Carl Czerny

Portrait of Carl Czerny

Carl Czerny was an Austrian composer, teacher, and pianist of Czech origin whose music spanned the late Classical and early Romantic eras. He was one of Beethoven’s  best-known pupils. He was born on 21st February 1791 in Vienna, Austria and died there on 15th July 1857 aged 66.

Major Works

He wrote over one thousand pieces including symphonies, concertos and chamber music but is best known now for his etudes such as “The School of Velocity” and “The Art of Finger Dexterity”
“On the Proper performance of all Beethoven’s Works for Piano” (1846).

Biography Timeline

Carl Czerny was born on 21st February 1781 in Leopoldstadt, Vienna, Austria. His father Wenzel, was an oboist, organist and pianist of Czech origin. His mother was Moravian. He was taught the piano by his father.

1781: His father gets a job as a piano teacher at a Polish manor and the family move to Poland.

1788: He begins composing at age seven. 

1795: His family return to Vienna due to the Third Partition of Poland. 

1796: He begins teaching the piano aged fifteen in Vienna. He taches up to twelve lessons a day in the homes of the nobility.

1800: He makes his first public performance playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 24 in C Minor.

1801: The Czech musician Wenzel Krumpholz presents Czerny at the home of Ludwig van Beethoven where he plays the “Pathetique” Sonata. Beethoven is greatly impressed with the boy and takes him on as his pupil. Besides the master he is influenced by the work of Muzio Clemenzi and Johann Nepomuk Hummel.

1804: He has his last lesson with Beethoven but is asked to play his music at Prince Lichnowsky’s palace every week. 

1806: Beethoven personally selects Czerny to play the premiere of his Piano Concerto No.1.

1812: Aged just twenty-one he plays the Vienna premiere of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 5 “The Emperor” in February.

1819: Franz Liszt’s father brings his son for lessons and he becomes Czerny’s most famous pupil. He is later to introduce the music of Czerny at his Paris recitals.

1823: On 13th April shortly before Liszt’s last concert of the season Czerny introduces him to Beethoven who is impressed with his performance.

1837: He visits France with the assistance of Liszt. He hardly leaves Vienna except for other short trips to Italy and England. He is a contributor to the compendium set of variations for piano, called the “Hexameron”.

1840: From now on he devotes himself to composition. His complete works run to over one thousand pieces. These include not only piano music such as études, nocturnes and sonatas but also choral music, symphonies, concertos, and a wide variety of chamber music. He becomes largely known for his piano studies such as “The School of Velocity”, “The Art of Finger Dexterity” and the “School of the Left Hand”. He edits his edition of the Sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti.

1842: He publishes his autobiography “Erinnerungen aus Meinem Leben” (Memories from My Life).

1846: He publishes “On the Proper Performance of all Beethoven’s Works for Piano”.

1852: Franz Liszt dedicates his “Etudes d’Execution Transcendente” to Czerny.

Carl Czerny died unmarried and childless on 15th July 1857 in Vienna, Austria. His fortune went to several charities including those for the deaf and his works were sent to the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna. He was buried in the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in the city.