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Development of Piano Technique all bundled into one collection

Instead of pumping out Hanon and Czerny exercises to build so-called finger dexterity, try Burgmuller’s Op. 100, Twenty-five Progressive Pieces.

Here’s a sample of the challenges posed by the composer in each of these showcased Romantic era tableaux:

Harmony of the Angels:

1) Arpeggios, or broken chord patterns: for smooth execution and curvaceous lines. If you freeze your wrist, you’re out of luck trying to produce a flowing, singing tone legato. Besides, consider a continuum from left hand to right. There’s no other choice.

And to make the whole endeavor, worthwhile, the music is ecstatically beautiful:
(I’ll trade this for Czerny, Hanon, and Schmitt, any day)

2) Redundant 3-note after beat rolls in 16ths, with downbeat bass staccato chords.

Inquietude

Again the need for the supple wrist and rolling forward motion. (Very pivotal to technical development that serves the music–curves the phrase, and heads off angular playing)

3) Realizing two-note pairs (8ths) juxtaposed with a longer note grouping. Creating lyrical, sustained, well-breathed out phrases.

Tender Flower

4) Staccato chords and broken octaves in staccato. Bearing a melody through left hand chords against right hand broken octave staccato. Spinning a contrasting middle section in legato. (also known as mood switching without losing your cool)

The Chase

5) Right Hand Staccato chords, against legato bass line, followed by contrasting, lyrical middle section (More mood switching and spinning a treble melody above spongy after beat chords in the bass.

Ballade

6) TWO rolling groups of three 8th notes in rapid tempo–need dipping wrist to energize redundant streams of notes.
Also, section changes with articulation shifts.

Tarentelle

7) Complex rhythmic groupings attached to treble 8th notes, strung along through many phrases, with light chords in the bass. Then inverted in a middle section.

Gracefulness

I’ll be adding more as I go along.

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Piano Technique: Burgmuller’s Tarentelle, Op. 100-Fueling and shaping fast passages with a dipping, supple wrist (Videos)

Most piano students will have been assigned a Burgmuller selection or two during their formative years of study. And most likely, these would have been snatched from the composer’s Twenty-Five Progressive Pieces, Op. 100 that advance by steps in difficulty, though it can be argued that all contain unique technical challenges.

Composed in the Romantic style, this music is strikingly beautiful while it advances specific technique-related goals.

One of my favorites, “La Tarentelle” in a fast and furious tempo, has its origins steeped in fear.

From Wikipedia

“In the region of Taranto in Italy, the bite of a locally common type of wolf spider, named “tarantula” after the region[3], was popularly believed to be highly poisonous and to lead to a hysterical condition known as tarantism. The stated belief in the 16th and 17th centuries was that victims needed to engage in frenzied dancing to prevent death from tarantism using a very rhythmic and fast music. The particular type of dance and the music played became known as Tarantella.”

It’s no surprise that over time, many composers tried their hand at writing their own Tarantellas. (Italian form)

Rapid, frenzied passage work characterizes Burgmuller’s “Tarantelle,” which requires whole arm activity and supple wrists.

And while it may seem that the fingers are propelling the composer’s music along, they can easily tire if not fueled by a bigger physical energy.

Breathing long, relaxed breaths, being in the moment and thinking slowly through fast stretches of notes, keep the music flowing.

Rolling through three note group figures that are characteristic of 6/8 time, also helps to style and phrase streams of eighth notes. This is where a supple wrist allows an infusion of energy when most needed. For shaping lines, it’s indispensable.

(Notice a SLOW MOTION video-only replay that’s sandwiched into the Lesson video)

A defined section of punctuated quarter note chords found on page 2, shifts the mood and character of the composition giving it a robust, march-like character. At this point, it’s best to style, cajole, and phrase the notes in such a way, that draws listener interest.

Piano Lesson:

Playing Tarentelle in tempo:

RELATED:

La Chasse (The Chase) by Burgmuller


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