With the piano taking center stage in the salons and living rooms of the 19th century, music became a widely accepted form of home entertainment. Realizing the full sonorities and orchestral potential of the instrument, it was also a way to actively make and hear music that would otherwise not be accessible. Reductions of chamber music and orchestral works allowed musicians and their audiences to experience a broad range of music. And when two people sit at one instrument sharing space and often the same notes, the interactive side of music making is elevated to a physical level. Composers ranging from Schubert and Brahms and from Rachmaninoff to Debussy made various piano 4 hands arrangements of their own music. Although J.S. Bach also produced a number of arrangements, the time had not yet come to explore the full potential of the piano. As such, a substantial number of composers and performers have taken up this delightful and satisfying task.
PERSONAL NOTE:I was first introduced to multi-hand piano duets at my Steinway Welcome Party in Bussum, Netherlands. There were many pianists and two pianos. 4 pianists on 2 pianos. 3 pianists on one piano. One can imagine the possibilities.
Dr. Hughes (bio at bottom of page) has written 100piano ensemble compositions and arrangements for 1 piano 4 hands, 2 pianos 4 hands, 1 piano 6 hands, 2 pianos 8 hands, 2 pianos 12 hands, 4 pianos 16 hands, 4 pianos 8 hands, 4 pianos 24 hands and 8 pianos 16 hands, which have been performed widely by faculty and student ensembles in 58 countries. See below for MIDI files and prices:
Dr. Walden Hughes was one of three United States music teachers awarded the 1995 \"Master Teacher Certificate\" by the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA). Dr. Hughes has published over 75 articles and reviews in national and international music journals. He holds five degrees in music, including two in piano performance and one each in piano pedagogy, music history and literature, and music theory. Dr. Hughes teaches piano, music history, composition and counterpoint at Northwest Nazarene University, where he has served for the past 34 years. He also founded and arranges music for the NNU Piano Ensembles.
English refers to the practice as \"four-hand(s),\" as in Sonata for Piano Four Hand, or, simply, four-hand music; German renders it \"four-handed,\" which doesn't parse well in literal translation. Either way, \"vierhandig\" nowadays conjures up something quaint--or, better, archaic, which, precisely, is Adorno's point, exclaimed in sadness. Standard piano music involves two hands; since the convention is well established, hands aren't mentioned on title pages. Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand rightly insists on drawing attention to its notably exceptional self-limitation. Otherwise, it's only when more hands are added that hands get counted. More hands than two were often called for in the past, sometimes performing on multiples of the same instrument. Conversely, a few composers, while sticking to one keyboard, increased the players beyond the conventional upper limit of two--W. F. E. Bach: three players/six hands; Cecile Chaminade (1857-1944): four players/eight hands--presumably attached to small bodies sitting on an extended bench, each set of hands responsible for only a couple of octaves.
In compositions involving more than one instrument, it's the specific excess of keyboards that gets title-page mention, not the additional hands required to realize the music. For a long time, duets for two keyboard instruments were quite common, reaching their apogee of popularity during the course of the nineteenth century. But as early as the eighteenth century the odd composer experimented with keyboards beyond two, though the results didn't add up to much more than being \"worth the try.\" The best-known examples are by Bach: his concertos for two, three, and even four harpsichords. He went for two harpsichords three times, three harpsichords twice, and four once: clearly diminishing returns--the only logical move for five in this progression was zero. And in the good American tradition, according to which too much is nowhere near enough, there were Gottschalk's so-named monster concerts staged in Rio in 1869, one of which involved sixteen pianos and thirty-one pianists. (These monstrous events, together with malaria, proved to be the death of him.) (1)
The piano extravaganza is an event we do every other year, focusing on literature that includes the piano in various ensemble arrangementspiano duets, duos, trios and quartets, said Sheila Litke, professor of piano. This year we are even doing a piece with one piano and 12 hands. 59ce067264