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Czerny’s Op 335, The School of Legato and Staccato


The agenda of Czerny’s Op 299 is very narrow: training velocity.  The agenda of his Op 335 is considerably broader: training legato and staccato.  But the great difference between the two collections lies in the means with which Czerny approaches his two agendas.  In Op 299 his means is continuous 16ths and 32nds in either hand, usually the RH.  In Op 335 his means runs from 32nds to breve and music that calls for the full palette of expression, character and dynamics you can get from the piano.   


There’s a useful analogy to be drawn between the studies of Czerny’s Op 335 and the 19th Century cultivation of the piano prelude as a genre, the prelude as, programmatically, a way of “being in a key.”  This is epitomized in Chopin’s Op 24 (a program followed through by Scriabin).  Czerny’s Op 335 studies present, one after the other, ways of being staccato and legato while "in" the different textures, dynamics, characters and sound-scapes of the piano of his time.  It's those different textures etc that make Czerny's Op 335 as interesting to me as Chopin's Op 24.


Czerny presents his Op 335 studies across a wide range of genres and forms--polonaise, nocturne, song without words, praeludium, fugato, march, impromptu... There are studies I think of as “abstractions,” like #13 with its chords robotically trudging up and down the keyboard, and its variation in steely triplets, #14.  Many of the studies feature 4 and 5 voice polyphony (as opposed to counterpoint, which issue I’ll cover in the commentary to the relevant studies).  There are no waltzes...for whatever reason.        


On the other hand there are many quick, tuneful duple-time pieces that I think of as “theater music,” and there are spirited pieces that seem to me to be “in the Italian style,” and noisy pieces that seem to me “sturm und drang,” and singing pieces that seem to me to be "lieder ohne worte" and “bel canto” ...and at this point it’s important for me to make clear to ballet students and my fellow accompanists that I have no expertise that allows me to define what any of that precisely and objectively means.  Czerny’s Op 335 was published in 1835, and what I know (or think I know) about the music of that time comes from learning to play some of it, listening to a great deal of it, and learning about it from recording liner notes and occasional research dives into Wikipedia.  In my commentaries I refer to styles and idioms I can only vaguely define but which I think are familiar to all musicians and music lovers who know European music of the first half of the 19th Century.  I make these references to explain my take on the different studies of Op 335, and why I arranged them the way I did.    


Czerny, like most people who set out to compose music, writes in the styles and idioms of his time.  But Czerny writes memorably in those styles and idioms, and it’s an unforgiving statistical fact that most people who set out to compose music do not write memorably.  When I say that a particularl study of Czerny’s is “Mendelssohnian” or “Rossini-like” I mean that in an obvious way Czerny “sounds like” those composers.  But in a more important sense I mean that he sounds, in those studies, as memorable as those composers.  Czerny supplies a headnote to each study, setting out his legato-staccato agenda.  Those headnotes have no relevance to my arrangements. The only thing relevant to my arrangements is what I personally find memorable in each study.


If you're assembling a repertory of Czerny studies adapted for ballet class use you’ll find plenty to choose from in Op 335, but unless you're going for completeness (as I am) you probably won’t choose everything in Op 335.  Some of the studies have such a loosely structured, fragmentary and improvisatory character they’re not easily adapted to a ballet accompanist’s needs.  On the other hand, you may find, as I did, that setting yourself the challenge of adapting even those seeming intractable studies to ballet class use is a source of education and creative satisfaction.


About my scores:  As will have been noticed in Part 1 (Op 299) there are no tempo, expression or dynamic markings.  You can hear tempo, expression and dynamics in my performances.  But those performances are ad hoc, contingent; my arrangements can be performed at different tempos, with different expressions and dynamics depending on the circumstances in class.

Op 335 1st Series

Studies 1 - 18

(click on title for commentary and scores)

1     Study #1, First Version: moderato 3/4 in placid running 8ths--8 phrases of 8

2     Study #1, Second Version: Austrian landler--8 phrases of 8

3     Study #2, First Version: 4/4 "horn tune" with running 8th-note accompaniment--8 phrases of 8

4     Study #2, Second Version: 4/4 "horn duet" with running 8th-note accompaniment--16 phrases of 8

5     Study #3, Single Version: sharply accented staccato 4/4--16 phrases of 8

6     Study #4, Single Version: flowing broken chords in "praeludium" style--8 phrases of 8

7     Study #5, First Version: 6/8 adagio in 4-part writing--8 phrases of 8

8     Study #5, Second Version: andante siciliano--8 phrases of 8

9     Study #6, First Version: sharp 2/4 with great force at great speed, melody in continuous "acciacatura"--16 phrases of 8

10     Study #6, Second Version: light, sharp 2/4, melody in continuous "acciacatura"--8 phrases of 8

11     Study #6, Third Version: Argentine tango--8 phrases of 8

12     Study #6, Fourth Version: grand battement after Prokofiev--8 phrases of 8

13     Study #6, Fifth Version: little jazz waltz--16 phrases of 8

14     Study #6, Sixth Version: extended Spanish waltz--24 phrases of 8

15     Study #7, First Version: quick 4/4 2-part invention--16 phrases of 8

16     Study #7, Second Version: slow 4/4 2-part invention--16 phrases of 8

17     Study #8, First Version: 4/4 perpetuum mobile--8 phrases of 8

18     Study #8, Second Version: descant tune over 4/4 perpetuum mobile--8 phrases of 8

19     Study #9, First Version: 2/4 andante cantabile--8 phrases of 8

20     Study #9, Second Version: light mazurka--8 phrases of 8

21     Study #9, Third Version: light mazurka with counter melodies--8 phrases of 8

22     Study #10, First Version: quick, sharply accented 2/4--16 phrases of 8

23     Study #10, Second Version: quick, light 6/8--16 phrases of 8

24     Study #11, Single Version: quick march--16 phrases of 8

25     Study #12, First Version: 4/4 con moto 2-part invention--8 phrases of 8

26     Study #12, Second Version: jaunty 3/4 2-part invention--16 phrases of 8

27     Study #13, Single Version: light, sharp 4/4--16 phrases of 8

28     Study #14, Single Version: light, sharp 12/8--16 phrases of 8

29     Study #15, First Version: extended 4/4 adagio--16 phrases of 8

30     Study #15, Second Version: extended 3/4 adagio--16 phrases of 8

31     Study #16, First Version: grand battement "in one count"--4 phrases of 8 

32     Study #16, Second Version: grand battement "in two counts"--4 phrases of 8

33     Study #16, Third Version: grand battement in 3/4--4 phrases of 8

34     Study #17, Single Version: hurried, worried 4/4 song over light repeated 16ths--16 phrases of 8

35     Study #18, First Version: fast 6/8 with running RH sixteenths--16 phrases of 8

36     Study #18, Second Version: extended swirling impromptu in running sextuplets--32 phrases of 8

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