I begin this series of posts about my favorite piano books, the ones I use the most in class with my students, the ones I consider essential in my library. These are books that include pieces ranging from elementary to late intermediate level. In these posts I will not include the traditional repertoire books that most pianists have studied with, such as Burgmüller, Clementi, Schumann, Kabalevsky, and other authors. The books by these aforementioned authors are so well-known that they do not require an introduction. Besides, I believe it is crucial for any piano teacher to be familiar with pedagogical pieces from more recent authors. In last decades, countless books have been written for these early years of a pianist’s training, pieces rich in sonority, contrasts, meters, rhythms, registers, and in a variety of styles that will provide us with endless attractive resources to use in our classes.
Today’s post is dedicated to the book “Twelve Preludes” by Timothy Brown. These 12 preludes are written in the style of 19th-century piano music, making them perfect for exploring the stylistic, technical, and expressive elements that students will encounter in the great works of Romanticism they will study in later courses. These preludes clearly show influences from Chopin’s preludes, but they also remind us of those written by Heller, Bertini, and even Rachmaninoff.
The preludes range from one-page pieces to the longest ones spanning three pages, and they have a difficulty level ranging from intermediate to late intermediate. Each prelude explores one or two rhythmic and melodic motifs that are repeated throughout. The pieces are rich and expressive, and both technically and musically demanding. Students are drawn to the impetuous and passionate preludes as well as the more melancholic or intimate ones, and all of them are perfect for performance in recitals.
So that you can listen to some examples of the books that I am going to write about in this series of posts, I have made some recordings of the pieces that I use the most in my classes.
The piece that opens this book, prelude No. 1 in D minor, is written in 6/8 time. The right hand plays eighth notes throughout the entire prelude while the left accompanies playing octaves..
Prelude No. 3 in A major, also written in 6/8, is simpler than the previous one, where arpeggios are performed in eighth notes distributed between the two hands with the only exception of the chords of the last 4 bars.
Prelude No. 4, written in C minor, is an adagio lamentoso of a totally different character compared to the previous preludes. Written in 4/4, the composer uses chords distributed in two notes for each hand, perfect for working on the independence of the upper melody from the rest of the chord voices.
Prelude No. 6 in F minor, written in 4/4, has a passionate character and is much easier to play than it seems, although it still presents some difficulty. The chords in the central section, with the jumps in the left hand, are perfect for working on the sonority of the large chords that the student will encounter in more advanced works of the Romantic period.
Prelude No. 10 in C minor is an allegro con fuoco, it is a fiery and brilliant piece written in 4/4.
About the author
Just as it is important for students to know details about the lives of classical composers, I believe it is also interesting for them to get to know and learn a little about contemporary composers of the pieces they perform. Timothy Brown was born in Middletown, Ohio, USA. He has an extensive repertoire of pedagogical piano music, with over 300 pieces written for this purpose. Additionally, he has composed works for orchestra, chamber music, choral music and even music for ballet.
I contacted him via email (he is very kind, by the way). I asked him to share some aspects of his life that are not necessarily related to music, which I could share with my students (and the readers of the blog). He told me that ever since he was a child, he has had a deep love for collies and he even sent me a photo to show how beautiful these dogs are.
He is also a passionate admirer of Italy, roadsters (especially Italian ones), and Ennio Morricone’s music. He is the father of twins, both of whom are talented pianists. One of them is also a writer, while the other flies jets.
If you want more information about the author visit timothybrownmusic.com
I hope you all enjoy these preludes as much as my students and I do.