"La campanella" (Italian for "The little bell") is the subtitle given to the third of Franz Liszt's six Grandes études de Paganini, S. 141 (1851). It is in the key of G-sharp minor.



"La campanella" is a revision of an earlier version from 1883, the Études d'exécution transcendente d'après Paganini, S. 140, and is widely considered one of the most technically challenging piano pieces ever written. Its melody comes from the final movement of Niccolò Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 2 in B minor, where the tune was reinforced by a "little handbell." This is illustrated by the large intervals of sixteenth notes in the right hand.[1][2][3]


Incipit for "La campanella" by Franz Liszt (Grandes études de Paganini S. 141 no. 3)

The étude is played at a gentle, brisk allegretto tempo and features constant octave hand jumps between intervals larger than one octave, sometimes even stretching for two whole octaves within the time of a sixteenth note. As a whole, the étude can be practiced to increase dexterity and accuracy at large jumps on the piano, along with agility of the weaker fingers of the hand and muscles within the forearm and wrist. The largest intervals reached by the right hand are fifteenths (two octaves) and sixteenths (two octaves and a second). Sixteenth notes are played between the two notes, and the same note is played two octaves or two octaves and a second higher with little (depending on the arrangement) no rest. Little time is provided for the pianist to move the hand, thus forcing the pianist to avoid tension within the muscles. Fifteenth intervals are quite common in the beginning of the étude, while the sixteenth intervals appear twice, at the first thirtieth and thirty-second measures.

The two red notes are 35 half-steps apart (~46cm apart on a piano.)

However, the left hand studies about four extremely large intervals, larger than those in the right hand. For example, in bar 101, the left hand makes a sixteenth-note jump of just a half-step below three octaves. The étude also involves other technical difficulties, e.g. trills with the fourth and fifth fingers starting on measure 80 and lasting for 4 bars, and fast chromatic scales starting on measure 73.



The work of Franz Liszt has been arranged by other composers and pianists, most notably Ferruccio Busoni[4] and Marc-André Hamelin.

Derivative works


In September 2022, La Campanella was sampled as part of the instrumental for the song "Shut Down" by South Korean girl group Blackpink.[5][6] The song is in the key of B-flat minor.


  1. ^ Ben Arnold, The Liszt Companion, 2002, p. 101: " By far, the most performed of these studies is the revised version of La campanella with its engaging wide leaps, ..."
  2. ^ Alan Walker, Reflections on Liszt, 2005, p. 30: "The five Paganini caprices, plus a free arrangement of "La campanella" which also appeared in 1838, later formed the six Études d'exécution transcendente d'après Paganini. "
  3. ^ editor Richard Taruskin, Oxford History of Western Music, 5-book set, 2009: "Besides a streamlined version of La campanella, the set included five of Paganini's Caprices freely transcribed, including two of these given above in Ex. 5–1a. Liszt's versions are shown in Ex. 5–5."
  4. ^ Busoni, Ferruccio (1923). Klavierübung in 10 Büchern, Vol. 10 (in German). Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel. pp. 26–43.
  5. ^ 기자, 윤상근. "블랙핑크 'Shut Down' 기막힌 라 캄파넬라 샘플링 힙합 FLEX[12시★카페]". n.news.naver.com (in Korean). Retrieved 2024-04-05.
  6. ^ Suacillo, Angela Patricia (2022-09-16). "BLACKPINK drop fierce music video for lead single 'Shut Down'". NME. Retrieved 2024-04-05.