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Czerny, Carl (1791-1857)

Carl Czerny

born: 21 February 1791
died: 15 July 1857
country: Austria

Carl Czerny’s reputation has rested mostly on his fame as a composer of pedagogical piano works and the teacher of several important nineteenth-century pianist-composers, including Liszt. Having studied with Beethoven and observed Clementi closely, he provides an important link between the Classical and Romantic groups of composers.

He was a child prodigy, playing the piano at three years of age, composing at seven, and by ten, in his words ‘was able to play clearly and fluently nearly everything by Mozart, Clementi, and the piano composers of the time’. His lessons with Beethoven from 1800 to 1803 introduced him to much of Beethoven’s own music and they remained in close contact. Czerny played the piano part in Beethoven’s Quintet for piano and winds in 1804, and in the ‘Emperor’ Concerto in the first Viennese performance in 1812.

At the age of fifteen, Czerny decided that the life of a concert pianist was not for him and became a teacher instead. He quickly acquired a strong reputation, often teaching from eight until eight each day, and then composing in the evenings. He spent almost all of his life dedicated to the piano and music, never marrying, and replacing his lack of close relatives with cats. There were always between seven and nine of them in his house and he regularly had to seek new homes for their offspring.

His output as a composer includes works in nearly every form, from concertos, chamber music and masses, to solos, symphonies and studies, numbering over one thousand published compositions and many more still in manuscript.

from notes by Andrew Clark


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