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Avalanche

Avalanche (L'Avalanche) is a solo piano work by the romantic-era composer Stephen Heller (1813-1888). Hungarian by birth, he moved to Paris in 1838, where he made the acquaintance of many composers of the time, among them Berlioz, Chopin, and Liszt. Surprisingly enough, in the area of sheer mastery of the instrument, he was considered to be superior to even the likes of Felix Mendelssohn.

His reputation as pianist and composer was largely made on his use of melody and poetry, something enthusiastically received in the budding romanticism of music at the time. A large portion of his compositional activity consisted of studies (études), a number of which (Avalanche among them) remain popular for student use to this day. Not that these are necessarily simple or elementary pieces of uniform character; they range from variations to character pieces, fantasies, and even opera transcription. This isn't surprising when one looks over the works of this man and sees everything from German Lieder to tone-poems with tantalizing titles that hint at what we would call "tone poems" in the romantic genre.

L’Avalanche, perhaps the most widely-known of these pieces, is a colorful, rhythmic depiction of cascading snow in rapid descent down a mountain. As you play these descending passages, think of both the lightness of the snow as it comes down—and the power it can harness when it's propelled by gravity and unimpeded by any obstacles. The piece shouldn't be rushed, but should contain unmistakable energy and crisp rhythms to do the picture of an Avalanche justice via the keyboard.



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Avalanche Piano sheet music