The C Chronicles - The Sound of Corona

The C Chronicles - The Sound of Corona

A project about the Corona Pandemic, sponsored by Neustart Kultur

How did the pandemic affect and change you personally? Or were you one of the few for whom it continued almost indiscriminately? I found this time to be drastic. 

That led me to a larger project. And I couldn't possibly do it alone. One of the most sensitive points was the lack of togetherness, the exchange. So it was clear to me that the musical time travel through the pandemic had to take place with other musicians. Originally planned as a live concert program, it ultimately became a studio project. 

Further information

Besides the Press release, there is a very nice article and a detailed interview about my new album The C Chronicles in the magazine The Punk Head and a short review in the Express newspaper.

Release video

The blog post is still being expanded

Album Cover The C Chronicles

"The C Chronicles" was composed, arranged and produced by Marcus Sukiennik. 

The development of the program, compositions and arrangements were made possible thanks to a grant "Neustart Kultur".

 The studio project was self-financed.

Electronic press kit

The C Chronicles Release Overview

  • The album "The C Chronicles" on streaming portals or for download
  • Release video
  • Notes

Familiar song form: classical-pop crossover in the piano bar 

Familiar song form: classical-pop crossover in the piano bar

The cliché of the egocentric composer who hangs over his sheet music in a quiet chamber, kissed by the muse and creating a new, unique masterpiece, persists to this day. What this image fails to mention, however, is that adaptations and variations of original and third-party compositions were also widespread in Bach's and Mozart's day.

For me, this is an essential core of making music: to exchange ideas, to enter into a dialogue. Besides composing my own pieces, I take great pleasure in writing arrangements of classical melodies or many a folk song.

My new release, the series Piano Classicsbrings together two spheres that, at first glance, have little in common: classical works from the Renaissance and Baroque periods and bar music. A classical-pop crossover, so to speak.

Song form and variation in music history

Let's go back in the history of music once again. Variation works and songs are among the oldest forms of music. The special thing is: songs connect all times - from Renaissance and Baroque to contemporary pop music. Music lives from the exchange and modification of existing motifs, it lives from the interrelation between form and opening. Variations shaped the practice of the old classical masters as well as that of musicians in blues and jazz and the remix culture in pop music.

The song form with its repetitive elements is firmly anchored in our culture; its simple structure and catchy melodies shape our listening habits from an early age.

Classical-Pop-Crossover: Bach, Rameau and Telemann in the Pianobar

In my career as a pianist, I have played my way through a diverse spectrum of classical piano literature and enriched my repertoire over the years with very different works by classical composers. This repertoire forms the starting point for my selection of arrangements of Piano Classics. Thus, although the song form is in the foreground here, not all pieces, which are based on Piano Classicsappear were composed by their original authors in the song form. Thus, some of the melodies also come from larger works, from whose context I have extracted them.

Piano Classics 1 already appeared in 2014 as CD. With this re-release you can now look forward to an especially good recording quality in High-Resolution Audio. The compilation includes arrangements by Johann Pachelbel, François Couperin, Georg Philipp Telemann and others. Some pieces are slightly altered, some quite considerably. For example, the song "Die Muse küsst zartbitter", an arrangement of Couperin's "La muse platine".

Piano Classics 2 then continues the classical-pop crossover in chronological order. Included are melodies by Jean-Philippe Rameau, J. S. Bach, George Frideric Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, among others.

By the way, you can also find some of the originals to the arrangements in my classical music series Living sound world listen

Music goes through the stomach

I usually play the pieces at the main dinner time in the piano bar of the Excelsior Hotel Ernst in Cologne. And the Piano Classics are also well received at the Piano Brunch. Although the original pieces are not familiar to most listeners, their translation into song form creates an atmosphere that is familiar and unobtrusively creates an ideal space for food and stimulating conversation.

Even classical concertgoers are usually more familiar with the orchestral pieces of the old masters and less with pieces from the piano literature. An exception is the song "Bach.a.rach", to be found on Piano Classics 2. This is an arrangement of the first minuet in G major from the little music book for Anna Magdalena Bach - a piece that almost everyone who has learned to play the piano has practiced at some point.

The most reactions can probably be caught during the "Country Shuffle March". This is not only reflected in many a rhythmic movement of the guests, even those present who merely walk past the piano bar run elatedly.

New releases in March and April

Piano Classics 1 will be released as a digital re-release in High-Resolution Audio on March 18, 2022. The initial release of Piano Classics 2 follows next month on 08.04.2022.

