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Carl Czerny was born in Vienna on February 20, 1791. After early instruc-tion by his pianist father, he appeared in public as a child prodigy in 1800. Subse-quently he became a stu-dent of Beethoven and by the age of 15, he had estab-lished himself as a respected piano teacher. Among his
artist pupils were Theodor Dohler, Sigismond Thalberg, Theodor Kullak, Alfred Jaell and Franz Liszt. His nonetude works comprise over 300 graduals and offertories, as well as symphonies, masses, writings in music history and theoretical treatises; his opus numbers are near the one-thousand figure. Czerny's one planned international concert tour was cancelled because of the Napoleonic Wars. He died in
Vienna on July 15, 1857.
Czerny was the most prolific of all etude writers. His piano compositions cover every imaginable aspect of technical problems at all levels of playing. His eludes are consistent and focused on their technical content. Czerny obviously believed in many hours of practice with much repetition, for he wrote: "Practice is the great Magician, who not only makes apparent impossibilities performable, but ever easy."
Czerny's talent was remarkable: within a narrow harmonic scheme he developed a prodigious understanding of finger movements possible on the keyboard. He composed many volumes of studies that feature rapid, feathery, well-articulat-ed passages, mainly for the right hand. His style was smooth, pretty and ear-tickling when played fast; he was very popular during his lifetime.
Czerny taught piano for 10-12 hours a day; his genius for aching was so cultivated that he could quickly devise the correct study for a student who exhibited any particular area f weakness. His performances were considered fluid and brilliant and he gave the Vienna premiere of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor") in 1811.
Op. 139 begins with an easy level of pieces and gradually increases to a moderately difficult level. Some of the techni-cal devices in these pieces include: right-hand melody with left-hand accompaniment; solid and broken moving diatonic thirds and sixths; diatonic and chromatic scalar and arpeggio figurations; syncopated melodies; trills, ornaments and turns; triplets; quickly moving inner voices with static out-side voices; two notes against three; repeated notes; cadenza passages; chromatic thirds. The pedal is indicated for one study (no. 72).
Many of the studies can be transposed into other keys and practiced at varied tempos. This opus provides much of the foundation for helping develop facility to play the basic piano repertoire.
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