Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
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In my recent review of Schott’s ‘My First Schumann’ I concluded :
“This is a collection that will “keep on giving”, with such a great selection of pieces for students to enjoy over a number of years… ‘My First Schumann’ is a brilliant introduction to one of the world’s greatest ever piano composers. Highly Recommended!”
Hot on its heels comes the latest book in the series, ‘My First Beethoven’. Can it repeat the success of the previous book? Let’s take a closer look…
‘My First Beethoven’ shares the same format as the previous books by Schumann, Mozart and Bach in Schott’s Easy Composer Series. And like those collections, it features original works (not arrangements) bringing together many of the composer’s easier pieces in one volume.
The book has a beautiful cover, a short biographical sketch which includes a timeline of Beethoven’s life and some thoughts on performing his music. This is followed by the 27 selected pieces.
The music is printed on cream paper and nicely engraved, as per the high standards that Schott set for all their publications. Manuscript sources and occasional performance notes are included as footnotes. There is no CD, but of course recordings of all these pieces can easily be found online.
Were I to ask a group of teachers which compositions by Beethoven they most often teach to players in the range of Grades 1-6, there would probably be quite a list of favourites. At the easier end of the spectrum, perhaps some of the Ecossaises and German Dances might appear. Personally I am rather fond of the famous Sonatinas in G and F major, and ‘Lustig – Traurig’ would be an obvious intermediate choice.
These pieces would perhaps be followed by the perennial ‘Für Elise’. One or two of the other Bagatelles might appear next. After Grade 5 the Sonata in G major Op.49/2 is a fabulous piece of course, and doesn’t every student ask to play the first movement of the ever-popular “Moonlight Sonata” Op.27/2 at some point?
But where do teachers go to source all these pieces? Answers here might vary from using scraps of paper printed from the internet through to buying several different collections of music, or even single sheets of pieces. None of these are ideal solutions, and the latter can quickly get costly.
‘My First Beethoven’ provides the ideal solution: in one excellently edited, attractively presented and modestly priced collection, we have ALL of the pieces listed above, and more. Essentially this is the only Beethoven collection that players will need until they reach an advanced level and are ready for the complete Sonatas.
The fingering throughout is well considered, as with the previous books in the series. As a sample, I compared the fingering given for the Bagatelle in D, Op.33/6 (which is quite awkward for smaller hands) with that included in the Henle Urtext edition, and found very few differences. Overall where minor differences do exist, I actually prefered the solutions given in ‘My First Beethoven’.
This surely underlines the quality of editing on offer here, and series editor Wilhelm Ohmen deserves the highest praise.
As with the previous books in this superb series, ‘My First Beethoven’ exactly hits the spot it is aiming for. Child-friendly without being childish, this excellent and inspiring selection of Beethoven’s easier piano pieces deserves a place on every pianist and student’s library.
‘My First Beethoven’ is quite simply an outstanding collection, and will undoubtedly become a staple of my own students’ musical diet in the years ahead, replacing numerous other editions and books.
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20 thoughts on “My First Beethoven”
Hi Andrew! This is a great review – I am excited! My favourite piece by Beethoven is currently his piano sonata in C minor, op 10 no 1 as this is one I’m going to be playing in concert in the summer… It’s a lovely moody one with a gorgeous 2nd mvt!
My favorite piece is definitely the Pathetique. Especially the first movement. When I was 7, my mom got her co-worker to play it for me and it was the very first piece I saw played in front of me. It inspired me to take lessons and I eventually played that piece for my senior recital 🙂 and now I’ve been teaching piano and sharing my passion for the past three years.
I still love Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. It was my contest piece in the 8th grade and brings back such warm memories!
Beethoven. It is so hard to choose my favorite piece! I think Sonata Opus 31 #2. It was the first one I really got into after my high school years! I still go back to it because it brings back wonderful memories!
Hello my favourite piece of Beethoven is the last movement of the pathetique.The Rondo. I played it for my ALCM diploma many years ago. I love the drama of this piece particularly the ending.
I am a piano teacher and have taught Fur Elise to many pupils over the years. Every time someone learns it they love it so much. It’s a joy to teach.
My favorite piece always changes according to what I am working on at the moment. So currently it is Beethoven’s Waldstein sonata.
These sound like wonderful books! It sure is difficult to pick a favourite Beethoven piece… I know you probably meant piano piece, but I think my favourite piece by Beethoven has to actually be his Symphony No. 5. It is so grandiose, shows many different characters, but also is such a unified work. I think it is important for young piano students to also check out compositions that are not written just for piano!
I would choose the first movement of the Pathetique sonata.
Beethoven is my favorite composer. His 5th Symphony is my favorite work by him and I think it is one of the greatest pieces ever written.
My favourite is Fur Elise – it’s packed full of beautiful melodies, harmonies, rhythms, it’s always changing and keeps taking you by surprise. I just love to play it!
My daughter Eloise (7 years old) says “Moonlight Sonata” is her favorite piece by Beethoven, because it is really calming and has lots of sharps.
my favorite piece is Beethoven Sonata No. 27 in E Minor Op. 90, love the dramatic and the contrast of characters.
My favourite Beethoven piece is The Archduke Trio. Superb chamber music with a wonderful piano part.
I absolutely love the Sonata No. 26, Op.81a known as “Les Adieux”. This piece was a part of my final undergraduate recital, so it always brings back many wonderful memories from that period of my life. I loved being a student. Today, I love being a piano teacher.
Great review, thank you, I really like the sound of this book! I absolutely love Beethoven, both to listen to and to play. So it is hard to choose just one piece. My favourite is his Sonata in F minor, Op. 57 (“Appassionata”), it is so powerful and full of true Beethoven drama, whilst really looking ahead to the virtuosity and emotion of the Romantic era. I love it!
This book looks terrific-I’m always talking ‘Beethoven’ to my students. My favourite piece is the Pathetique Sonata, especially the middle movement. My mother used to play “Adieu to the Piano” while we were going to sleep so that’s a close second!
I think the Pathetique. As a young student when I first heard it, I knew I had to learn to play it. So much drama, it got my imagination to work overtime on what mental scenes it was evoking.
My favorite work of Beethoven is his Moonlight Sonata, it soothes my soul.
Spring sonata for violin because it flows like a stream.
Thanks for the review – this series looks really good! Another vote here for Pathetique, although truthfully I don’t feel like I know enough Beethoven repertoire – I obviously need this book 😉
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