You can listen to both compilations on the most popular streaming platforms: 

Piano Classics 1 

Piano Classics 2

A continuation of the Piano Classics-series is planned, by the way. A little foretaste: Haydn, Schubert and Mendelssohn are some of the familiar names you will hear on Piano Classics 3 will find. With further arrangements of romantic pieces (including Grieg, Schumann and Chopin) also closes Piano Classics 4 chronologically to the series.

Stay healthy - and maybe see you at the Pianobar sometime soon.

Marcus Sukiennik

Album Cover Piano Classics 1

New releases in the month of March and April

  • Piano Classics 1 & 2 appear on the popular streaming portals
  • YouTube release video
  • Learning video (on the hands view)
  • Piano sheet music printed as music album (Piano Classics 1) and as PDF (both albums) in my store 
  • Leadsheet C part - melody with chord symbols - printed (Piano Classics 1) and as PDF (both albums)

Favourite pieces from classical and neoclassical music

Favourite pieces from classical and neoclassical music

There are these classic melodies that we encounter everywhere: in the café, as background music of a commercial, in waiting loops, as a ringtone. Catchy melodies that we never tire of hearing. From baroque catchy tunes like Bach's Prelude in C Major from the Well-Tempered Clavier to Yann Tiersen's film music for The Fabulous World of Amélie. Much played and much loved - that's what the pieces I'm releasing this fall in three new releases have in common.

This blog article today is about popular favorites, music and well-being, and catchy movie tunes. Among other things, it's about music that focuses on the piano in the classical tradition: so-called neoclassical music.

Classical music for the piano bar

When I play in the piano bar or at events, there are a handful of classical pieces that are always requested by guests. One of them is Beethoven's For Elise. To my amazement, there are also many young people who want this "oldie".

What is the fascination of these favorite pieces? On the one hand, it's their catchiness, which is recognizable, but also their emotional dimension, which lets you discover something new every time you hear them. I recently wrote an arrangement of a classic piece that fascinates me myself, which is now available as a digital release: Pachelbel's Canon in D. The piece for piano solo begins in the classical tradition, but develops into an airy, dreamy arrangement as it progresses.

Pioneers of neoclassicism

Which brings us to one of the keywords of neoclassicism: Because it often invites you to dream. With the release of my EP Beloved Piano Songs released the first single of a new series dedicated to popular tracks of the genre.

To kick things off, there are pieces from an early neoclassical milestone that continues to touch an international audience with its melancholic sounds 20 years after its release: Yann Tiersen's iconic soundtrack for The Fabulous World of Amélie. The music of the Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi, world famous for his film music to the popular anime of the production house Studio Ghibli, does something similar. For publication I have chosen and recorded his especially beautiful track Summer.

Pianist Marcus Sukiennik, classical and neoclassical music

What is neoclassicism?

The term neoclassicism was coined as a current by the music journalism of the 00s. However, it does not describe a fixed school, but rather a loose designation for a musical style that mixes elements of classical music with pop, jazz or even electronic music. The focus is clearly on a classical instrument: the piano.

Many of the neoclassical pieces are characterized by consonant harmonies and short repetitive segments of catchy melodies. It is about a very conscious reduction of compositional means. Names such as John Cage and Philip Glass, but also Eric Satie or Frédéric Chopin are therefore often mentioned as influencers.

Most neoclassical composers are also pianists. Among the best-known representatives of neoclassical music are Ludovico Einaudi, Max Richter, Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, Yann Tiersen, Jóhann Jóhannson and Yiruma. However, neoclassical music does not only include piano music; other instrumentalists are also active in this field. For example, the Icelandic cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir, whose film music for the film Joker 2019 Oscar winner, among others.

The neoclassical artists are sometimes celebrated like pop stars. Einaudi currently has 5.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify - the same number as Janet Jackson's listeners, for example.

Neoclassicism: Between Philharmonic and Pop

But why is neoclassicism now actually so popular and excites so many people? First of all, it is relatively simple. Minimalism and repetition make many neoclassical compositions catchy pieces that quickly seem familiar. They are often characterized by atmospheric sounds, they transport moods and are therefore particularly suitable as film music, among other things.

Nowadays, music is listened to even more often than in the past by many people, primarily for relaxation. In the office, during dinner, while doing housework, for example. Unobtrusive and atmospheric, neoclassical music gives you the space to perceive it pleasantly in the background or to engage with it completely and immerse yourself in it. In recent years, neoclassical artists have also been responsible for attracting new audiences to classical concert halls. It offers a new approach to people who might not otherwise have anything to do with classical music.

