Previous Issue: February Student Page

100-day Challenge

Keep working on your practice charts. You can still do this challenge.
Start at any time! Download this chart or make your own.

100 Day Challenge PDF

Students who have completed the 100-day practice chart

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Composer of the month

Hector Berlioz


Symphonie fantastique performed by the Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France conducted by Myung-Whun Chung.

Harold en Italie, performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, featuring Antoine Tamestit on viola.

Roman Carnival Overture performed by the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011. Notice the unusual use of the English horn in a solo.

Les nuits d’été, Op 7, or Summer Nights. This is a song cycle which he later wrote with piano accompaniment and later wrote an orchestral version. Here it is sung by Joyce DiDonato accompanied by the brass of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.


Pianist Profile

Rosina Lhévinne


Rosina Lhévinne (performing live in 1955) Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A Major with the Juilliard String Quartet

Rosina Lhévinne playing Chopin’s Concerto No. 1 in E minor Op. 11 in 1961

Josef and Rosina Lhévinne playing Mozart Sonata for Two Pianos K.448

A rare recording by Josef Lhévinne in 1920 of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in G minor, Op. 23, No. 5.


The Viola

Robert Schumann’s Märchenbilder or Fairy Tale Pictures, for Piano and Viola, Op. 113, performed by Tabea Zimmermann on viola and Christian Ihle Hadland on piano.

Brahms’ Sonata in E flat, Op.120 No.2 (​1. Allegro amabile) performed by Timothy Ridout on viola and Anthony Hewitt on piano.

All about the viola with Nicholas Bootiman of the London Philharmonia Orchestra.

Listen to the sound of a Stradivari viola. Antonio Stradivari made some of the finest string instruments ever in the 1600s. Today these violins, violas and cellos are highly prized (and very expensive) for their beautiful sounds. Today there about 650 surviving Stradivarius violins, about 63 cellos, and only 11 violas. In 2014, they tried to sell this viola for $45 million dollars but nobody was willing to pay that much! A strad violin sold a few years ago for nearly $16 million!

Enjoy the deep, rich sound of the viola on this cover of “Let It Go” from Frozen.

A beautiful viola cover by Jeremy Green of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.”

2021 Composition Contest


  The theme for the 2021 contest is Life on a Farm. Write a composition that has something to do with life on a farm. It could describe a farm animal or animals, planting, growing, or harvesting, storms, or anything else that inspires you that is related to a farm. Your music could describe a specific event or thing, tell a story, or just create a mood.
  You must write a few sentences to describe your music. Entries will be divided into two divisions: ages 10 and under and 11 and up. Results will be announced in the May/June issue. You must subscribe to Piano Explorer to enter the contest. Check the rules below carefully. Good luck!

Contest Rules

Deadline: March 5, 2021
Note: the post office is very slow this winter. Be sure to send your piece early or send it by fax.

1. You or your teacher must subscribe to Piano Explorer. (If your teacher subscribes, he or she must have as many subscriptions as students who have entered.) Students must be 18 years or younger.

2. Only solo piano music will be considered for prizes.

3. Write your name, age, address, phone number, and teacher’s name on the back of the music.

4. All compositions must be written by students. Parents and teachers may help write down the notes. Music can be handwritten or you may use a computer program.

5. Do not quote other pieces of music in your composition. You must also include the signed statement on p. 8 or download this pdf to participate.

6. Keep a copy for yourself. We cannot return music.

7. All submissions must be postmarked or faxed by the deadline, March 5, 2021. We are not responsible for pieces that are delayed in the mail.

8. Last year’s first-prize winners may not enter this year.

9. Drawings are encouraged, but not required.

10. Fax or mail entries only. Please no emails!

11. Make sure to compose music specifically to the topic. Don’t just add a title to a composition you already have.

12. You must include a description (at least a few sentences long) that explains how the music represents the contest theme. This is NOT optional.

Send your compositions to:

Piano Explorer
Composition Contest
1838 Techny Court, Northbrook, IL 60062

Fax: 847-446-6263

Do not send via email

Be sure to draw a picture to go with your music.