even in the dark) Video

I had noticed that my original instruction had disappeared so I posted another in the inadvertent darkness of my room. Time really flies and the area dims by nightfall. (It could have been a mood-setting suggestion)

Ideas about:

The Stormy C section of “Fur Elise” and how to play a legato melody through chords:

Playing through:

A very popular piece, that draws so many students to it, “Fur Elise” continues to challenge the player on many levels.

Phrasing in the midst of a Rondo Form:

A gorgeous theme weaving through the composition has a string of repeated half-steps that can easily sound like a treadmill of notes, unless they’re grouped, shaped, contoured and played with a singing tone. (The flexible wrist forward movement helps taper ends of phrases without a conspicuous accent)

In Rondo Form (A section, B, return of A, C, A) The B and C parts have their own character and contrast. The player transitions to a Mozartean interlude, (B) with a rolled out, broken chord bass, against a lovely woven melody. (Keep the left hand smooth, connected and do some chord blocking as a preliminary)

A solo for the right hand in the midst of this section, is ushered in with a Deceptive Cadence. It feels like the opera here, where the orchestra drops out and leaves the soloist to spin a recitative.

The “A” section returns with its doleful theme which leads smoothly to Part C, where Beethoven’s characteristic autograph of sudden emotional outbursts requires a significant mood shift. (See video about fleshing out a melody through a sequence of chords) The bass should feel like a tremolo and not be poked out, but rather grouped by longer measures. Recommended fingering is 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1 etc.

Not long into this “stormy” section, a transition of fluid arpeggios in the home key of “A” minor and a shimmering, descending chromatic scale (like the wind) bring back the opening that blissfully trails off.

Questions of Interpretation:

I’ve gone back and forth between wanting to adhere to Classical boundaries, but intuitively “feeling” that the melody threading through the composition is pervasively Romantic in character.

Having sampled performances by any number of fine pianists as the culmination of my learning process, I favor those that linger, “sing,” and preserve long lyrical lines.

Please share your favorite artists and their readings.

More about “Fur Elise” at:


About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: OR or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
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