Incidentally, it is a fallacy that classical music was never background music during the lifetime of Beethoven and co - for it was also played at times for the amusement of the princely court. But it's also clear that neoclassical music is a genre that divides and is both celebrated and ridiculed. What do you think of neoclassical music?

New publications in autumn

My EP Classical music for the piano bar will be released on 08.10.21, the single Canon in D for Piano Solo shortly thereafter on 22 October. On 05 November the Beloved Piano Songs 1 - as always to be heard on all major music streaming portals.

Hope you all have a golden autumn and stay healthy.

Marcus Sukiennik

Album Cover EP Classic for the Piano Bar
Album Cover Canon in D
Album Cover EP Beloved Piano Songs 1

New releases autumn 2021

  • Release EP Classic for the Piano Bar on 08.10.2021
  • Release Canon in D on 22.10.2021
  • Release EP Beloved Piano Songs 1 on 05.11.2021
  • Piano sheet music Canon in D PDF in my shop

Piano literature for beginners and advanced students

Piano literature for beginners and advanced students

Zeitspiel & Pieces from the Notebook for A. M. Bach

Those who have followed one or another of my publications may already know: music history is my hobbyhorse. And it is above all the study of musical forms and currents from different times and genres that inspires me to create new compositions.

This is also true for my current project, which will be released this month - my piano school Zeitspiel. What is special about this piano school for beginners, I would like to tell you a little bit today.

In addition, more advanced piano players take note: If you want to slowly take the next step after the beginner's school, the little sheet music book for Anna Magdalena Bach might be something for you. Read more about it in this blog post.

Zeitspiel: A New Approach - or is it?

I wrote about piano literature for beginners earlier this summer. Namely about Béla Bartók's Microcosm and Klavier spielen – mein schönstes Hobby (Playing the piano - my most beautiful hobby) From Hans-Günther Heumann (to the article go to here).

As an experienced music teacher, I have been teaching piano to children, teenagers and adults for almost 30 years. I use a whole range of different teaching materials. In the mid-90s, I composed a few pieces of my own that provide beginners with an easy, fun introduction to the world of piano sounds. Now I am publishing them for the first time - in a fresh selection of over 100 short self-composed pieces under the name of Zeitspiel - a piano school with a unique approach.

Zeitspiel is a collection of easy pieces that are perfect for beginners. It's a bit different from many classical piano schools, because you won't find the typical finger exercises and etudes here. Instead, its focus is on introducing learners to the tonal variety of the instrument and discovering its different sound possibilities from the very beginning. In short: making music directly.

Because sounds beyond the usual major-minor system are rarely mentioned in the standard literature for beginners - and that is a pity. The teaching pieces from Zeitspiel therefore rely on a variety of tonal material that intuitively introduces beginners to musical compositional building blocks: From pentatonic and Order of the Tetrachord from compound church scales to jazz scales to completely newly created scales.

Also with regard to learning to read and play time signatures, I would like to help learners with Zeitspiel offer good, varied options. With a view over the edge of the otherwise often exclusively treated European music history.

Further teaching literature: The little sheet music book for A. M. Bach

Let's continue with a recommendation for students who are already a bit more advanced. It is certainly not an insider tip, but nevertheless a very beautiful, didactically valuable collection: The music books, which J. S. Bach gave to his wife Anna Magdalena, who was trained as a singer.

In the two surviving music books of 1722 and 1725, Bach wrote down numerous piano pieces in a wide variety of styles, two of which in particular are probably familiar to most people. Almost every piano learner should have practiced the minuets in G major and G minor at some point. The short pieces are particularly valuable for the training of coordination, i.e. the interplay of both hands.

Incidentally, the two minuets were not originally written by Bach himself, but from a harpsichord suite by the composer Christian Petzold. This was discovered by the musicologist Hans-Joachim Schulze in 1979. This is because the booklet of sheet music includes Bach's own compositions as well as piano pieces and song arrangements by other composers.

The short, filigree pieces from the little sheet music for A. M. Bach, with their dance-like character, are not only a joy for piano players, but also a real feast for the ears of listeners. I have now recorded 9 selected, particularly beautiful pieces of the classic in high-resolution audio - they will soon be released as a small best-of.

Piano lessons in Cologne

You would like to take piano lessons? Also during the Corona pandemic I give piano lessons in my 36 sqm studio in Cologne-Mühlheim (of course with distance and considering the hygienic measures) or on request online. For self-study I also produce music videos for listening, watching and learning. Have a look at my Teaching page and my Youtube channel over.

New publications in the month of August, September

My Piano School Zeitspiel published as a digital music book with accompanying recording on 20.08.21. The most beautiful pieces from the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach Out 10.09.21 Listen to my releases: on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and Co.

