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Beyond The Art of Finger Dexterity

Beyond The Art of Finger Dexterity: Reassessing Carl Czerny

Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 298
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    Beyond The Art of Finger Dexterity
    Book Description:

    Within the history of European music, Carl Czerny (1791-1857) is simultaneously all too familiar and virtually invisible. During his lifetime, he was a highly successful composer of popular piano music, and his pedagogical works remain fundamental to the training of pianists. But Czerny's reputation in these areas has obscured the remarkable breadth of his activity, and especially his work as a composer of serious music, which recent performances and recordings have shown to hold real musical interest. Beyond "The Art of Finger Dexterity" explores Czerny's multifaceted career and its legacy and provides the first broad assessment of his work as a composer. Prominent North American and European musicians and scholars explore topics including Czerny's life and its context; his autobiographical writings and efforts to promote his teacher, Beethoven; his activity as a pedagogue, both as teacher of Liszt and as the authority held up to innumerable amateur women pianists; his role in shaping performance traditions of classical music; the development of his image during and after his lifetime; and his work in genres including the Mass, the symphony, the string quartet, and the piano fantasy. This is the first English-language book on Czerny, and the broadest survey of his activity in any language. Contributors: George Barth, Otto Biba, Attilio Bottegal, Deanna C. Davis, James Deaville, Ingrid Fuchs, David Gramit, Alice M. Hanson, Anton Kuerti, Marie Sumner Lott, James Parakilas, Michael Saffle, Franz A. J. Szabo, Douglas Townsend, and John Wiebe.BR> David Gramit (University of Alberta) is the author of Cultivating Music: The Aspirations, Interests, and Limits of German Musical Culture, 1770-1848.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-717-9
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Franz A. J. Szabo

    The international symposium at which some of the chapters in this volume were first vetted was part of a major musical festival mounted by what was then the Canadian Centre for Austrian and Central European Studies, and is now the Wirth Institute Centre for Austrian and Central European Studies of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Presented in seven concerts over four days in June 2002, the event was the first major music festival devoted entirely to the nineteenth-century Austrian composer and teacher, Carl Czerny (1791–1857). Our Institute’s project was undertaken in conjunction with the Society of the...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    David Gramit
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)
    David Gramit

    Carl Dahlhaus’s brief mention may seem a singularly inauspicious way to begin a volume of essays devoted to Czerny. And yet, his choice of Carl Czerny to lead off a self-evidently preposterous approach to the history of nineteenth-century music neatly reveals Czerny’s paradoxical situation in the received history of European music. Dahlhaus’s strategy is clear enough: in order to demonstrate the rhetorical practices implicit in music-historical narrative, he places an icon of insignificance in the rhetorically crucial opening position of an imagined history. Just to make certain that there would be no mistaking this strategy, he preceded his turn to...

  7. Chapter One Carl Czerny and Post–Classicism
    (pp. 11-22)
    Otto Biba

    “What would have happened, if . . .” is not a question that meets scholarly standards. But nevertheless, permit me to begin this scholarly contribution with the following question: What would have happened if Schubert had completed the symphony he drafted in October and November of 1828—in other words, immediately before his death? Even more: what if it had then immediately become musical common property? How would the history of music in the nineteenth century have progressed?

    Pointless questions. Schubert did not complete this symphony, whose drafts anticipate almost everything of importance in the development of nineteenthcentury music up...

  8. Chapter Two Czerny’s Vienna
    (pp. 23-33)
    Alice M. Hanson

    Most of what we know about Carl Czerny’s life comes from his memoirs (1842).¹ Written in retrospect when he was a retired but well-known music teacher and composer, the recollections function more as a bildungsroman (biographical novel) than as a real history. They focus on those who shaped his education, his career, and his teaching methods. As a Viennese insider he regularly drops names of the famous personalities he knew, especially Beethoven and Liszt. He also deems himself qualified to evaluate certain eras as “golden ages” and to label critical style changes in Beethoven’s music. That his writing says so...

