Letters to a Young Lady (Czerny)/Letter 10

Letters to a Young Lady
by Carl Czerny, translated by James Alexander Hamilton

LETTER X.

ON EXTEMPORANEOUS PERFORMANCE.

Dear Miss Cecilia,

You are aware that music is in some measure a species of language, by which may be expressed those passions and feelings with which the mind is burthened or affected.

It is also known to you that we are able to play on any musical instrument, and more particularly on the pianoforte, much which has neither been written down before, nor previously prepared or studied, but which is merely the fruit of a momentary and accidental inspiration. This is called extemporizing.

Such extemporaneous performances cannot naturally, and indeed ought not to assume the strict forms of written compositions; nay, the very freedom and inartificial nature of such productions gives them a peculiar charm; and many celebrated masters, such as Beethoven and Hummel, have particularly distinguished themselves in this art.

Although, for this purpose, and indeed for music in general, a certain share of natural talent is required, still extemporizing may be studied and practised according to certain principles; and I am convinced that any body, who has attained to more than a moderate skill in playing, is also capable, at least to a certain degree, of acquiring the art of playing extemporaneously. But for this purpose it is requisite to commence this sort of practice at an early period (which, alas! most players neglect); and that we should learn to indefatigably apply the experience which we have gained by studying the compositions of others, to our own extemporaneous performances.

At present, as your execution is so considerably formed, and as you are beginning to make a progress in thorough-bass, you should attempt, sometimes when alone, sometimes in the presence of your teacher, to connect together easy chords, short melodies, passages, scales, arpeggioed chords; or, which is much better, leave it to your fingers to effect this connection, according to their will and pleasure. For extemporizing possesses this singular and puzzling property, that reflection and attention are of scarcely any service in the matter. We must leave nearly every thing to the fingers and to chance.

At first, this will appear difficult to you; what you play will seem unconnected, or even incorrect; you will lose that courage and confidence in yourself which are so necessary to this purpose. But if you do not allow yourself to be frightened by this, and will repeat these attempts day after day, you will perceive that your powers will become more developed from week to week; and, with a more extended knowledge of thorough-bass, you will soon learn also to avoid faults against harmony.

At first, you must attempt to extemporize only short movements, somewhat similar to preludes or cadences. By degrees you must endeavour to extend these, by interweaving longer melodies, brilliant passages, arpeggioed chords, &c. If, in default of ideas of your own readily offering themselves, you should avail yourself of such as you have learned from other compositions, such assistance is always very excusable.

The scale-passages, and the chords of transition which connect them, are a good means of filling up any little chasm, when no melodious ideas happen to strike the player.

You know that all music may be reduced to simple chords. Just so, simple chords conversely serve as the ground-work on which to invent and play all sorts of melodies, passages, skips, embellishments, &c.

When you have devoted a considerable time to a rational practice in the way here pointed out, you will feel astonished at the great improvement, and the variety of applications of which the talent for extemporizing is capable.

You will find that nearly all the forms usual in composition are applicable to extempore-playing. Thus:

We may extemporize variations on themes chosen by ourselves or given for the purpose.

We may put together very interesting potpourris or fantasias from favorite motivos, combining them with brilliant passages, so as to form a striking ensemble.

We may also distinguish ourselves by extemporizing in strict four-part composition, or in the fugue style, &c. &c.

But for all this is required:

Great and highly cultivated facility and rapidity of finger, as well as a perfect command of all the keys, and of every mechanical difficulty. For you may easily imagine, Miss, that the happiest talent avails nothing, when the fingers are incapable of following and obeying its dictates. Besides this, it also requires an intimate acquaintance with the compositions of all the great composers; for only by this means can one’s own talent be awakened, cultivated, and strengthened, so as to enable us to produce music of our own invention.

To this, as you know, must be added a thorough practical knowledge of harmony; and, lastly,—as I repeat once more,—our own indefatigable and rationally applied industry.

Therefore, dear Miss, exercise yourself cheerfully and courageously in this very honorable branch of the art. If the labour is great, the pleasure and reward which you may gain thereby are still greater.

And now, Miss Cecilia, I announce to you, to your terror, that I shall very shortly be in your neighbourhood, that I shall visit you, and, with an awful, judge-like mien, convince myself in person of your diligence. That you will be greatly alarmed at this, I take to be a matter of course.

I now close the correspondence with which I have so long tormented you, and look with satisfaction towards the moment in which I shall be enabled in person to admire the unquestionably perfect cultivation of your very distinguished talent.

Accept also, for the last time, the written assurance of my unfeigned devotion.

Yours, &c.

FINIS.


PRINTED BY J. MALLETT, WARDOUR STREET, SOHO, LONDON.

