A short introduction:
Piano four hands is a type of piano duet in which the two players play on a single piano.
A duet with the players playing separate instruments is generally referred to as a piano duo. Music written for piano four hands is usually printed so that the part for each player occupies the page which is directly opposite to him. The upper part, for the pianist sitting on the right and with the music on the right side of the page, is called primo, while the lower part, for the pianist on the left, is called secondo.
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
F-minor Fantasy (one piano-4hands)
The Fantasia in F minor by Franz Schubert, D.940 for piano four-hands is one of Schubert’s most important works for more than one pianist and one of his most important piano works altogether. Schubert composed it in 1828, the last year of his life, and dedicated it to his pupil, Karoline Esterházy. Musicologist Christopher Gibbs has characterized the work as "among not only his greatest but his most original" compositions for piano duet.The basic idea of a fantasia with four connected movements also appears in Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy, and represents a stylistic bridge between the traditional sonata form and the essentially free-form tone poem.
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
En blanc et noir (2 pianos)
In addition to his numerous duo-piano arrangements, Debussy wrote two of his own works for two pianos: Lindaraja is considered a warm-up to his masterpiece in this form,
En blanc et noir (In black and white).
The composer wrote of En blanc et noir that the movements "derive their color and feeling merely from the sonority of the piano." Debussy insisted the work was not a comment on the first World War, but since virtually all of his correspondence from this period indicates a near obsession with the subject, it's hard to image the music is just about the piano. In fact, the title's coy reference to the colors of the piano keys could be heard as a double entendre, perhaps commenting on the abject ghastliness Debussy saw in war. The movements' titles and the recognizable musical associations in the work suggest that this is the case. The central movement bears a dedication to the memory of a French army officer who had recently been killed in action, and there is no mistaking the music's suggestions of distant bugle calls and quiet military drum rhythms.
The first movement opens with a layering of contrapuntal figures that rain down exuberant hopefulness, then devolves into a jagged, martial motif. The two ideas push against each other, becoming more and more compressed and ultimately fusing into a giant C-major chord. The middle movement depicts a profound sense of loss through long spaces of silence; long, still, low chords; a quiet, single-voice motive; and a high-register chime reminiscent of a distant drum beat. This movement's central section, more extroverted and noble, quotes liberally the familiar Lutheran chorale Ein feste Burg (A mighty fortress) over the rubble and chaos of dissonant harmonies and rumbling bass patterns. The last, dedicated to Stravinsky, brings together the variety of textures and motives employed in the first two movements, delving at last into the rich possibilities of the piano with a black-and-white purity of musical expression.
Thomas Beijer 1988*
Ballade (2 pianos)
Thomas Beijer (1988) is a young pianist and composer praised for his excellent technique and artistic integrity. A clear and profound musical insight is evident in his performances and compositions. Born and based in The Netherlands, Thomas Beijer enrolled at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, where he studied with Jan Wijn. By winning the prestigious Young Pianist Foundation National Piano Competition in 2007, Thomas Beijer positioned himself at the top of a new generation of pianists in The Netherlands.
Dieter Mack 1954*
"Fruechte" (2 pianos)
German composer of mostly orchestral, chamber, choral, and piano works that have been performed throughout Asia, Europe and North America; he is also active as a musicologist. Prof. Mack studied composition with Brian Ferneyhough and Klaus Huber, at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg in Freiburg im Breisgau from 1975–80. He has lectured on improvisation, music from Bali and music theory at music academies in Basel, Freiburg im Breisgau and Trossingen since 1980 and at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg in Freiburg im Breisgau. Moreover, he has taught as a guest professor in postgraduate composition at the Institut Seni Indonesia Surakarta – Indonesian Institute of the Arts, Surakarta since 1999. He later gave masterclasses in New Zealand in 2004, in the USA in 2006–07 and in China in 2007–08 and taught composition at the Ferienkurse in Darmstadt in 2006.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
The Sonata for Two Pianos in D major, K. 448 is a work composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1781, when he was 25. It is written in strict sonata-allegro form, with three movements. Mozart composed this in the galant style, with interlocking melodies and simultaneous cadences. This is one of his few compositions written for two pianos. This sonata was also used in the scientific study that tested the theory of the Mozart effect, suggesting that classical music increases brain activity more positively than other kinds of music.
Sonata KV 448 for two pianos