  9. Chapter Three Carl Czerny’s Recollections: An Overview and an Edition of Two Unpublished Autograph Sources
    (pp. 34-51)
    Attilio Bottegal

    Carl Czerny’sErinnerungen aus meinem Lebenhas long been familiar, both from its use by authors memorializing Beethoven and as the principal source of information on Czerny’s own life. It has appeared in modern editions in both English and German.¹ In accordance with a relatively widespread custom of his age, however, Czerny also left a variety of other testimonies to posterity. In what follows, I trace these seven other accounts in an attempt to clarify their status and interrelationship. After this chronological overview and some reflections on what the memoirs reveal (and conceal) about Czerny, the two previously unpublished autobiographical...

  10. Chapter Four A Star Is Born? Czerny, Liszt, and the Pedagogy of Virtuosity
    (pp. 52-66)
    James Deaville

    The discourse of musical virtuosity has attracted a good deal of attention in the past decade.¹ Even monographs about nineteenth-century music that are not ostensibly about virtuosity prominently invoke it, as Lawrence Kramer did in the cover to his recent bookMusical Meaning.² Although each study takes a different approach in exploring the topic (for example, linguistic for Susan Bernstein, philosophical for Jane O’Dea, visual for Richard Leppert, and personal for Mark Mitchell), all authors seem to agree that virtuosity has been undervalued in scholarship. It is nevertheless surprising to discover that scholars have failed to look at a fundamental...

  11. Chapter Five The Veil of Fiction: Pedagogy and Rhetorical Strategies in Carl Czerny’s Letters on the Art of Playing the Pianoforte
    (pp. 67-81)
    Deanna C. Davis

    Perhaps because it is occurring at a time in which the general prospects for classical music seem at best uncertain, the rediscovery of Carl Czerny as a significant and long-neglected composer of serious music understandably generates great enthusiasm among his advocates. It is equally understandable that such enthusiasm may seek to minimize those aspects of Czerny’s multifaceted career that have led to skepticism about his ability to produce music of such a high caliber. And no aspect of that career is better known—or more of a potential liability—than Czerny’s role as a pedagogue for amateurs, as the creator...

  12. Chapter Six Carl Czerny: Beethoven’s Ambassador Posthumous
    (pp. 82-107)
    Ingrid Fuchs

    It is the year 1870—Beethoven’s hundredth birthday is being celebrated not only in countless events but also with many publications. In the annual report of the conservatory of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien, the archivist of the society, the Beethoven researcher Carl Ferdinand Pohl, devotes an extensive article to the composer.¹ In it, after an enthusiastic introductory homage to Beethoven, he places a previously unknown manuscript from the archives at the center of his comments: the 1842 “Reminiscences” of Carl Czerny, who as a contemporary, pupil and friend of the composer here becomes a kind of intermediary between...

  13. Chapter Seven Playing Beethoven His Way: Czerny and the Canonization of Performance Practice
    (pp. 108-124)
    James Parakilas

    Carl Czerny has never been much of a hero to the historical performance movement.¹ The musicians who are credited with starting that movement—Thibaut and Mendelssohn, Choron and Niedermeyer, Fétis and Moscheles—belong more or less to his generation, but his name is hardly ever mentioned in the same breath as theirs.² It deserves to be. For one thing, his editions of Scarlatti sonatas and Bach’sWell-Tempered Clavierwere among the monuments of nineteenth-century early music publication, reprinted and recommended well into the twentieth century, even though his editorial methods were under attack already in his lifetime. Schumann, who somewhat...

  14. Chapter Eight Carl Czerny and Musical Authority: Locating the “Primary Vessel” of the Musical Tradition
    (pp. 125-138)
    George Barth

    Anyone attempting to take seriously Carl Czerny’s guidelines for musical performance must come to terms not only with what give every appearance of being definitive principles, but also with Czerny’s own apparent contradictions of some of those principles. Although, as we will see, there is no denying a degree of inconsistency in Czerny’s work—perhaps inevitable in so productive a career—a closer examination of one such case reveals considerable subtlety. Czerny’s apparent inconsistency, I will argue, is in fact evidence of a sophisticated concept of the musical work in performance.¹

    The principle in question is one of Czerny’s most...

  15. Chapter Nine Carl Czerny, Composer
    (pp. 139-144)
    Anton Kuerti

    Carl Czerny (1791–1857) occupies a pivotal niche in music history, linking Beethoven—his teacher, and the ultimate archetype of profoundly spiritual music—with Liszt, Czerny’s student, who exemplifies the ultraromantic and often exhibitionistic virtuoso. Squashed between two of the most heroic, colorful, and influential personalities in the history of music, each of whom is adulated and imitated to this day, Czerny, quite in contrast, led a very modest, uneventful, and withdrawn life, and his name remains known mostly for his technical studies and etudes. Unbelievably numerous as these are, they still represent only a modest portion of his life...