Have a great summer and stay healthy.

Marcus Sukiennik

  • both albums can be heard on the big streaming portals
  • Video New Releases August/September 2021
  • The music album Zeitspiel will soon be available in my shop
  • The piano sheet music from the music booklet is published for example by Schott Verlag

Béla Bartók's Microcosm

Valuable piano schools for beginners: Béla Bartók's Mikrokosmos & Playing the Piano - My Most Beautiful Hobby

Béla Bartók's Microcosm

In addition to my work as a composer and bar pianist, I have been teaching piano to children, teenagers and adults for 28 years. Among the abundance of textbooks, the question always arises for beginners: Which piano school is the right one for me?
I can't and don't want to give an answer to that here, but today in this blog post I will deal with a very extraordinary piano school, Béla Bartók's Microcosm.

My latest releases, which will be released on 18 June and 2 July respectively, are this time dedicated to all learners. For all those who want to play the piano, I have recorded two particularly instructive piano schools as learning aids, which are now available for re-listening on Spotify & Co: Volume 1 of Bartók's Microcosm and Hans-Günther Heumann's introductory work Klavier spielen – mein schönstes Hobby (Playing the piano - my most beautiful hobby). Because reading music and hitting the right notes is not everything in the beginning - it is also important to develop an idea of the sound of the instrument.

What Bartók's Microcosm and what role, among other things, peasant music plays in this, is what this article is about.

Béla Bartók and the peasant music

Belá Bartók is today considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century. Born in 1881 in a small town in Romania, then Austria-Hungary, he first received piano lessons from his mother and later studied piano and composition in Budapest. He became known, among other things, for incorporating elements of folk music into the art of classical composition, thus creating a new style all his own.

At the age of 24, Bartók began systematically collecting and researching folk songs, or "peasant music" as he called it. To this end, he undertook numerous excursions to remote areas of Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and beyond. For peasant music had not been written down and until then had only been passed down orally. Together with his friend Zoltán Kodály, Bartók set out for remote villages and landscapes equipped with phonographs and wax rollers. During his travels he collected more than 9,000 melodies from different cultures, which he analysed and partly published.

"My real idea, however, is the fraternization of peoples, a fraternization despite all war and strife. I try to serve this idea in my music; that is why I do not withdraw from any influence, even if it comes from Slovak, Romanian, Arab or any other source.."
Béla Bartók, 1931

For Bartók, peasant music with its church and pentatonic keys also meant an emancipation from the major-minor tonality prevalent at the time and the possibility of creating a new modern music from it without resorting to twelve-tone music.

A microcosm for piano beginners

Bartók taught his son the piano at his request - and it was to this son that he dedicated the first issues of the Microcosm. Six volumes comprise the pedagogical work, which is arranged in increasing difficulty: from easy exercises for beginning lessons to virtuoso character pieces for advanced pianists. The short pieces of the Microcosm153 in all, were created over a period of 12 years, between 1925 and 1938.

In contrast to most piano schools the Microcosm to general theoretical or technical introductions. Thus it contains a varied mixture of preliminary exercises, short compositions, pieces for technical practice as well as musical phenomena and character pieces.

Each of the pieces has a specific, well thought-out task. The focused theme can often already be gathered from the title, e.g. dotted notes, syncopations,
Parallel movement, change of register, Dorian or Phrygian key. In the Microcosm Bartók deals with elementary compositional means, and there is even polyphony in the first volume. Especially in the use of church keys and sometimes unusual meters, clear influences of the peasant music of southeastern Europe can be heard. Bartók has thus created an exciting work of instruction that has lost none of its modernity to this day.

Playing the piano - my most beautiful hobby

by Hans-Günter Heumann, published by Schott Verlag

Admittedly, not everyone finds direct access to Bartók's piano school. It is and remains a matter of taste, of course. A valuable and tonally more conventional alternative is also offered by Hans-Günter Heumann's Beginners' School Playing the piano - my most beautiful hobby. This classic of German-language piano literature is aimed at young and adult beginners with varied exercises as well as pieces from classical and pop music (also beyond the classical beginner pieces in five-tone space!).

Learn piano with lessons

You would like to learn the piano? Also during the Corona pandemic I give piano lessons in my 36 sqm studio in Cologne - with distance and hygienic measures or online. I also produce music videos for listening, watching and learning. Have a look at my Teaching page or my Youtube channel over.

New releases in June & July

The recordings of Microcosm (Volume 1) and Playing the piano - my most beautiful hobby (Volume 1) will be released on 18.06. and 02.07.2021. You can listen to both releases on the big streaming platforms like AppleMusic, Deezer and Spotify.

