Four-hand piano playing allowed an intimacy that was unusual in 19th-century Europe, says German studies professor Adrian Daub, who explores the cultural history of the performance technique in a new book. In 19th-century Europe – long before LPs, CDs or mp3s – there were only two ways to listen to, say, the latest Beethoven symphony: either you were lucky enough to hear it performed at the local concert hall, or you played it at home yourself. Not with a full orchestra, of course, but in a piano transcription, an arrangement that compressed symphonic violins, oboes and tubas onto a single keyboard score. Using a range of musical and literary sources, Daub’s study is the first to examine the cultural valences of this strikingly intimate tradition. Drawing from novels, memoirs and letters, Daub’s survey reveals, for instance, how 19th-century anxieties surrounding creativity, industrialization, sex, virtue and politics were exercised through the act of four-hand piano playing. Heather Hadlock, associate professor of music at Stanford, sees Daub’s study as an important contribution to music scholarship.
Daub’s study, however, is the first step toward rectifying this oversight, revealing how four-hand piano duets in the 19th century resounded far beyond the parlor. As pianos became increasingly affordable over the course of the century, more and more middle-class families made the instrument a centerpiece of domestic life.
Well-versed in both music and literature, Daub amassed a staggering number of allusions to four-hand playing from 19th-century sources. From William Thackeray to Charles Dickens to Thomas Mann, four-hand playing makes appearances in famous novels of the period. In large part, Daub said, the popularity of the activity was driven by the romantic undertones of four-hand playing. Four-hand playing, though, also had a dark side: the erotic possibilities created when fingers touched, bodies sidled and harmony was made. Composers, well aware of the situation, took advantage of the forced intimacy by crafting pieces that caused the hands to overlap and interlock, generating as much contact as possible.
Daub quotes novelist William Thackeray, who wrote of a “pretty little duet a quatre mains, where the hands cross over, and hop up and down the keys, and the heads get so close, so close.


At the same time, literary treatments of four-hand playing projected notions of propriety and virtue.
Four-hand playing also emerged as a potent political symbol because of the collaboration and unity inherent in the practice. But by the time Moldenhauer extolled its virtues, the practice was quickly losing popularity. Nate Sloan is a doctoral candidate in musicology and writes about the humanities at Stanford. 2 Pianos 4 Hands, the global smash hit about two boys who dream about becoming — what else? Quantity (prints): 123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233343536373839404142434445464748495051525354555657585960616263646566676869707172737475767778798081828384858687888990919293949596979899(You can remove it later)Did you buy this item?
Two Can Play, a newly formed piano ensemble, performs (free of charge) at Seniorsa€™ Residences, throughout the Lower Mainland of Vancouver. While solo piano playing never went out of style, the increased musical range and social interaction offered by four-hand playing caught on. Daub cites a telling passage in Dickens’s David Copperfield to comment on how four-hand piano playing reflected such social mores. The practice continues today (all of the Stanford scholars quoted in this article are four-hand players), but people no longer attach as much interest to it.
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Your browser needs to have Javascript enabledin order to display this page correctly.Please activate it now then refresh this pageor Contact Us for further help. Four-hand piano reductions of symphonic and opera scores were the way they could bring the magic of the concert hall to the parlor of a private residence, via a couple of talented players.Even today, however, when most of us have opportunities to hear orchestras and opera companies a lot more easily, piano four-hand music is still popular. Because the repertoire consists of familiar classical and popular music, arranged for four hands at one piano.


Two members of an 1845 Arctic expedition are ditched by their shipmates when their ships become trapped in ice. These indoor facilities offer year-round opportunities for downhill speed demons in the GTA. The tone of these titles suggests what, indeed, did eventually happen: piano four-hand music became thought of, for a time, as simple entertainment.
People didn't have to be instrumental masters to play it; in fact, the Style Galant became so accessible that it turned into background music for partiesa€”the earliest known "Muzak"!This changed with compositions from Haydn, who wrote a series of duets largely to keep his "hand in" (no pun intended) while teaching piano students at the same time. Charles Burneya€”who dabbled in music composition as wella€”published a series of pieces entitled, Four Sonatas or Duets for Two performers on One Piano Forte or Harpsichord. Then, a young composer named Mozart came along with his piano duetsa€¦and the rest (once again, no pun intended) was history.But today, when we have unlimited access to music of all sorts, it might be puzzling why piano duet (four-hands) music is still so popular. If you've ever sat on the bench making music of this kind with a friend, you know this; if you haven't, once you try it, you might just want to do more of it. Another reason is that, due to composers' attention to this medium, there is high-qualitya€”and in some cases highly demandinga€”four-hand music out there that will be a nice challenge and change from solo playing.
Adjusting to playing in close quarters (piano benches and keyboards are not spacious!), learning to interact with another player to bring out themes, melodic lines, and appropriate phrasing as if one person is playing them, and the sheer beauty of using the entire keyboard and rich harmonies that are possible only with multiple hands on the keysa€¦all of this, and more, is valuable learning for any musician.
Piano four-hands can be the closest thing that many pianists come to playing "ensemble" music.
That experience alone may "sell" you on this addition to your repertoirea€”not to mention that the live music experience is always better than any "Muzak" you can name!You can check our a list of our free piano sheet music for four hands (piano duet).



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