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Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 25: The Knight Errant

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 25 The Knight Errant
So, here we are at the end of the journey. All of Burgmüller’s familiar techniques are on display (and if you’ve been practicing you’ll find no problems here). Something that I haven’t talked about very much is the programatic quality of the pieces of Op. 100. Burgmüller obviously intended to tell a story, or, at the very least, to share an emotion. It’s not possible to know exactly what he had in mind, but I find it very helpful to create a storyline when learning (and especially memorizing) these etudes. In more general terms, when performing these pieces, or any others, always tell your own story, share your own emotions, and you’ll give your listeners a wonderful gift. Sláinte!

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 24: The Swallow

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 24 The Swallow
This etude focuses on the technique of hand crossing. At a higher tempo it also becomes a study in economy of motion. The swallow is known for its ability to catch insects while in flight, due to its speed and great maneuverability. Keep your movements precise and begin the crossing (in both directions) the instant that your left hand is free.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 23: The Return

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 23 The Return
Bring out the melody, wherever it appears. It’s easier in the second section, when the left hand is playing single notes, and more challenging when it’s in the upper note of the right hand. Keep your wrists relaxed when practicing the relentless staccato chords and do your best to keep the volume down. Notice that in measure 9, when the staccato chords begin, the dynamic is pianissimo, but when the theme returns in measure 25 the first chord is marked sforzando, immediately dropping to pianissimo again.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 22: Barcarolle

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 22 Barcarolle
Burgmüller had a talent for writing music that falls easily into the fingers, but I admit that I struggled a bit to memorize this etude. I took liberty with the introduction by adding pedal, with the goal of heightening the contrast when the legato melody arrives against the detached left hand chordal accompaniment. Be careful not to rush; keep the tempo nice and relaxed.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 21: Angels' Voices

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 21 Angels' Voices
This beautiful etude is a straightforward arpeggio excercise, as well as a great way to practice proper pedal technique. Strive for an even harp-like sound and don’t let things get muddy. The tempo can be increased once the chord changes are worked out.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 20: Tarantelle

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 20 Tarantelle
Another of Burgmüller’s greatest hits, Tarantelle is a driving rhythmic dance in duple time. Note that only the left hand chords in the D major middle section should be played staccato. Also, use the fingering of 3-2, 3-2, 3-2, etc. during the ascending line with grace notes.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 19: Ave Maria

This etude really took me back to my roots. In high school, I accompanied the Chorale and played through many four part vocal reductions. I also spent some time as a church organist. This piece is very simple, but so beautiful. Do your best to balance the chords, while carefully listening for the individual voices as they rise and fall. When certain voices are static within the chord, bring out the moving voice.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 18: Inquietude

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 18 Inquietude
Before I got a decent take, I thought I might have to rename this one “Ineptitude.” Notice that in the second section an interesting illusion takes place: from measure five through eight, it often sounds as if I’m only playing two notes in the right hand. I definately am, it’s just that the lower of the three gets swallowed by the left hand chord. The rhythmic device used throughout this etude (one hand entering continually on the off-beat) is a favorite of Burgmüller’s. It also plays a prominent role in The Clear Stream (no. 7), The Chase (no. 9), and Ballade (no. 15).

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 17: The Chatterbox

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 17 The Chatterbox
This etude emphasizes the practice of alternating fingers when playing repeated notes. Just like the talkative person who can’t stay quiet, those repeated notes never let up. I certainly improved this particular technique since I started working on this piece! Burgmüller once again shows how well his musical imagination could transcend the didactic nature of an excercise.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 16: Sorrow

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 16 Sorrow
The Alfred edition mentions that the use of the pedal is optional; I decided against it as I didn’t want to blur the contrast between the busy left hand and the melody in the right hand. Be sure to observe the crescendo during the alternating chords that start off the second section.

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