Welcome to the first in our series on The Burgmüller Studies. Burgmüller was a wonderful composer who wrote pieces that are accessible to less advanced students, yet offer absolutely wonderful musical content. I always encourage students who have progressed beyond the most basic level to explore these pieces because they are beautiful compositions that can help you further your development as a pianist.
Today we are going to discuss the first piece in this series: La Candeur (or as it translates to English, “Frankness”).
What are the challenges in this piece? You might notice by listening to it that it has a very lyrical, sustained melody. This piece doesn’t require using the pedal but the challenge is getting a smooth line throughout which requires learning to play legato. This is a great skill for any pianist and particularly good for young students just getting into more advanced music. You’ll also want to support the line with the weight of your arms – VIDEO: Arms Equal Power and Depth.
The secret to getting a sustained and beautiful tone is to have the weight of your arms supported by the fingers. You’ll want to transfer the weight from finger to finger to create a long and beautiful legato. You don’t want to apply pressure just at the start of a note but during the entire phrase. If you were to play on someone else’s arm they would feel a constant pressure from the weight of your fingers and arms pressing down, not just at the start of the notes.
If you were to calculate the volume of each note louder and louder to the top of the phrase, then quieter and quieter, you would end up with calculated playing, not a smooth line. Using the weight of your arm – almost as if it were the breath in music – to get louder during the middle of a phrase and softer towards the end of a phrase, you will create a very dramatic and pleasing tone throughout. You want the piano to mimic a wind instrument or a singing voice in it’s tone.
In another part of the piece you have a section which almost sounds like it could be written for two different instruments in the right hand:
On the top you have these half notes:
And on the bottom you have a completely different voice:
It’s important to leave the top (half notes) down while you play the other notes. How can you achieve this? By practicing the long notes legato and the short notes staccato from the fingers. This creates independence of the fingers to assure delineation of the two lines. Without doing this you might end up holding down all the notes or not holding the half notes for their full value – which would be incorrect.
Thanks again for joining me, I look forward to our next lesson on Burgmuller. If you have any comments or questions for this topic or any topic at all please contact me directly: info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729