18 Jul 2021

Tutorials for playing Franz Liszt’s La Campanella. Each Tutorial teaches various aspects of the composition, the third Grand Etude de Paganini.

Liszt wrote a total of 6 “Etudes de Paganini” of which No. 3 “La Campanella” is the most famous one. Campanella (plural campanelle) is Italian for ‘little bell’.

Niccolo Paganini was a composer and lived about 40 years before Liszt. He is famous for his virtuoso violin compositions. It is a fact that Liszt was strongly influenced by Paganini’s music. Liszt became almost obsessed with creating piano works as monstrously difficult as Paganini’s violin works.

La Campanella is notorious for being one of the most difficult pieces ever written for piano. It is played at a brisk allegretto tempo and features right hand jumps between intervals larger than one octave, sometimes even stretching for two whole octaves within the time of a sixteenth note. As a whole, the étude can be practiced 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. Little 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 étude, while the sixteenth intervals appear twice, at the thirtieth and thirty-second measures.