a little exercise book for felix sebastian otterbeck

a little exercise book for felix sebastian otterbeck


Surendran Reddy Performing Edition

Among the most extensive items of ‘teaching material’ that Reddy left is a manual of piano exercises called a little exercise book for felix sebastian otterbeck. The ‘little’ is an understatement: it is very long and on a par with (if not sometimes more virtuoso than) Hanon’s The Virtuoso Pianist or Fux’s Gradus ad Parnassum. Reddy refers to Hanon and Fux in an almost final print-out called a little exercise book for felix sebastian otterbeck or hanon reincarnated or the well behaved pianist or 7 gradus ad parnassum. Reddy worked on it during 2006 and 2007 and originally entitled the first exercise ‘Gym for Pianists’ – which it certainly is. He dedicated it to ‘Lieber Felix, Tut mir sehr SEHR leid, aber ich bin sehr stolz auf Dich. Luv Der (böse) Surendran [Dear Felix, I am very VERY sorry but I am very proud of you], which speaks highly to the pianistic achievements of Felix Otterbeck, who studied with Reddy for several years. ACE has used Reddy’s final Sibelius files of each of the seven exercises to compile the score, with slight changes made to formatting so that the music is not so cramped and pagination is continuous throughout.

Reddy wrote a long and valuable preface: zen and the art of piano technique, which is given in full below, with no changes made to the way in which Reddy wrote it except to correct the obvious typos. It is well worth studying as it offers extraordinary insight into the composer’s pianistic history, his approach to teaching, his thoughts about music generally, his vast knowledge, and his vision.

After the ‘preface’ come ‘Notes for introduction’, which remain notes, not written out in full. The exercises begin in C major and modulate through all the keys, and they are grouped into seven kinds of ‘drill’ for the hands, wrists and forearms. There are five-finger exercises, exercises in double thirds and 4-part chords, and finally, exercises for strengthening finger muscles especially of the 4th and 5th fingers, in which several fingers hold down keys while one other fingers play repeated notes. The sample on the right is from page one of exercise 2.