NEW MUSIC BY C. CHAULIEU,
PUBLISHED BY
R. COCKS AND CO.
20, PRINCES STREET, HANOVER SQUARE, LONDON.


FIRST SIX MONTHS AT THE PIANOFORTE,

Six books, each

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Mr. Chaulieu’s First Six Months at the Pianoforte is a work which, from its singular merit and immense practical utility, cannot by any possibility fail to become more popular among us than any other elementary work that has ever appeared. To those who have not yet had an opportunity of inspecting this masterly work, some account of its plan, and an abstract of its contents, may not be thought uninteresting.

PLAN.

Each Month is divided into Four Parts; of these, Parts 1, 2, 3, are entitled Studies, and Part 4, Recreations. Each Month is devoted chiefly, though not exclusively, to one particular key.

First Month (key of C).

Part 1 contains numerous five-finger Exercises, easy Lessons on Chords—entitled Harmonic Studies,—Short Scales, Examples on Extensions, &c.

Part 2, Lessons on one position of the hands, for the gradual acquirement of Time, and a knowledge of the relative duration of the Notes, Rests, &c.

Part 3, Scales in various intervals, and numerous miscellaneous Exercises for both hands.

Part 4, Recreations, containing pleasing Airs, with one or more Preludes to each.

Second Month (key of G).

The arrangement is similar to that in the first month, but the Exercises are somewhat more difficult.

Third Month (key of F).

The arrangement is again similar to that observed in the previous months, the Exercises becoming gradually more and more difficult and diversified.

Fourth Month (key of D).

Still the same arrangement as before, but with greater diversification and increased difficulty in the Examples. Here we have Lessons on Double Notes, on Thirds, on Rhythm, on Counting and Beating Time, on Triplets, explanations of the Turn, the Da Capo, the Pause, Accents, &c. and nine short and brilliant Preludes in the Keys of D and A.

Fifth Month (chiefly in the key of C).

Same arrangement. This month contains chromatic Scales and Passages, various useful forms of Arpeggio, Extensions, Rhythmic Exercises, Harmonic Studies, Seventeen brilliant Preludes in the Keys of F, B flat, E flat, &c. and a valuable and pleasing Study on Punctuation and Expression.

Sixth Month (chiefly in C).

Here, under the same arrangement, we meet with numerous important Exercises, both diatonic and chromatic, founded on the Scale, as also Lessons on Triplets, and on Sixths and Octaves struck simultaneously. A complete explanation of the Shake and the Appoggiatura. Rhythmic Exercises, Examples on the Scherzando or Leggiero. A general mode of simplifying Chords to suit small hands, and, lastly, an Enharmonic Exercise.

Such is the plan of this truly admirable work; and the execution is so novel and ingenious, that it is in the highest degree masterly. Indeed, I have no hesitation in saying that, for the tuition of children on the Pianoforte, no work of equal merit and utility has ever come before the public. For Class or School-teaching it will be found absolutely invaluable; and country teachers, and persons who have not had long experience in tuition, will, by its aid, be enabled to guide their pupils into a short and pleasant path, along which their progress towards excellence will be rapid and certain, and which will assuredly redound equally to their profit and their reputation.

J. Hamilton, Author of the Musical Catechisms.


A List of M. Chaulieu’s other Elementary Music,
ALSO PUBLISHED BY R. COCKS AND CO.


NEW MUSICAL ALPHABET

Adapted to the capacity of children from four years of age.
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The above very ingenious little work contains One Hundred Exercises in one position of the hand, and is adapted to precede any book of instruction.

CATECHISM OF MUSIC,

Dedicated to Mothers of Families.
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This work contains a singular, brief, and lucid Exposition of the principles of Musical Notation, by question and answer, comprised in twelve short and easy Lessons, remarkable for their simplicity and natural arrangement of ideas.

ANALYTICAL COURSE OF THE THEORY OF MUSIC,

With Atlas of Mnemonic Tables, and Glossary of 400 Italian Musical Terms, with their significations.
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THE INDISPENSABLE.

Manual for young Performers on the Pianoforte, or Exercises for every day; containing diatonic and chromatic Scales, Shakes, Exercises for equalizing the fingers, Thirds, Octaves, and twenty-four little Preludes, in which are introduced all the Signs and Terms employed in Music, Op. 100.
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This work contains Exercises for equalizing the power of the fingers, and laying a sure foundation for pure and brilliant Execution. The arrangement is novel and happy; a page is appropriated to each day of the month, containing Scales for both hands, Passages for the five fingers, Shakes, and a short and brilliant Prelude, and occasionally Exercises on Double Notes, in Thirds, Sixths, and Octaves, on Chords, and an explanation of the use of the Metronome for beginners.

Supplement to ditto
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STUDIES.

