Saturday, March 15, 2008

Franz Liszt: La Campanella

La Campanella ("The Handbell" or "The Little Bell") is a piano etude, also known as a study piece, written by virtuoso pianist and composer Franz Liszt as part of a series of six Grandes Etudes de Paganini ("Grand Paganini Etudes"), S. 141, composed in 1838, revised in 1851. As the name suggests, it is based on musical themes by Niccolò Paganini. The 'La Campanella' theme is borrowed from the final movement of Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, a rondo in which the harmonics were reinforced in the ringing of a handbell.

Liszt had already used the theme for an earlier set of variations, Grande Fantaise de Bravoure sur "La Clochette" de Paganini in B minor for piano in 1831-32. He then revised the piece as Etudes d'Execution Transcendante d'apres Paganini ("Trancendental Etudes after Paganini") No. 3 in A-flat minor, S. 140—not to be confused with Études d'exécution transcendante S. 139. This revision actually contains not only the La Campanella theme from the 2nd Violin Concerto, but also the main theme from the rondo of Paganini's first violin concerto. The final version of Grandes Etudes de Paganini, which is the now most commonly published and recorded of the available variations, is written in the enharmonic key of G-sharp minor.

The etude is played at a brisk pace and studies right hand jumping between intervals larger than one octave, sometimes even stretching for two whole octaves within the time of a sixteenth note, at Allegretto tempo. As a whole, the etude can be practiced upon to increase dexterity and accuracy at large jumps on the piano, along with agility of the weaker fingers of the hand. The largest intervals reached by the right hand are fifteenths (two octaves) and sixteenths (two octaves and a second). Sixteenth notes are played between the two notes and the same note is played two octaves or two octaves and a second higher with no rest. No time is provided for the pianist to move the hand, thus forcing the pianist to avoid tension within the muscles. Fifteenth intervals are quite common in the beginning of the etude, while the sixteenth intervals appear twice, at around the thirtieth and thirty-second measures.

Sheet File: lacampanella.pdf


Starlight in the sky said...

This is really a wonderful piano piece! I'd love to play it but I'm still not good enough :)
Thank you for your nice description!

Anonymous said...

Sounds amazing)))
if only i could play it...
by the way who is that guy in the video who plays itlike soooo
what's his name?

Anonymous said...

he is Li Yundi, a famous chinese pianist

Anonymous said...

To be honest, i believe the one you are talking about is Evgeny Kissin. His version is the most beautiful, according to the masses. Of course, you must respect other opinions, but the most people think this one is the best one. Watch it on youtube: