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My Interpretation of "Für Elise" by Beethoven

Cory Hall

Für Elise (For Elise) is arguably "the most popular" piano piece of all time. I recorded it about four years ago for YouTube; however, I decided to upload a new interpretation which was brought about by my recent teaching of it to an 11-year-old student. (Teaching certain pieces to students often gets me motivated and in the mood to make video recordings.) I have since deleted the older version.

⇒ CLICK HERE for Piano Lessons via Skype -- I teach worldwide!! ⇐


One of the great things about music and piano is that, as long as one remains a human being and is still living and breathing, one will inevitably develop new interpretations of the same music. Play the same piece when you are 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and beyond, and you will discover a different performer each time. This does not necessarily mean a "better" performer, but rather a "different" performer with a new conception of a very familiar work. The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus claimed that one can never step in the same place in a river twice because the water is always flowing, and thus, the ground and sediment below constantly change. Such is also the case with musical interpretation.

In my new interpretation, I have decided upon a slightly faster tempo than my first recording. Most pianists, and especially young piano students, play this piece too fast and aggressively. Moreover, most piano students -- and I know this by teaching it hundreds of times -- play it much too loud and not "cantabile" enough. For example, the third section (with the repeated "A" in the bass) is often played like an aggressive "Indian dance" as if it were one the ubiquitous "Indian" pieces found in almost every piano method book. The correct character, however, is "subdued" and "mysterious" rather than "aggressive" or "energetic."

It is important to note that Beethoven marked most of Für Elise piano or pianissimo and that the loudest dynamic mark is mezzo forte. In addition, Beethoven also indicated several diminuendos combined with ritardandos, usually before the return of the main theme or end of a section. These are very often ignored or overlooked by most pianists. Another interpretive subtlety often overlooked by most pianists is the crescendo-decrescendo hairpin accompanying the first measure of the main theme. This indicates a slight emphasis on the second beat where the last "E" occurs before moving down to "B". I like to do an ever so slight holding back in tempo here, that is, a slight "rubato" which gives the theme added expression.

Für Elise is a calm, serene, and cantabile piece of music that should be played with a controlled tempo and with much expression. I have known this piece for around forty years now, and I never get tired of it. A good way to ruin Für Elise is to play it like a robot and ignore all the expressive indications, which is the way I have heard it played 90% of the time -- even by seasoned professionals. By the way, the tempo I have chosen in my new interpretation is 108 per eighth note (quaver) which to me, at this point in my life, seems like the perfect tempo. Please enjoy my new interpretation of Für Elise and thank you for reading this blog!


Vernon Taranto, Jr. -- Composer Extraordinaire

Cory Hall

BachScholar Publishing, LLC, is happy to announce the newest composer whose piano music has been accepted for publication: Vernon Taranto, Jr. Paramount to BachScholar's mission is to publish and promote the highest quality piano music being written by our finest composers today, and Dr. Taranto certainly fits this bill. To read more about Dr. Taranto, please CLICK HERE! Below is my performance of Taranto's work that will soon be published:


In just seven months in business as of this writing, BachScholar Publishing already has a roster of five featured composers whose piano works have been accepted for publication and are currently in production. These distinguished composers' works vary from classical to jazz and from sacred to secular. Five Vignettes by Vernon Taranto, Jr. offers pianists an exciting adventure into space, the stars, and our galaxy. Philip Kim has composed some awesome arrangements of traditional Christian hymns and patriotic songs that pianists are sure to love. Jeremiah Bornfield has penned some outstanding neo-Baroque and Bachian style works for piano. Tiago Videira has graced us with some highly original and inventive impressionist-style piano pieces. And last but not least, GRAMMY winner Norman Henry Mamey will put a smile on pianists' faces with his well-crafted and catchy jazz pieces for students and professionals of all levels. To read more about BachScholar's Featured Composers, CLICK HERE!


1. Vernon Taranto, Jr. (ASCAP) 2. Philip Kim (ASCAP) 3. Jeremiah Bornfield (BMI) 4. Tiago Videira (SPA-Portugal, ASCAP affiliate) 5. Norman Henry Mamey -- GRAMMY winner! (ASCAP)



Established in 2011 and making its debut on the internet in September 2012, BachScholar Publishing, LLC, produces quality digital sheet music for pianists. With an emphasis on clean and accurate "Urtext" editions, each BachScholar™ score is meticulously engraved with staves up to a full inch longer than conventional sheet music resulting in exceptionally clear and easy-to-read manuscripts. All scores -- formatted for "letter" and "A4" paper sizes -- are delivered via PDF files for instant downloading, printing, or saving for future reference. BachScholar™ is the first and only publisher in the world to publish and produce exclusively digital sheet music. (Please note that all of the most popular digital sheet music companies on the internet today are retailers rather than publishers.)