  16. Chapter Ten Carl Czerny’s Mass No. 2 in C Major: Church Music and the Biedermeier Spirit
    (pp. 145-158)
    John Wiebe

    In a February 1844Allgemeine Wiener Musik-Zeitungreview of Carl Czerny’s Offertory, Op. 737, the writer refers to the “inspired writing,” “beautiful cantabile,” and “equally effective accompaniment” found in the music.¹ The article goes on to praise the religious effect and general suitability of the writing style and further suggests that the greatness and respect accorded to Hummel, Mozart, and Beethoven also be accorded Czerny. Given Czerny’s singular reputation as a writer of keyboard exercises, it is unlikely that musicians today would place him amid such a pantheon of composers, particularly in the realm of sacred music. Indeed, Czerny’s association...

  17. Chapter Eleven Carl Czerny’s Orchestral Music: A Preliminary Study
    (pp. 159-178)
    Douglas Townsend

    Carl Czerny was born just six years before Schubert, and, like that composer, as a student he was exposed to and very much influenced by the music of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. In his “Recollections from My Life” (1842),¹ he makes it clear that while he never met Mozart, he became familiar with many of his compositions while a frequent guest at the musicales given by Constanze, Mozart’s widow. There many of her late husband’s works were performed, including Mozart’s piano and violin sonatas, and some of his chamber music. Czerny also became friendly with Mozart’s son, Franz Xaver Mozart,...

  18. Chapter Twelve Not Just a Dry Academic: Czerny’s String Quartets in E and D Minor
    (pp. 179-201)
    Marie Sumner Lott

    The above characterization of Carl Czerny as a failed Romantic first appeared buried in a footnote of Walter Georgii’s 1914 dissertationKarl Maria von Weber als Klavierkomponist. William Newman elevated the passing observation to a text-heading epithet inThe Sonata Since Beethoven(1969), in which he memorably describes Czerny as one of three “Direct Beethoven Transmitters.”¹ With his more than 800 published works (including books of exercises), multitudinous performing editions of classical works, and performance and composition treatises, Czerny represents, perhaps, the clearest example of early to mid-nineteenth-century academicism in music. Czerny was not alone, though, in his interest in...

  19. Chapter Thirteen Czerny and the Keyboard Fantasy: Traditions, Innovations, Legacy
    (pp. 202-228)
    Michael Saffle

    By the time Carl Czerny achieved artistic maturity—say, by 1820, as he was born in 1791 and began composing in 1806, at the age of fifteen—keyboard fantasies of several kinds had flourished for more than a century. Czerny himself was responsible both for consolidating and for partially transforming the nineteenth century’s attitudes toward fantasizing at the piano. In addition to producing fantasies of his own and teaching others how to improvise them, Czerny passed to Franz Liszt a legacy that powerfully influenced the potpourris and operatic paraphrases of Liszt and his contemporaries, as well as characteristic aspects of...

  20. Chapter Fourteen The Fall and Rise of “Considerable Talent”: Carl Czerny and the Dynamics of Musical Reputation
    (pp. 229-244)
    David Gramit

    According to the 2001 edition ofBaker’s Biographical Dictionary, Czerny was “a composer of considerable talent.”¹ Although, as we will see below, this evaluation represents a considerable rise in Czerny’s fortunes, it nonetheless comes off as far from an unconditional affirmation or a battle cry calculated to fuel the composer’s further revival. Indeed, it leaves a great deal unclear: is it the product of studied and even-handed evaluation or an expression of surprise, or even damningly faint praise? If, in the famous words of Pierre Bourdieu, “taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier,” what are the stakes of this remarkably...

  21. Appendix: Musical Autographs by Carl Czerny in the Archiv der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien: A Checklist
    (pp. 245-262)
    Otto Biba
  22. List of Contributors
    (pp. 263-268)
  23. Index of Names
    (pp. 269-274)
  24. Index of Works
    (pp. 275-280)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 281-285)