If you say the name Carl Czerny (1791-1857) to any student of music nowadays, the first thing that will get mentioned are the hundreds of keyboard exercises that he composed and are still being imposed on piano students to this day. It is for this reason largely, that Czerny has been put into the pigeon hole of pianist who wrote etudes for students, and nothing more.

The fact is that Czerny was an incredibly prolific composer that wrote a huge catalogue of works. There are 861 compositions that Czerny gave opus numbers to. He himself categorized his compositions into four categories:

  1. studies and exercises
  2. easy pieces for students
  3. brilliant pieces for concerts
  4. serious music.

Czerny was also a very successful pedagogue and performer. He is possibly Beethoven’s most well-known student and went on to teach the likes of Franz Liszt, Sigismond Thalberg, Theodor Kulak and others.

Born in the year of Mozart’s death and surviving one year longer than Schumann, Czerny’s music may be seen as music that transitions from the gallant style of Mozart and Haydn, to the more chromatic and harmonically diverse music of Schumann and Mendelssohn. Early Czerny sounds like early Beethoven whereas later Czerny sounds very much like it came right out of the romantic tradition of Brahms and Schumann.

Czerny taught and performed in Vienna for almost a quarter century, teaching 12 students a day. In the evenings he made money performing his so called brilliant show pieces for the salons of any Viennese bourgeoisie who could afford his fee.

 As a teacher, he is often seen as the father of modern piano technique. His pedagogical ideas making their way right up to the present day through a lineage of renowned pianists:

  • Wanda Landowska:: pupil of Moritz Moszkowski← Theodor Kullak ← Czerny;
  • Sergei Prokofiev: pupil of Anna Yesipova ← Theodor Leschetizky ← Czerny;
  • Claidio Array: pupil of Martin Krause ← Liszt ← Czerny;
  • Ernst von Dohnanyi: pupil of Istvan Thoman ← Liszt ← Czerny;
  • Georges Cziffra: pupil of Istvan Thoman ← Liszt ← Czerny;
  • Daniel Barenboim: pupil of Edwin Fischer ← Martin Krause ← Liszt ← Czerny;
  • Van Cliburn: pupil of Rildia Bee Cliburn ← Arthur Friedheim ← Liszt ← Czerny;
  • Sergei Rachmaninov: pupil of Alexander Siloti ← Liszt ← Czerny;
  • Leon Fleisher: pupil of Artur Schnabel← Theodor Leschetizky ← Czerny;


Join Intermezzo host Chris Wolf in the 1:00pm hour this week, as he takes a dive into the serious compositions of Czerny. This is music that is engaging, and will make listeners view Carl Czerny in a whole new sonic prism.