Preparatory Studies
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Special Studies
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100
Octave Exercise
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Harmonic Studies
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Eighteen Preludes
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ELEMENTARY WORKS
PRINTED AND SOLD BY
R. COCKS AND CO.


HAMILTON’S MUSICAL CATECHISMS.
Miniature Course of Harmony and Composition,
In cloth boards.

1. On the Rudiments of Harmony and Thorough Bass, third edition, containing 103 pages
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This is an extremely concise and clear development of the principles of harmony. The form of question and answer, in which it is written, peculiarly fits it for the use of juvenile learners, by whom it will be found a valuable assistant in the now favourite study of musical composition.—Court Journal, No. 262.

Key to the Thorough Bass Exercises in ditto, for the use of Teachers and for Self-tuition
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2. Catechism on Counterpoint, Melody, and Composition, containing 107 pages
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3. Catechism on Double Counterpoint and Fugue, containing 81 pages
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4. Catechism on the Art of Writing for an Orchestra and of Playing from a Score, containing 104 pages
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Historical, Descriptive, and Practical Catechism of the Organ, with Examples, containing 90 pages
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A complete school for this noble instrument.

Practical Catechism on Singing, containing 108 pages
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20
A Catechism for the Violin, 72 pages
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10
A Catechism for the Violoncello, 68 pages
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10
A New Theoretical and Practical Musical Grammar, adapted to the present state of the Science, containing 278 pages
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40
A new Dictionary of 1000 Musical Terms, with their significations; such as they occur in the works of Albrechtsberger, Beethoven, Bellini, Berbiguier, Cramer, Czerny, Chaulieu, Campagnoli, Diabelli, Drouet, Herz, Hummel, Hünten, Kuhlau, Mayseder, Ghys, Mercadante, Moscheles, Onslow, Pacini, Rink, Reicha, Rossini, Spohr, Tulou, Weber, &c. 2nd edit.
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10

The utility of this little publication is sufficiently expressed by its title. The explanation of the technical terms employed by the best composers, and which the prevailing taste for foreign music renders so peculiarly desirable, is an advantage which this collection possesses over every other of its kind.—Vide Court Journal.

And Second Edition of hi? Art of Tuning Pianofortes
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10

BY VARIOUS AUTHORS.

Clarke’s Catechism of the Rudiments of Music, designed for the assistance of Teachers of the Pianoforte, 3d. ed.
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10
Chaulieu’s Musical Catechism, dedicated to Mothers of Families
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30
Chaulieu’s— — — Musical Alphabet
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20
Chaulieu’s— — — First Six Months at the Pianoforte, 6 books, each
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30

So excellent is the plan of this truly admirable work, and the execution so novel and ingenious, that it is in the highest degree masterly. Indeed I have no hesitation in saying that, for the tuition of children on the pianoforte, no work of equal merit and utility has ever come before the public; and, for class or school teaching, it will be found absolutely invaluable; and country teachers, and persons who have not had long experience in tuition, will by its aid be enabled to guide their pupils into a short and pleasant path, along which their progress towards perfection will be rapid and certain, and which will assuredly redound equally to their profit and their reputation.—J. Hamilton, Author of the ‘Musical Catechisms.’

Forde’s Principles of Singing, 10th edition
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20
Forde’s— — — Art of Singing at Sight
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20
Forde’s— — — Essay on the Key in Music
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30

These three little works are remarkable for their originality and practical utility.

James’s Flutist’s Catechism, in which are explained the First Principles of Music, intended for the Flute Player before he has recourse to an Instruction Book, 2nd edition
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10
James’s— — — Word or two on the Flute, dedicated to Charles Nicholson, Esq. containing 252 pages, 12 mo. cloth boards
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60
James’s— — — The Guitarist’s Catechism
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10
Albrechtsberger’s (Master in Composition to Beethoven, Moscheles, &c. &c.) complete Theoretical Works, translated from the original edition by A. Merrick, Esq. 2 vols. 8 vo. in boards, containing nearly 900 pages
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420

ON THE ART OF COMPOSING.

The Melographicon, a musical work, by which an interminable number of melodies may be produced; and those amateurs who have a taste for poetry enabled to set their verses to music, for the voice and pianoforte. The second edition, revised by J. A. Hamilton
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120
Cherubini’s New Work on Counterpoint and Fugue, translated by Hamilton, in 2 vols. 8 vo., price to subscribers 26 s., non-subscribers,
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360

N. B. In R. Cocks and Co.’s New Catalogue of Foreign Music will be found a splendid and almost endless variety of Modern Publications for all Instruments. So unspeakably rich is this Catalogue, that every lover of Classical Music should hasten and procure a copy, as it may be had gratis on application at the warehouses of the firm, 20 Princes-street, Hanover-square, or by letter set paid; in which case a copy will be forwarded to any part of the globe.