Czerny, Finger Exercises & Piano Lessons

Carl Czerny was tutored by Beethoven and by age 16 was musically accomplished enough to attract a following of his own students. His performances were considered fluid and brilliant.

As a composer, Czerny turned out a thousand opus numbers (some containing more than fifty pieces, such as Op. 749 – The Art of Finger Dexterity and Op. 299 - School of Velocity), while maintaining ten to twelve hour teaching days. He could work on five or six pieces simultaneously. He wrote in many forms, but is renowned for his etudes, which have been the foundation of piano technique lessons for generations of students. Czerny wrote literally thousands of technical studies for piano, all different. Indeed, he developed the world’s first piano pedagogy.

Czerny created his original method of piano practice, incorporating many didactic piano pieces named "Etudes", which he wrote for piano practice of his students. His method is focused on piano fingering dexterity and velocity, as well as on the sound control and expressiveness.

In addition to his etudes, Czerny composed no fewer than 304 sets of variations and potpourris, based on 87 operas of the time. These works were highly popular all over the world. According to Loesser, “His talent was extraordinary. Within the limits of a narrow harmonic scheme, he developed a prodigious understanding of the motion shapes feasible to keyboard-traveling fingers. Rapid, feathery, well-articulated pianistic passagework, chiefly for the right hand, bouncing, leather-covered little hammer-heads of the Vienna pianos could deliver best, always smooth and pretty and rather ear-tickling when played fast.”

He was well-known for his superb teaching methods, and tutored Franz Listz and Sigismond Thalberg, among others. “His manner of teaching,” Leschetizky related, “Indicated the different shades of tempo and coloring. He insisted principally on accuracy, brilliancy and pianistic effects. Czerny taught that Beethoven should be rendered with freedom of delivery and depth of feeling. A pedantic, inelastic interpretation of the master made him wild. He felt that Chopin’s compositions were sweetish. He understood Mendelssohn.”

When practicing Czerny, One should work on developing the hand and general playing mechanism for strength, stamina, and perhaps most importantly, control.