CARL CZERNY (1791-1857)
Austrian Pianist and Composer

Who among us does not cringe at the very mention of Carl Czerny? Who has not been bored to distraction for hours at a time playing his mind numbing exercises for the piano? And who has not suffered the pain of forcing his fingers to move faster and faster in myriad ways unintended by nature?

And yet, he was in fact a capable composer, strongly influenced by Beethoven, and his music represents one of the missing links between the classical and romantic pianistic styles. I say missing because his works, like those of many of the major composers of the transition era bridging classicism and romanticism, are virtually unknown today leaving one with an unsettling sense of "... and then there was Beethoven, and suddenly there were Chopin and Schumann and Liszt." as though these musical geniuses somehow appeared, uninfluenced, out of the ether.

Carl Czerny's music, as you will hear, was not of the first rank. It is well crafted music, charming, with occasional touches of brilliance, but harmonically unimginitive and as such sounds dated, while music that was being composed at the same time by Beethoven and Schubert sounds ground-breaking. I find his "Figaro fantasy delightful.  This fantasy and the Op 14 variations are performed below by the brilliant pianists, Cyprien Katsaris and Stephen Hough, respectively. And the Rode Variations are lots of fun, particularly under the hands of a master pianist like Vladimir Horowitz who makes magic with every trill.

I will have to explore more closely, but I suspect his chamber music is perhaps more successful.  Give the Nonet a listen.

Musically, you will hear the influence of Beethoven and many similarities to Schubert. Essentially, his music comes across as unsatisfying, Beethoven and Schubert without the genius, but there are hints of Mendelssohn to come that are delicious. 

Pianistically, as the teacher of Theodor Leschetizky, Stephen Heller, Sigismond Thalberg, and of course, Franz Liszt, Czerny is the ancestor of of all the greater and lesser piano virtuosi of the first half of the 19th century.

It is interesting to note that in the first two piano sonatas, Carl Czerny adds a fifth movement, a fugue, as a look backwards to the roots of classicism. The first Sonata predates Beethoven's use of the Fugue in his piano sonatas but the second was written after Beethoven's Hammerklavier with the magnificent fugue in the final movement. Can it be that Czerny inspired Beethoven's use of this ultimate in contrapuntal textures in the latter's works in sonata form?

Complete Nocturnes
8 Nocturnes, Op 368 - 16 Nocturnes, Op 604 - Nocturne in E major, Op 647

Isabelle Oehmichen, piano

Complete Piano Sonatas

1 in A major, Op 7 (1810) - 36:152 in A minor, Op 13 (1820) - 56:483 in F minor, Op 57 - 1:28:394 in G major, Op 65
5 in E major, Op 76 - 2:28:146 in D minor, Op 124 - 3:19:307 in E minor, Op 143 - 3:45:468 in E major, Op 144
➢ 9 in B minor, Op 145 - 4:54:19 ➢ 10 in B major, Op 268 - 5:24:59 ➢ 11 in D major, Op 730

Daniel Blumenthal (1&2), Anton Kierti (3), and Martin Jones (4-11), pianists

Martin Jones, piano

in A major, Op 167
i Allegro moderato - ii Adagio serioso ed espressivo - iii Scherzo: Vivo - iv Rondo: Allegro non troppo

in G major, Op 251
i Allegro animato - ii Andante, sostenuto e cantabile - iii Scherzo: Allegro vivace e con negligenza - iv Rondo: Allegro vivace

Romance, Op 755 ~13
Martin Jones, piano

Andante and Allegro
i Andante espressivo - ii Molto allegro
Martin Jones, piano

Introduction, Variations brillantes et Rondeau de Chasse, Op 202
Christoph Hammer, piano

Variations on a Theme by Rode "La Ricordanza", Op 33
Vladimir Horowitz, pianist

Variations Brillantes, Op 14
Stephen Hough, piano

Fantaisie Brillante on themes of Mozart's 'Figaro' Op 493

Cyprien Katsaris, piano

Variations on a Favorite Viennese Waltz by Schubert, Op 12

Vadim Chaimovich, piano

I include the following performance by Syuzanna Rudanovskaya, a young Russian pianist who was 11 years old when this recital was taped.  She seems clearly on track to become a serious virtuoso, Russian style. There are a number of videos of this remarkable young woman pianist on YouTube, her recitals over the three years since the one below. I promise you her Rachmaninov is very impressive.

Variations on Themes by Mozart, Schubert, Bellini, Auber, Rode and Haydn
performed by various unidentified pianists

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 214
i Allegro moderato - ii Adagio con moto - iii Rondo: Allegro con anima
Felicja Blumental, piano
Helmut Froschauer conducting the Vienna Chamber Orchestra

Divertissement de Concert, Op 204
Michael Ponti, piano
Paul Angerer, Southwest German Chamber Orchestra Pforzheim

Piano Concerto in C major for four hands, Op 153
i Allegro con brio - ii Adagio espressivo - iii Rondo alla Polacca
Anna & Ines Walachowski, piano
David Porcelijn conducting the Philharmonisches Orchester Altenburg-Gera

Quartet for Piano and Strings in C minor, Op 148
Anton Kuerti, piano with members of the St. Lawrence String Quartet

Piano Trios
2 in A major, Op 166 with Stéphane Lemelin, piano / Erika Raum, violin / Thomas Wiebe, cello
4 in A minor, Op 289 with the Göbel-Trio Berlin

Grand Sonata for Piano and Violin in A major (1807)
Anton Kuerti, piano / Erika Raum, violin

Andante and Polonaise in E major for Horn and Piano
Duo Javier Bonet Miriam Gómez-Morán

Duo Concertante for Flute and Piano, Op 129
Hans-Jörg Wegner, flute of the Cantabile Trio and an unidentified pianist

Fantasia Concertante in G major for Piano, Flute and Cello, Op 256
Chinook Trio

Nonet for English Horn, Clarinet, Bassoon, two Violins, Viola, Cleeo, Double Bass and Piano (1850)
Claudius Tanski, piano with the Consortium Classicum

recorded in 1994

Grande Sérénade Concertante for Clarinet, Horn, Violoncello and Piano Op 126
i Introduzione: Adagio - ii Allegro grazioso - iii Adagio - iv Finale: Allegro vivace con fuoco
Claudius Tanski, piano / Dieter Klöcker, clarinet / Jan Schroeder, horn / Martin Menking, cello

Two romances for piano three hands, Op 111
Alexander Bakhchiev and Elena Sorokina, pianists

Music for Six Hands

For those who have not suffered seemingless agonies at the hands (pun intended) of Carl Czerny, or those who crave further pain, far be it from me to deny you.  Many of his exercises have been now been recorded.  Here is an example.  Knock yourselves out.

The School of Velocity, Op 299

Karen and Howard Pancoast, pianists

For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background

Murder in the House of the Muse

which is also available as an audiobook.

And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:

Murder Follows the Muse

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