The Art of Piano Fingering

Expressive Fingerings (3)

Fingering in its musical context

A good understanding of the basic principles of fingering can greatly enhance our playing, and give us much more security and fluency. However, it is also fascinating to go beyond mere practical considerations to find fingerings which express clearly all the nuances of the music as well as our own musical personality. We need only look at the fingerings of pianist-composers such as Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninov, or the scores of great pianist-editors like Schnabel and Cortot, to see how a particular fingering can make or break a musical gesture or idea. Here we find the art of fingering at its greatest: fingering which exactly expresses every moment and nuance of the music as the composer intended.

No fingering can, or should, be chosen until we have a very clear image of the composer’s intentions for a particular passage. This involves looking at the general style and emotional content, the phrasing, articulation, rhythmic impulse, tempo, texture, melodic contour etc.

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