Positioned between Beethoven and Liszt in the golden period, Carl Czerny (1791-1857) played a significant historical role in the area of piano pedagogy. Many pianists are familiar with and have played Czerny’s études, or technical exercises. However, few delve into Czerny’s piano works for performance, including eleven piano sonatas and more than 180 works titled variations. The project at hand examines three of Carl Czerny’s variation works for piano: Opus 33 (on a theme of Rode), Opus 281 (on a theme from Bellini’s Norma, in its solo piano version), and Opus 292 (on an original theme). These works are explored from both compositional and performance perspectives. After a brief biography of Czerny that places his variations into the context of his compositional output, the three variation sets are given analytical description. A chapter on the “Rode Variations” focuses on the technical and musical challenges for the pianist. An important conclusion reached is that these somewhat-neglected works might be attractive to pianists looking to expand their repertoire.
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