"Inquietude" by Burgmuller, "Progress" by Burgmuller, "The Clear Stream" by Burgmuller, Burgmuller, classissima, classissima.com, Friedrich Burgmuller, Intermediate level piano repertoire, piano music in the Romantic genre, piano teaching, playing piano, Shirley Smith Kirsten, Uncategorized, word press, word press.com, wordpress, wordpress.com, you tube video, you tube.com, yout tube, youtube.com

For Intermediate Level students: A joyous way to improve piano technique while savoring the Romantic genre (Videos)

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)

“Ave Maria”
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

“The Chase”




“The Return”

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Burgmuller’s “Tender Flower” for rolling wrist motion (from 25 Progressive Pieces, Op. 100)

This charming Romantic character piece provides a perfect opportunity to practice the forward rolling wrist motion, especially with its motivic pairs of 8th notes. While the second one under the slur is notated as staccato, it should not be clipped. As an example, think about how a singer would phrase these notes. She certainly wouldn’t have a breathy, crisp exit.


The physical and musical approach I enlist when teaching this colorful miniature is demonstrated in steps on video.

In general, all the composer’s 25 Progressive Pieces have individual teaching goals wrapped into them as they simultaneously enchant with their beautiful melodies and lush harmony.

Piano Instruction: “Tender Flower”

In tempo:

The wrist motions are sized down on the 8th pairs as you play quicker

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Practicing knotty piano passages, and tips on how to avoid fatigue while boosting technique (Videos)

At my You Tube Channel site, I routinely pick up comments daily, and the majority center on piano technique. While I lay no claim to being an expert in this complex universe, my trial and error practicing over decades has come with insights that I enjoy sharing.

Earlier today, I’d noticed the following note posted at my site that referred to a devilish strings of repeated notes found in Scarlatti’s D minor Toccata, K. 141:

“My God!

“I can’t believe I’ve found this video—I’ve been killing myself trying to loosen up my 3-2-1 repeated notes for this EXACT piece!

“You’ve helped me to try out new ideas because I was about ready to give up as I no longer take lessons and kept tensing up. I just couldn’t figure out just how to fix myself.”

He referenced one of my comments in passing.

“You mentioned getting fatigued doing the repeated notes later on in the piece…do you think that no matter how loose you are you will eventually get somewhat fatigued by the end of this piece?”


Naturally, I answered his final question, emphasizing the dangers of over-practicing knotty passages, especially those with redundant motions that could cause an overuse injury.

It becomes quickly apparent that if you keep playing 3-2-1 repeated note combinations for hours on end, even if you execute them with a supple wrist and relaxed, flowing arm, the oxygen to the cells is going to give out at some point.

Veda Kaplinksy, a Juilliard School Professor of Piano, had driven this point home loud and clear in one of her media interviews.

From ingesting her words of wisdom, it followed that a player should know when it’s time to take a breather. A few hours or more of needed break time would allow the muscles a period of rest and repair.

In the meantime, I had revisited two of my posted videos that might help those agonizing about those time-worn, bummer sections that required renewed fuels of relaxed energy.

The first dealt with those dizzying repeated notes in the Domenico Scarlatti Toccata and how to approach them. I used Martha Argerich as my role model, watching her motions as she generated perfectly formed scads of them. It looked like she was sweeping or dusting the keys.

You can be sure after watching the You Tube video following mine, that her arms, wrists, and hands were very relaxed to pull off such an amazing performance!

In my second instruction, I used Burgmuller’s “La Chasse” as a springboard to explore ways of dividing the hands to advance articulation as well as an effective crescendo in an Allegro vivace frame.

After the introductory measures, I examined the repeated broken octaves in staccato and how to play them easily without tiring.

Amidst this whole terrain of practicing passages that require redundant motions with regular infusions of supple wrist-generated energy, I noted my last night’s revisit of Chopin’s Nocturne in F Major, Op. 15, No. 1.

Having already exhausted everyone’s patience obsessing over the “killer” MIDDLE SECTION, I still enlisted it as a potential overuse injury stimulant–that is, if rest and repair breaks were not taken, one’s hands could feel like they were about to fall off.

But before I was completely shut down at my sixth playing, I preserved the first, and uploaded it to You Tube, feeling some progress had been made.

There will be further attempts to unshackle the death-defying mid-section as time permits.




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More piano teaching favorites: Burgmuller’s 25 Progressive Pieces, op. 100

Burgmuller, a German composer living in France during the Romantic era composed these delightful programmatic pieces in order of “progressive” difficulty; I’ve chosen 3 favorites to showcase: “Arabesque,” “La Chasse” (The Chase) and “L’Harmonie des Anges” (Harmony of the Angels)

Arabesque (“beautiful decoration”) is a sprightly, fast paced miniature in “A” minor, that basically utilizes an open hand position. There is just one shift of the thumb under other fingers, in the “A” section. The challenge is to observe punctuated accents and learn to shift the 16th notes from right hand to left hand with as much facility as possible. The piece whizzes by so fast that it’s easy to forget the precise phrasing, articulation of notes, etc. The best approach is always exaggerated slow practicing with attention to detail until the student is able to pace himself at a faster tempo and not lose sight of Burgmuller’s phrase marks, dynamics, accents, etc.

The Chase: This is a hunting song in C Major, with a punctuated chordal Introduction followed by three distinct sections. The “A” section is tricky to master, because the composer has triplet staccato figures over legato, dotted quarter length chord progressions that emulate the hunting horn motif. (harmonic sixth, fifth, third) Hands should be separated in slow motion before playing “up to tempo” is undertaken.

The “B” section is in G Major (the Dominant key) and is less technically challenging as compared to part “A” Once again, slow and steady practicing always helps in the overall learning process.

The “A” section then returns before a distinctly contrasting “C” section begins.
This is a beautifully spun out part of the compositions, with broken chords in the left hand over a gorgeous lyrical minor (sad) melody in the right hand. This is a good opportunity to block the left hand chords alone as a preliminary, and then play the melody over these chords, before the chords are broken as written.

Finally the “A” section returns again with an added Coda concluding the piece.

“Harmony of the Angels” strikes a real contrast to the preceding two pieces from Burgmuller’s collection. It is totally spun out broken chords crossing from hand to hand, and should be seamlessly played if at all possible. A supple wrist, and rotating hands will assist in the communication of a limpidly flowing melodic line.

What a simply heavenly composition this is, and a nice one to conclude with.