Urtext Editions

Question: In your opinion, which are the best urtext editions with regards to fingering, paper quality, critical commentary, etc.? Thank you, Marcel (Ireland) Albert’s reply: First, it’s essential to point out that there is no such thing as a true “Urtext” edition. I’ll explain a bit what an Urtext is before giving my personal recommendations for the standard piano literature. The meaning of “Urtext” The German prefix “Ur-” means “original” or “authentic,” as in the original version of something. Read more »

Deck the Halls Sheet Music

Question: How do we know which chords to use in Deck the Halls in key of C? Albert’s reply: I’ve created a simple arrangement and have made the “Deck the Halls” sheet music available for free download as a small gift to key-notes readers. (Just click the link to download!) The rules for harmonizing a melody take years to master, but I’ve come up with simple rules that will allow you to get it right most of the time. Read more »

Für Elise Sheet Music

By popular demand, key-notes is offering the Für Elise sheet music for free download! This special, professionally typeset edition has been prepared just for key-notes visitors. Simply click this link to download the Für Elise sheet music. About the Music The German title Für Elise simply means “For Elise”: Not only is Für Elise not even the piece’s official title, but music historians are not even sure Beethoven ever knew an Elise! Read more »

Happy Birthday Sheet Music

By very popular request, key-notes is happy to offer the Happy Birthday sheet music for free download! This no-frills arrangement is easily accessible and suitable for early intermediate pianists. “Happy Birthday” was originally a children’s song called “Good Morning to All.” It was written in 1893 by sisters Patty and Mildred Hill, two kindergarten teachers in Louisville, Kentucky. The “Happy Birthday” lyrics, however, may have been composed by a group of kindergarten students, although their authorship is still unknown. Read more »

Moonlight Sonata Sheet Music

key-notes is pleased to present a beautiful new edition of Beethoven’s beloved “Moonlight” Sonata. The first movement, available for free download, was edited by Albert Frantz directly from the manuscript and first edition and beautifully typeset using professional music notation software. Simply click the link to download the “Moonlight” Sonata sheet music. About the Music The work’s actual title is simply Sonata in C-sharp minor… Beethoven never actually used the famous nickname when referring to the sonata. Read more »

The Entertainer Sheet Music

key-notes is pleased to offer The Entertainer sheet music for free download! Composed in 1902 by ragtime pioneer Scott Joplin, The Entertainer is among the most popular ragtime pieces ever written. Simply click the link to download the Entertainer sheet music! About the Music Born in Texas in 1867, Joplin’s father was a newly freed slave from North Carolina and his mother a free-born African American. Theirs was a musical family, and the young Joplin’s improvisational talent soon became evident. Read more »

Bach Prelude in C

One of the most popular pieces among piano lovers, Bach’s Prelude in C major (BWV 846) is also a prelude to the Well-Tempered Clavier as a whole. It started out life as an exercise for Bach’s son Wilhelm Friedemann Bach: This manuscript is in the hand of the young Wilhelm Friedemann, except for the final four measures and the two chords at the bottom (circled), which are in Johann Sebastian Bach’s handwriting. Read more »

Beyond Urtext Editions

Question: Hello Albert, I read with great interest your articles about Urtext Editions and Music Notation. I’ve been playing the piano for most of my life and am pursuing an interest in the various editions of piano literature. You have obviously done quite a bit of research on this topic. My question is this—are there any sources that talk about the various editions and their strengths and weaknesses, or is it really a matter of reviewing the literature and coming to your own conclusions? Read more »

Christmas Piano Music

This holiday, I endeavored to compile a list of Christmas piano music by the great composers. The task turned out to be much more difficult than I had anticipated: Bach wrote a famous Christmas Oratorio (for orchestra and choir), Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov composed a whole opera titled Christmas Eve, Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote a Fantasia on Christmas Carols (also for orchestra)… but Christmas piano music was almost nowhere to be found! Read more »

Free Piano Chords

In response to popular demand, key-notes is happy to add Free Piano Chords to its growing list of free resources. (It should go without saying that these and any other piano chord diagrams should be used only as a temporary aid to learning music theory and for occasional reference, not as cheat sheets!) The Free Piano Chord Chart contains the major, minor, diminished and augmented triads, as well as dominant, diminished, minor and major seventh chords. Read more »