  • both albums can be heard on the big streaming portals
  • Video New Releases June/July 2021
  • The piano sheet music has been published by Boosey & Hawks Verlag (Mikrokosmos) and Schott Verlag (Playing the piano - my most beautiful hobby)

The German national anthem - former imperial song

The German national anthem - former imperial song

In this blog post, you can expect:
    ▪ the genesis of the German national anthem
    ▪ Further links and a video to watch and learn from
    ▪ various sheet music for the German National Anthem for free download

Emperor Franz and the Song of the Germans

The German national anthem has a long history. The music was composed as early as 1797 by Joseph Haydn. The title: "God keep Franz, the emperor". No, not Franz Beckenbauer, but Franz II, the last emperor of the German Empire.

The text goes back to a poem by Hoffmann von Fallersleben: the "Song of the Germans". Remaining in the current version of the Federal Republic of Germany only the third verse.

Joseph Haydn and the musical genesis of the German National Anthem with melody and notes

Joseph Haydn or Franz Joseph Haydn is a famous composer from the era of the Viennese classics and lived from 1732-1809.

Haydn's autograph "God save Franz the Emperor"

In the 18th century, a number of hymns were composed. One of the most important was the hymn "God Save The Queen", whose melody enjoyed great popularity and was used for other hymns, including the imperial anthem of the German Empire. It was in this context that the idea was born, Emperor Francis II to dedicate a song of his own.

Haydn's melody of the imperial song "Gott erhalte Franz, den Kaiser", later also that of the German national anthem, carries elements of a Croatian dance, a piece by Michael Haydn and a rondo by Telemann. Joseph Haydn also created a noteworthy variation work on the melody in his Kaiserquartett.

"God save Franz, the Emperor" Notation Marcus Sukiennik

Here the Kaiserlied as download in my notation:

Video recommendation on the genesis of the German anthem

Very beautifully described is the origin of the German national anthem in this Video, with many music examples. The video can be seen on Youtube. Embedding is not allowed. Therefore please follow the link.

Video Melody German National Anthem

Below is a video to watch and check out:

  • Melody German National Anthem in C major - white keys only!

Hoffmann von Fallersleben and the genesis of the text of the German National Anthem

The text of the German national anthem was written by a lyricist and poet who was very much connected to music: August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben (1798-1874).

He created 550 children's songs, some of which he even set to music, such as folk and fatherland songs. Among his most famous song lyrics:

   ▪ All the birds are already here
    ▪ The cuckoo and the donkey
    ▪ Tomorrow Santa Claus comes

The lyrics of the German National Anthem are:

Unity and justice and freedom
for the German fatherland!
Let us all strive for that,
fraternally with heart and hand!
Unity and justice and freedom
are the pledge of happiness:
Bloom in the splendour of this happiness,
flourish, German fatherland!

It is only the third stanza of the "Lied der Deutschen". The poems come from the very political "unpolitical songs", which owe their name to the circumstance to remain as undetected as possible from the state organs and to escape censorship.

The liberal-minded Hoffmann von Fallersleben advocated a unified Germany and gives expression to this in the Lied der Deutschen . The first stanza, beginning with "Germany, Germany above all" is to be seen in this light.

Download the melody and lyrics of the German National Anthem here:

"German National Anthem" Sheet Music: Melody & Lyrics

Melody and lyrics of the German national anthem for download

Inspired by the 2006 World Cup in Germany, I had the desire to write my own arrangement of the German national anthem. The everyday life has taken me then first of all again in occupation. Fortunately, the big football tournaments take place every two years.

In 2008, for the European Football Championship in Austria and Switzerland, the time had come: My version of the German national anthem for piano solo was created. For the next European Championship, 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, I published the music for the first time - as a download track. A few weeks ago, for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, I released the anthem as a CD single and sheet music for piano.

Download track German National Anthem

Piano sheet music German national anthem and CD single

Here it goes to the CD single and the Piano sheet music my piano version of the German National Anthem in my store.

"German National Anthem" Piano Sheet Music Marcus Sukiennik

Update on the 100th anniversary of the German national anthem

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the German National Anthem, I have re-recorded my arrangement and released it today, Sept. 30, 2022 on the popular streaming platforms. 

Album-Cover Deutsche Nationalhymne (2022)
Album cover German national anthem (2022)

Live pianist

My name is Marcus Sukiennik. I work as a pianist in upscale hotels and piano bars. In addition, I play at events of all kinds, whether corporate events or private parties.