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A brief report from the Empty Quarter

Carl Czerny in Edmonton, by GORDON RUMSON


Quite a few years ago an author divided North America into several sections: The Rust Belt (Eastern US), Quebec, TexMex, The Confederacy, the Lunatic Fringe (guess where) and the Empty Quarter. This last included the vast, sparsely populated, resource-rich area of the north central plains and stretching into the Arctic. Almost in the middle of it is the capital of the province of Alberta: Edmonton. A city of almost 900,000, it is a thriving community with a vibrant resource-based economy and vivid cultural life. The Fringe Festival of theatrical events in August is one of the most important in Canada. Culture does indeed exist outside London, Paris and New York.

Edmonton is also the home of the first ever festival of the music of the Austrian composer Carl Czerny (1791-1857). The brainchild and passion of the internationally renowned pianist Anton Kuerti, the event, which took place 13-16 June 2002, was six concerts of a composer best known as a pedagogue and writer of études. Thousands of études, let it be remembered. Thousands! Indeed, the pianist Egon Petri once said Czerny wrote all of those studies because he hated children.

The world's first Carl Czerny Music Festival and International Symposium. Anton Kuerti, Artistic Director

I cannot comment on his relationship with children, but Czerny has always interested me. The student of Beethoven and teacher of Liszt, how could such a man have been a mere mechanical nincompoop churning out thousands of pages of dry as dust études intent only on stifling the eager piano student?

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Copyright © 5 July 2002 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada



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