In this volume are to be found many small but pleasing piano pieces by the 19th-century composer Stephen Heller. The majority are of only medium difficulty, but their sound always has a particular charm. In 1853 Heller wrote to his publisher that he “had not sought to write many words” here, but wanted to suggest something “substantial and meaningful” in “just a few strokes”. Our volume provides valuable insights into Heller’s artistic development and is entirely devoted to the “character piece”, a form that comprises the major part of his compositional output. Examples include “Die kleine Bettlerin” [The little beggar-girl], “Nach erquickender Rast” [After a refreshing rest] and “Weinendes Kind” [Crying child] – scenes that conjure up and express a particular mood. As Ursula Kersten writes in her preface, Heller’s music already makes one think of Impressionism, and repays the effort involved in getting to know the composer of this volume more closely.
- Level of difficulty (Explanation)
- Other titles with this level of difficulty
Stephen Heller (1813–1888) is one of those 19th-century composers who wrote almost exclusively for their own instruments. Unlike other such composers who largely specialized in virtuoso pieces, Heller seldom turned to the virtuoso style in his works. This applies above all to the character pieces selected for this edition, which are at most of moderate difficulty and … more
About the composer
A composer and pianist of the Romantic era from Hungary. His oeuvre is almost exclusively limited to the piano and includes character pieces, variations, dances, paraphrases, and didactic volumes of etudes.
|1813||Born in Pest on May 15. He receives early musical training from Ferenc Bräuer and Alajos Czibulka.|
|1824–28||Studies in Vienna with Carl Czerny and Anton Halm round off his musical education.|
|1829||With his father he undertakes a large-scale concert tour through various parts of Europe. In Warsaw he meets Frédéric Chopin for the first time.|
|1830–38||Due to illness, Heller breaks off his concert tour in Augsburg. He remains here and receives support from, among others, Count Frederick Fugger-Kirchheim-Hoheneck. He begins an active correspondence with Robert Schumann, who advocates for Heller’s compositions in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik.|
|from 1838||He travels with Friedrich Kalkbrenner to Paris, where he meets Hector Berlioz and Franz Liszt, and works as a piano teacher.|
|from 1840||Publishes his volumes of etudes op. 16 and opp. 45–47, as well as articles on music.|
|from 1850||Composes several works, including the “Promenades d’un solitaire,” op. 78; 24 Préludes, op. 81; and “Nuits blanches” (“Restless Nights”), op. 82. His internationally successful works are played by Anton Rubinstein and Clara Schumann, among others.|
|from 1870/71||In the course of the Franco-Prussian War, Heller settles in Switzerland. Here he writes compositions including the Freischütz etudes, op. 127, as well as his variations on a theme by Beethoven, opp. 130 and 133. After the end of the war he returns to Paris.|
|1888||Dies in Paris on January 14.|