By AnneMarie Cordeiro
G. Schirmer has proven itself to be an important and influential figure in American music publishing. This publishing house continues to offer a wide variety of sheet music to be enjoyed by practical and theoretical musicians of all levels. Take a look at these piano favorites from Schirmer’s Library of Musical Classics!
Sonatina Album, by various composers
For teachers, students, and self-taught pianists, Schirmer has organized this collection for both performance and pedagogy. The editors have arranged these selections by composer as well as in a series of progressive lessons comprised of sonatinas and other short pieces, displaying an intention that the book be used for lessons and recitals.
This Schirmer collection features multi-movement sonatinas by several composers, including Muzio Clementi. Clementi was renowned as a composer, a performer, and a teacher during his life, also filling roles as a publisher and piano manufacturer. The original compositions that made Clementi famous as a performer were the same pedagogical tools he used for his students.
Try your hand at the same pages performed by the masters!
Nocturnes, by Frederic Chopin
Perhaps one of the more important facts to remember about Chopin’s piano music is that he was one of the first composers to compose music that was truly idiomatic to the instrument. Among the tools he explored are the control of dynamic intensity, the decay of each pitch, and the new textures that could be created in varying layers.
The nocturne is one of the most recognizable piano miniatures, evolving with the instrument itself. Chopin really established the variety possible within a single genre: each nocturne has a unique quality. He would also expand the characteristics of nocturnes by hiding elements of other genres in these compositions.
Check out the mazurka and chorale sections in op. 15 no. 3 included in this book.
Songs Without Words, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Emerging from the boom of piano miniatures of the Romantic era, Mendelssohn’s Lieder ohne Worte (Songs Without Words) still remain a bit of a mystery to modern pianists and musicologists. These short, lyrical piano pieces vary disparately in tone, mood, and character, however a particular style is always maintained. Mendelssohn himself coined the German language term, using it as the title for eight collections of piano compositions. Because of the name, it is thought that they evolved from a game Mendelssohn played as a child: adding texts to piano pieces with his sister. Schumann conjectured that these pieces had texts that the composer removed for publication. Mendelssohn even intended for almost all Lieder to be published without descriptive titles.
What do you think? Do the Lieder ohne Worte need to be paired with titles and texts? Are lyrics hiding behind the lyrical phrases?
Complete Rags, by Scott Joplin
This Schirmer edition of these well-loved rags is newly-engraved for ease of performance. Also included is a series of ragtime exercises written by Joplin and stylistic and historical notes from editor Max Morath. Don’t know which rag is your favorite? Browse through the table of contents—it’s also thematic index of the first measures of each melody.
While these rags are rooted in popular dance music, Joplin always made efforts for his compositions to meet the standards of excellence established by his “classical” peers. So, acknowledging that ragtime is a viscerally enjoyable genre to play, listen to, or dance to, when performing Joplin’s rags, we must all strive toward the impeccable technique required of music from the Western European art music tradition, but maintain the vivacity and of American vernacular dance rhythms. One foot stomps stop time in the dance hall, and the other deftly pedals in the concert hall.
AnneMarie Cordeiro is a recent addition to the Sheet Music Plus customer service team. Her musical exploits have included a B.A. in classical piano performance, an M.A. in musicology with a focus in early blues music, experience as a vocal and choral accompanist, and work as a piano technician. Her masters thesis sits on the shelves at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame library.