Beethoven: Bagatelle, Op. 119 No. 1

Beethoven's Opus 119 is a collection of shorter works for piano. The Bagatelle is the first of these and displays his knack for placing entire worlds into mere measures. I could probably write a substantial, scholarly paper on just the last ten measures or so, but this post is meant to give you a broader …

Anatomy of a Christmas Carol: We Wish You a Merry Christmas

“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” is a traditional English Christmas carol whose origins are unknown. Regardless of where it came from, it is a short and familiar tune that contains an interesting use of sequences and non-diatonic harmony. Exploring form, melody, and harmony in short, familiar tunes like this one provides an excellent entrance …

Anatomy of a Christmas Carol: Deck the Hall

Deck the Hall is a classic Welsh Christmas carol from the 16th century. From its long-lasting popularity, we can learn how looking at the harmony, melody, and overall structure of a piece contributes to our ability as performers to control more fully how we express emotion and narrative (if there is a story) in a …

Playing Piano in the Style of Mozart

Since the 18th century, Mozart’s music has inspired deep analysis and discussion for both performers and music analysts. I won’t go into too much detail, but if you found this post, you’re interested in how to “correctly” play Mozart’s music on the piano. In this post, I first provide a brief description of the long-discussed …

Twinkling Possibilities: Performance Tips and Theory Tidbits for Mozart’s 12 Variations on ‘Ah vous dirai-je, Maman,’ Part 2

Part 1 Last week we looked at the theme and first six variations of this famous piano piece by Mozart. This week, we’ll pick up right where we left off with brief analyses of what Mozart does to make each variation unique as well as the physical piano techniques required to successfully play each variation. …

Twinkling Possibilities: Performance Tips and Theory Tidbits for Mozart’s 12 Variations on ‘Ah vous dirai-je, Maman,’ Part 1

This post (in two parts) outlines the piano techniques required for success in each variation of Mozart's "Twinkle Twinkle Variations" and provides resources for success in each technique.

Chopin’s Architecture: Phrase Structure in Chopin’s Waltz in B Minor, Op. 69 No. 2 for Composers, Performers, and Listeners

One of the toughest parts of creating anything is figuring out how to start. The biggest issue for me is that there is just so much I want to write about, say, or do in a project that I get overwhelmed and many times end up pushing it off. There’s our answer: limit the scope of …

The Sound of Rain: Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude for Listeners, Performers, and Composers

170 years after his death, Chopin still captivates audiences with his music. His set of preludes that cover all 24 major and minor keys are a great starting place to learn how to analyze his work, as it can be dense. This post looks at the qualities that make us feel the melancholy of the …

Creating Magic: Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1

Claude Debussy's music creates magic wherever it goes. It frequently draws new students to the piano with the desire of playing his most famous pieces like Clair de lune and Arabesque No. 1. This post looks at how Debussy composed this music and what that has to do with being a performer of his music as …

The Power of Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor, Op. 28 No. 4

170 years after his death, Chopin still captivates audiences with his music. His set of preludes that cover all 24 major and minor keys are a great starting place to learn how to analyze his work, as it can be dense. An analysis of the Prelude in E Minor, Op. 28 No. 4 is valuable …