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Carl Czerny

February 21, 1791 - July 15, 1857
composed during the Romantic period
Carl Czerny was born to a musical family. His father was Wenzel Czerny, an oboist, organist, singer, piano teacher, and piano repairman. The family was Czech, and Czech was Carl's first language. Carl's was an early developing talent. He was playing piano when he was three, writing his own music when he was seven, and demonstrated a fine musical memory. Wenzel was part of a kind of co-op of various teachers to instruct each others' children; thus Carl learned literature, violin, Italian, German, and French in exchange for Wenzel teaching the other children piano. At the age of ten his violin teacher, Krumpholz, took him for an interview with Beethoven, who accepted the boy as his pupil.

Czerny gained fame as an interpreter of Beethoven's piano works. In 1816 he started a weekly series of concerts at his home, devoted solely to Beethoven's music. Czerny wrote commentaries on the performance of Beethoven's piano music. These are an extraordinarily valuable and authoritative source for all pianists.

He started teaching at age 15. His two most famous pupils were Sigismund Thalberg and Franz Liszt. Despite teaching at times as many as ten hours a day, he managed to compose an immense amount of music, over 1,000 works. He composed so prolifically that he set up a series of desks in his workroom. Each would hold a composition in the process of composition. Czerny would start with one, fill a pair of pages, then progress to the next new work, write a pair of pages of it, and so forth all around the room. By the time he got back around to the first, the ink on its pages would have had time to dry and he could resume work on it.

He is mainly known for his many sets of studies and exercises for piano. These cover virtually every significant issue of technique and interpretation faced by pianists at all levels. Czerny's studies, especially the "School of Velocity, Op. 299," are known (and dreaded) by piano students to this day. It is the endless repetition of them and the fiendish little traps he sets that turns students against Czerny as a composer.

This is unfortunate. Although he was not a particularly original composer, the better of his many essays in creative composition are more than just technically accomplished. They are often witty, imaginative, and charming in ways that surprise.

He never married: He was so driven by the need to compose constantly that he consciously gave up the idea of marriage, or so he said. After his death, writings were found to show that he had an unrequited love for an unknown woman. In the 1840s he health began failing. His unparalleled productivity earned him a respectable estate; he left the bulk of it, on his death, in a series of well-planned bequests to various charities, including the Vienna Gesselschaft der Musikfreunde, the Monks and Nuns of Charity, and (in an apparent tribute to his teacher Beethoven) an institute for the deaf. ~ Joseph Stevenson, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Carl Czerny: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 3

Disc 1
Title: Piano Sonata No. 10 In B-flat, Op. 268
Title: Rondino No. 6 On An Original Theme "Les Jours Passées" In E-flat, Op. 42
Title: Sonatine In G, For Piano, Op. 261
Title: Gran Capriccio In C Minor, For Piano, Op. 172
Disc 2
Title: Piano Sonata No. 3 In F Minor, Op. 57
Title: Andante & Allegro, For Piano
Title: Romance, For Piano, Op. 755/13
Title: Capriccio À La Fuga, For Piano, Op. 89
Title: Piano Sonata No. 4 In G Major, Op. 65
x

Track List: Karl Czerny: The Art of Finger Dexterity, Op. 740

Title: Die Kunst Der Fingerfertigkeit, For Keyboard, Op. 740

Comments

One is never to old to yearn Italian Proverb
Unrequited
According to the liner notes of a CD of his three horn sonatas on Et Cetera, he never married, but kept three cats.

Many other works have been recorded, including some more of, but not enough of his chamber and piano works, including some for six hands (three pianists on the same bench).
Absolutely amazing!!! How come it took me over 50- years to stumble across this guy? Is he a secret or something???
I'm actually quite fond of Czerny's piano exercises. My mother is a piano teacher and I grew up playing piano under her instruction ... and while I hated to practice, I'd willingly throw myself into my Czerny warm-ups. No idea why.

Beethoven is my favorite, although I would never have guessed a connection between the two. Maybe I should learn more Czerny...
Here's a suggestion: Prelude and Fugue in E Minor by Mendelssohn. I used to play it. It's not too awfully romantic. Although I love Chopin.
There is a piano transcriptio n of the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor going on. Why on earth would one want to hear it on anything but a pipe organ. Or course, much of it is rather catchy on the keyboard, but it just isn't the same.
My piano teacher, Leon Frank, believed in Czerny. So I played plenty of Czerny. Has anyone reading this studied under Leon Frank in Nashville, TN; or Werner Zepernick, Nashville; or Dr.Phil Howard,MTSU, Murfreesboro , TN?
ednbobbie
I can still remember my years as a piano student playing Czerny's piano exercises, but unfortunatel y I never played ANY of his "real" music, which I like very much (but only as an occasional change of pace). I'm very glad you choose to include a little of it from time to time. Thanks a lot. Ed

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