BachScholar Publishing holds publishing memberships in both ASCAP and BMI (the latter, doing business as "BachScholar Global Publishing"), permitting composers belonging to either performing rights organization to officially register and publish their works through BachScholar's ASCAP or BMI affiliations. Benefits of publishing with BachScholar™ include: one-on-one personal interaction with the editor and publisher, highest quality musical manuscripts, marketing on YouTube, music presented and sold on a high-quality e-commerce website, royalties for each copy sold. One of BachScholar's missions is to publish and promote the highest quality piano music being written by our finest composers today.

In addition to publishing and producing the highest quality digital piano sheet music on the internet today, BachScholar™ also offers Piano Lessons via Skype to students worldwide. Dr. Hall is a devoted piano teacher with over 30 years' teaching experience who welcomes students of all ages and levels. BachScholar's website also offers a large selection of musical instruments and CDs by popular, worldwide artists. BachScholar Publishing, LLC, is fully accredited by the Better Business Bureau of the United States and Canada.

Exciting New Piano Étude: "Isorhythmic Exultation!"

Cory Hall

It was in the highly prolific year of 2011 that I first began to consider myself a "serious" composer. Around March of that year I began churning out piano work after piano work without even trying. Music simply flowed out of my fingers and into my video camera, and later in 2012 onto paper, with virtually no effort. I recently explained this phenomenon in more detail in a previous post on my 10 Biblical Portraits, Opus 1. BUY THE SHEET MUSIC HERE: ⇒ Isorhythmic Exultation! ⇐

One of my early works in 2011 was the unique and exciting Isorhythmic Exultation!, a secular work and rhythmic etude brimming with infectious momentum and energy. It is the ideal piece for energetic, advanced pianists and is especially ideal for encores. I remember coming up with the initial melody one day in early 2011 but I didn't do anything with it or try to expand upon it for several weeks. The melody was a simple but effective "horn fifth" style tune that sounded something like a cross between "Peanuts" and "Beethoven." It is an incredibly happy and playful melody!

One day I began experimenting and developing it a little further and discovered that the only rhythm that accommodated it was an asymmetrical or "additive" rhythm of 3 + 3 + 2 in which the fastest underlying note value, the eighth, is grouped into two groups of threes followed by one group of two. (In other words, it is simply in 4/4 where the eighth is grouped as 3 + 3 + 2 instead of the traditional 2 + 2 + 2 + 2.) This hypnotic-like rhythm is similar to those used by Béla Bartók in works such as Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm, from Mikrokosmos, Vol. 6. The word "Isorhythmic," usually associated with a style of late medieval music, means literally "one rhythm" or "the same rhythm" which is repeated over and over again throughout a composition. Hence, I decided upon the interesting and appropriate title Isorhythmic Exultation! I remember almost titling it "Étude" since it does in fact have strong characteristics of a rhythmic etude.

Isorhythmic Exultation! consists of three sections, A-B-A, in which the first "A" section states the horn-fifth melody and the "B" section serves as an improvisatory or solo section. At the end is an exciting and perpetual-motion style coda. It is in the bright and optimistic key of Eb major. Binding these three sections is an ostinato left-hand accompaniment which functions as the "rhythmic glue" and rarely deviates from its Eb center. The solo right-hand part in the "B" section reminds me of something from the "progressive rock" era, especially the music of Yes. This was unintentional in that I did not sit down and consciously plan it to sound like something from Yes, but rather, it just happened to come out this way. The virtuosic coda brings the work to a hair-raising conclusion.

Advanced-level piano students, professional concert pianists, piano teachers, and audiences are guaranteed to be enthralled by the unique and infectious energy of Isorhythmic Exultation! It is a rhythmic etude of the highest order, is incredibly idiomatic for the piano, and is a joy to practice and perform. Download your copy by clicking on the link below and add this remarkable work to your repertoire!

BUY THE SHEET MUSIC HERE: ⇒ Isorhythmic Exultation! ⇐