Piano students in the Intermediate range don’t need to plod through method books to grow technique. In addition, they shouldn’t be subjected to arrangements of the masterworks reduced to painful copies of the original. As example, “Fur Elise” often appears in dumb-down form, with a mid-section excision. What’s left is the bare-bones beginning, usually transposed to a foreign key.
Needless surgery and other trimmings should be an intensive care warning to teachers to scamper off to the Internet for a mouse-click purchase of Burgmuller’s uncut collection: Twenty-Five Progressive Pieces Op. 100. The compositions start off modestly, with an uncluttered page of notes though they move along with a wider harmonic palette and more complex melodic strands.
Each colorful tableau has a technical challenge woven into its musical fabric.
Here are samples from Op. 100
“The Clear Stream” requires a rolling motion (supple wrists) with attention to persistent triplet figures that wind through a stream of broken chords.
“Progress” is based on a scale in thirds (or skips) divided between the hands. The swells of this figure play out at the beginning and end, while the contrasting middle section offers punctuated groupings of dual notes with unexpected accents.
“Inquietude,” like its title, is an unsettled, agitated morsel that speeds by, requiring the player to be in good control throughout. Having a “spongy” wrist, relaxed arms, and sense of riding the crest without going overboard are worthy goals to achieve.
“Harmony of the Angels,” has a soulful melody resonating through undulating broken chords. These can be shaped beautifully with relaxed arms, supple wrists and an understanding of harmonic rhythm. (how the underlying chords resolve or melt into each other at various measures)
A hymn-like outpouring requiring “voicing” of chords and awareness of inter-weaving lines.
About the Composer: (WIKI)
“Johann Friedrich Franz Burgmüller, generally known as Friedrich Burgmüller (4 December 1806 – 13 February 1874) was a German pianist and composer.
“Born in Regensburg, Germany, both his father, August, and brother, Norbert, were musicians. His father was a musical theater director in Weimar and other Southern German centers. After years of studies with Ludwig Spohr and Moritz Hauptmann, Friedrich moved to Paris in 1832, where he stayed until his death. There, he adopted Parisian music and developed his trademark, light style of playing. He wrote many pieces of salon music for the piano and published several albums. Burgmüller also went on to compose piano études (studies) intended for children. They are popular to this day.
“Selections from his Opp. 68, 76, 100, 105 and 109 etudes and his “Ballade” appear in a wide variety of educational collections. In addition to these piano pieces, he composed works without opus numbers including variations, waltzes, nocturnes and polonaises. He composed stage works and two ballets, La Péri and Lady Harriet.”
His most performed piece is the so-called “Peasant Pas de Deux” added to Adolphe Adam’s ballet Giselle for its 1841 premiere. This music was originally titled “Souvenirs de Ratisbonne,” and is still performed today in every production of Giselle.
In his Op. 100 set of 25 studies he has charmed many people with pieces like “La Candeur,” “La Chevalresque,” “L’Arabesque,” and “Ballade.” More demanding pieces are the 18 Characteristic Studies, Op. 109, but the 12 pieces of Op. 105 are even more demanding. Op. 109 contains popular pieces like “Les Perles” (The Pearls) and “L’Orage” (The Storm).
Other Burgmuller tableaux from Op. 100