Beethoven’s Revised Für Elise

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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“It’s Für Elise, Jim, but not as we know it!”

Bärenreiter’s new urtext edition of Beethoven’s beloved Bagatelle is one of the most unexpectedly fascinating publications to arrive in a while, offering as it does a radically different version of the piece alongside the one we know so well.

Believed to have been composed between 1808-10, the autograph manuscript of Für Elise remained in private hands until 1865, at which point one Ludwig Nohl discovered it in the possession of a local piano teacher in Munich. Nohl published this version (we’ll call it “Version 1”) in 1867, and it’s the one we all play to this day. It’s really not bad.

How surprising to learn, then, that in 1822/3 Beethoven went back and revisited his earlier sketch, substantially revising it for publication within a planned (but unrealised) collection of 12 Bagatelles. Version 2.0.

Those sketches survive, and for Bärenreiter’s new edition Mario Aschauer presents not only the most authoritative text of Version 1, but also includes his fully performable completion of Version 2.

The review below includes Aschauer’s own recording of Version 2, so you can hear it for yourself and make up your own mind.

Be prepared for a bit of a shock, though; right from the start, Beethoven’s revised version is very different to that which we know…

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Peaceful Piano Solos: The Series

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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Hal Leonard’s Peaceful Piano Solos series began life in 2018 with an initial title and matching easy piano version, offering the same 30 popular relaxing piano solos.

Peaceful Christmas Piano Solos (which I have already reviewed here) and Peaceful Piano Solos Soundtracks followed the next year.

With the recent release of Peaceful Classical Piano Solos, this seems like a good moment to catch up with the series as a whole.

First, I will introduce each of the books in turn, including their track lists and particular points to note. For information about the Christmas edition, please refer back to my previous review.

Later in the review, I will then offer some generic observations about the publications and series as a whole…

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Rybicki: Young Modernist

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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Introducing Polish composer Feliks Rybicki’s educational piano books as part of my Music from Chopin’s Land series, I noted:

“The piano educational music of Feliks Rybicki is one of the great treasures of the pedagogic repertoire, and deserves to be known by teachers and students everywhere…”

In that review I considered his trilogy I Begin to Play, I Am Already Playing and I Can Play Everything for piano, published worldwide by PWM Edition, who have now reissued another of Rybicki’s early intermediate collections, Young Modernist.

This edition once again appears in the “CAT” series aimed at children, in landscape format, and with superb colour illustrations within…

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Anna Robinson: Notes on a Neighbourhood

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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Back in January of this year I received, out of the blue, a music book produced by Melbourne, Australia-based composer and teacher Anna Robinson, together with a charming letter of introduction. Notes on a Neighbourhood features seven late-intermediate character pieces.

It isn’t unusual for me to receive unexpected material from those who have enjoyed reading my reviews here and are naturally keen to see their work featured, but to be honest I often find that self-published music falls short of making a significant impression on me. As a published composer myself, I have learnt the value that a good editor can bring into the equation, and it is usually obvious when that added-value is missing.

Not so in the case of Notes on a Neighbourhood, which has been burning a hole on my music stand ever since it arrived, the pieces within continuing to impress with their musical and pedagogic content.


With a little encouragement from me, and a lot of work from Anna, Robinson’s book is now available as a physical publication here in the UK, printed by Halstan, and stocked for mail order purchase by Forsyth’s in Manchester here.

So what’s the story?

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Janina Garścia: Ikebana

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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In my 2020 series Music from Chopin’s Land I highlighted several publications by leading 20th century music educator and composer Janina Garścia. You can read my review here and watch PWM’s educational videos, filmed to support piano teachers as part of a project in which I was myself also a presenter.

I’m happy to let you know that PWM Edition have more recently reissued another Garścia classic. Ikebana Op.70 is a series of eleven intermediate piano solos which the composer dedicated ‘to the children and youngsters of the distant land of Japan’, the music itself inspired by Japanese culture.

Let’s go exploring…

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Disney Goes Classical

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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Disney Goes Classical is the latest hit album from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, comprising 15 favourite songs from Disney movies. You can stream it on all the usual platforms, and now you can also play the arrangements from the recently published 72-page accompanying music book…

The “Classical” of the title presumably refers to the fact that the album was recorded by seasoned classical artists (including cameo appearances from guitarist Kaori Muraji and singers Renée Fleming and Matteo Bocelli) rather than a studio orchestra; most of the songs seem to me little changed from the originals.

As such the new music book serves not only as a companion to the RPO recording but as a potentially useful and inspiring collection of some of the most iconic Disney songs.

There’s no shortage of Disney songbooks on the market of course, but this one has special appeal, so let me sprinkle you with fairy dust and we’ll take a tour of this magical publication….

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The Rusty Pianist

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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Pam Wedgwood has an uncanny knack for spotting a niche; time and again, with publications such as the best-selling Jazzin’ About, After Hours, It’s Never Too Late and Up-Grade series, Wedgwood has delivered neatly-positioned and engagingly crafted material that has exactly met the need of the hour.

And with The Rusty Pianist she’s undoubtedly done it again.

Appearing after a year in which many former players who previously gave up playing have returned to their hobby with renewed enthusiasm, this handsomely presented 40-page book offers an opportunity for them to, as the publishers put it,

“Rediscover the piano with this exciting collection of easy-to-learn piano solos.”

So let’s investigate further …

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People Get Ready!

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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People Get Ready is a new collection of 13 solo piano arrangements of popular songs by Black musicians, suitable for late intermediate to early advanced players.

Brought to us by Faber Music, the publication presents itself as a “celebration of black songwriters”, offering a selection of iconic works that certainly fulfil that aim, while also tapping into the zeitgeist of the present moment.

People Get Ready is in my view an important and excellent publication, so in this review I will consider each of the 13 songs, include YouTube clips of the originals, as well as adding insights about these new piano arrangements, which have been produced by Faber regular Oliver Weeks.

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Nikki Iles and Friends

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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Nikki Iles will be known to many readers for her Jazz on a Winter’s Night book and subsequent series for OUP, and her recent Tales for Alice and Tales for Peter Pan collections for EVC Music, all of which I have been hugely impressed by.

Over the years, Iles has also contributed to the ABRSM Jazz Piano Syllabus and composed several memorable pieces for the board’s standard piano grades, which are always popular choices. And now she’s back with two new books of jazz pieces for ABRSM, between them bringing 29 new piano solos to the intermediate and advanced repertoire, composed and arranged by Iles and a stellar array of luminaries of the contemporary jazz world.

With the drawing power of Iles and friends, and the marketing clout of ABRSM, these two books are sure to fly off the shelves, so let’s take a closer look while we can!

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The Faber Music Contemporary Piano Anthology

SHEET MUSIC REVIEW • written by ANDREW EALES
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Faber Music’s growing series of Piano Anthology books are a continuing source of joy, and have been enthusiastically received by several of my regular adult students.

I have reviewed the previous collections here:

Spoilers: in all cases I have been impressed both with the intelligence and value of the music selections and the quality of the publications themselves.

So it great to be welcoming a new addition to the family with the delivery of The Faber Music Contemporary Piano Anthology, which offers 52 “beautiful neoclassical pieces for solo piano”.

Let’s find out whether it lives up to the high standards set by the series…

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