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Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 15: Ballade

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 15 Ballade
This etude, along with Arabesque, is Burgmüller’s assurance of immortality, appearing in countless anthologies over the years. Pay close attention to the dynamics and bring out those famous sforzando A naturals. Also notice that Burgmüller indicates only one ritenudo in the piece (towards the end of the lyrical section), and the time given up here is immediately stolen back by the animato three measures later.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 14: Austrian Dance

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 14 Austrian Dance
This etude takes the form of an up-tempo Viennese waltz. Pay close attention to the articulation markings and also to note values, especially the occasional dotted-half notes in the left hand. Remember that the grace notes are played on the beat (with the left hand note). I use an unorthodox fingering for the grace notes in the second section: 1 on the E, 4 on the F sharp (grace notes), 4 when the E (principal) returns. When it comes to editorial fingerings, I always ask my students to follow them, while keeping in mind that not every fingering will work equally well for every pianist. Check out the middle section – it’s really fun to play!

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 13: Consolation

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 13 Consolation
This beautiful etude is an excercise in legato playing, with a focus on holding the melody note (notice the double stems) through the eighth note that follows. The second section features twin melodies running in parallel sixths paired with an off-beat G. I prefer the tempo a little bit slower than the 152 bpm listed.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 12: The Farewell

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 12 The Farewell
Using the provided fingering makes this piece quite a challenge, but, of course, that’s the point. The weak 4th and 5th fingers are asked again and again to play not only quickly but softly. The lyrical middle section offers a brief respite from the sorrow of the parting, but the anxiety returns in the form of an unexpected F minor chord, heralding the shift back to A minor. In the end, remember that it’s always better to play evenly at a slower tempo. Trading control for speed defeats the purpose of the etude.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 11: The Wagtail

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 11 The Wagtail
This etude is an great example of a inspired composer making the most out of the smallest of devices, in this case a driving rhythmic motive derived from simple broken chords. It’s used in nearly every measure of the piece: up, down, one hand, both hands, converging, diverging, you name it. Of course, I had to count: 65 times in 38 seconds!

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 10: Tender Flower

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 10 Tender Flower
Here’s a real charmer. I take the tempo at 132 bpm, as opposed to the 152 bpm in the Alfred edition. The faster speed sounds too rushed for a tender flower. This is a great etude for working on two note slurs, as well as playing longer, legato lines in both hands. Make sure that the diminuendo and ritenudo sound natural; they’ll help the piece to breath.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 9: The Chase

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 9 The Chase
Use of the proper fingering in the right hand octaves (5,1,2,5,1,2,etc.) while maintaining focus on the left hand as it navigates its various intervals makes this a comparatively difficult piece. The two contrasting sections are much easier; be sure to bring out their mournful quality in contrast to the jaunty gallop of the returning main section. Whatever Burgmüller had in mind, in my interpretation, the fox gets away!

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 8: Gracefulness

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 8 Gracefulness
Bach called this figure a cadence when he included it in the table of ornaments of the Clavier-Büchlein. We know it better as a turn. Burgmüller writes it out for this etude and uses it to great effect. Employ a delicate touch and strive for melodic clarity. Dynamics are important here: keep the first section quiet and understated, and, in the second section, emphasize both crecendos leading to forte.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 7: The Clear Stream

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 7 The Clear Stream
In the first section, the thumb plays the melody, which is immediately echoed by the middle note of the triplet, usually a sixth above. Note that the melody note is both part of the triplet and a quarter note, so it should be held throughout the count. The left hand takes the melody in the second section, with the right hand echoing at a distance of a third. Notice that every triplet in the first section contains a D (except one), and, more obviously, each triplet in the second section has an A.

Burgmuller: Op. 100, no. 6: Progress

Burgmüller Op. 100, no. 6 Progress
There’s several important techniques to practice in Progress: even two-handed scales, alternating legato and staccato passages, and plenty of two note slurs. Note that most of the the slurs in measures 9 through 12 have an accent over the first note, putting the stress on the off-beat.

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