BEETHOVEN 200 YEARS AGO: Thursday, September 12, 1822

Today is an important day for students of piano, as we see Cappi & Diabelli advertise in the Wiener Zeitung at page 840 one of the earliest of Carl Czerny’s instructional releases, Die Kunst des Fingersatzes (The Art of Fingering). This was not like his later pedagogical sets of exercises such as The School of Velocity or The Art of Finger Dexterity, but was rather a series of his editions of older classical works. Carl Czerny was of course one of Beethoven’s few composition students.

Diabelli’s advertisement outlines the plan for the series thusly: “The work published under this title is highly instructive to every pianist who wants to perfect himself in this most important part of playing. This is accomplished both through the choice of the classical compositions of the greatest masters of all times included in it and through the careful designation of the most well thought-out and interesting fingerings. This series will continue without interruption, and will gradually grow into a repertory of the best keyboard works, and will thereby form a kind of practical school that has never yet been seen. It will be available to teachers and students of the fortepiano alike, and is guaranteed to be agreeable. Each group of 6 volumes will always contain an original work by Mr. Carl Czerny, who is a renowned figure both as a teacher and as a composer, specially composed for this purpose. Thus the most modern brilliant compositions will alternate with older works of the strict style of composition.”

Eventually 24 volumes would appear in this series put out by Diabelli. The first group of six works in Czerny’s edition advertised here include some notable titles: Czerny’s own Rondo quasi capriccio for piano op.26 in E-flat (again, specially composed for this series), Beethoven’s Sonata Pathètique op.13 (1798), and the first publication of a hitherto unknown Fugue in A minor by J.S. Bach [from about 1707-1713, today catalogued as BWV 944], all with Czerny’s fingerings, plus tempo markings added to the Bach. Other works in the first grouping included Muzio Clementi’s Toccata for piano in B-flat [op.11/2 (1783)], Jan Ladislav Dussek’s La Consolation, Andante in B-flat [op.62], and Johann Baptist Cramer’s Toccatina in A-flat [from Dulce et utile, op.55/6 (1815)].

Petra Somlai here plays Beethoven’s Sonata Pathètique on a copy of a 1795 fortepiano: