Gurlitt: The First Lessons (Op.117)

Cornelius Gurlitt (1820-1901) was a German composer who wrote a great amount of attractive music for piano students. Here is a selection of pieces from his collection The First Lessons (Anfangs-Stunden in German). These editions have been specially prepared for animatedpiano.com and are free to download. They are hosted by the International Music Score Library Project (imslp.org).

The earlier pieces in The First Lessons have no titles so the following descriptions may be helpful:

No.6, Allegretto grazioso, is a charming little melody which grows out of a C major broken chord pattern.

No.8, Vivace, is a spirited march.

No.9, Allegretto, is a little study which encourages a good, well-balanced hand position.

No.12, Moderato, is a simple scale study. It uses the scale of C major in the right hand and, later, G major in the left hand.

Christmas carillon

This year it’s going to be a very strange Christmas for most of us, but we have to make the best of it while remembering to stay safe. Here’s our musical Christmas greeting, featuring the sound of a carillon. If you’re wondering what a carillon is, there is some information in the video.

With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

In the Bleak Midwinter (Sheet music level E)

In the Bleak Midwinter is a setting of a poem by Christina Rosetti (1830-94). The music is by Gustav Holst (1874-1934), who is best known as the composer of the orchestral suite The Planets. The sheet music can be downloaded below (underneath the video) or via the Sheet Music page.

This arrangement stays fairly close to Holst’s original setting for 4-part choir. A light touch on the sustaining pedal may be helpful in places, but be careful not to overdo the pedalling.

Deck the Hall (Sheet music level C)

This well-known traditional carol, which is often called Deck the Halls, needs no introduction. The free sheet music can be downloaded below (underneath the video) or via the Sheet Music page.

In this arrangement, both hands stay in position most of the time. But watch out for the right hand thumb-under in bar 11. Notice that all the notes in bars 11-12 can be found in the middle of the 2-octave scale of G major.

Goblins and Ghosts! (Sheet music level D)

Here’s a spooky piece which has been specially written for animatedpiano.com . The free PDF sheet music can be downloaded below (underneath the video) or via the Sheet Music page. Goblins and Ghosts! is a staccato study which will need careful counting. Remember that the spaces between the notes are just as important as the notes themselves!

If you enjoy Goblins and Ghosts!, why not make a video of yourself playing it and upload it to YouTube? For extra effect you could dress up in a Halloween costume! But don’t worry if you’re not able to learn it in time for Halloween, it would be good at any time of the year.

Introduction to animatedpiano.com’s scale videos

Do you wish you had a piano scale book that could play each scale to you, show you the notes on the keyboard and help you to prepare the fingering? If so, we think you’ll like the new series of scale videos from animatedpiano.com! This video introduces them and shows some examples.

The complete list of scale videos can be found on this page: Scales, chords and exercises. It will be updated when new videos are available.

Superb at-home recital from Mariam Batsashvili

In these difficult times, musicians are having to find unusual ways to perform. Here’s a recent recital given by concert pianist Mariam Batsashvili, from her home. The recital includes pieces by Chopin, Liszt and Paderewski, with spoken introductions to each piece. Watch and enjoy!

And here’s another stay-at-home concert from Mariam Batsashvili. More Chopin and Liszt, and a sonata by Haydn.

Wait, there’s more! This third recital features a selection of works by Liszt.

Animatedpiano challenge update: let’s include all the key workers

Our YouTube ‘fanfare challenge’ (see https://animatedpiano.com/information/animatedpiano-challenge-fanfare-for-health-workers/ ) is still ongoing. But now, taking our cue from the UK’s Classic FM (https://www.classicfm.com/music-news/coronavirus/applaud-nhs-front-line-workers/ ), we’re extending the tribute to include all key workers. Delivery drivers, volunteers, workers in the food industry and emergency services, all the other people who are so vital to all of us, are worthy of support. So we’re going to change the title of the challenge to ‘Animatedpiano challenge: fanfare for key workers’. The basic instructions for the original challenge still apply. Remember that this is open to pianists (and other keyboard players) of all ages and abilities. So come on, don’t be shy, let those fanfares ring out!

Resources to liven up piano learning: sheet music, videos and more!

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