Call for scores: multi-hand piano duets for sightreading competition

On Sunday 15th May 2011 at probably the first sightreading competition of its kind, pianists will attempt to read and play multi-hand piano duet music that they have not seen and played before. The location: a loft apartment in San Francisco with a Steinway grand piano.

On Chappell Piano. Photo: Jacqueline Stretton-Chang, London

On Chappell Piano. Photo: Jacqueline Stretton-Chang, London

What is a multi-hand piano duet?

The simplest is two hands. Next is 3 hands. The popular one is 2 pianists on one piano. The challenge is to write music for more than two pianists.

The composition should meet the following criteria:

  • readability & page-turnability
  • playability
  • repeatability: i.e. the pianists want to play it again or share it with others. There should be an element of fun, intrigue, challenge, or something that prevents one from dismissing it and putting it away on the shelf to be forgotten.
  • length: 2 to 5 minutes (this can be extended to 10 minutes at normal tempo indicated)
  • difficulty: allow players of different levels to play together

For an indication of the difficulty level, please visit a piano soiree that was held in the same place previously. This is a piano club that gets together regularly to have fun. We want to introduce music for several pianists to play together. Sight-reading levels of pianists are usually always lower than performance levels, i.e. the difficulty should be lower than the solo performance repertoire.

Deadline: 5 April 2011

Submission format: e-mail PDF

If your piece is selected, you will get the following benefits in kind:

  • interview & write-up on this blog
  • publicity of your music that was selected
  • feedback from the pianists

Please use the following LEAVE A REPLY form to express your intention to submit. You will get a reply with an e-mail address to submit your score to. Your comment will not be published.

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.

ADDENDUM @ 3 Feb 2011:

Please include a description of the piece, such as what inspired you, techniques and challenges, or anything unique about the piece. Provide a link to your website or biography. This blog will get updated and refined over time as questions arise.



Filed under arrangement, composer, composition, concert, piano, sheet music, sight reading

43 responses to “Call for scores: multi-hand piano duets for sightreading competition

  1. Sounds like fun – question: I am not much of a piano player myself, will you provide for performers?

    • Absolutely, these members of a piano club that are playing solos at advanced levels. The challenge is to get them to play music they’ve never seen or studied before — and to get them to play together on one piano.

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  4. Very cool project! But I’m bias — it will be held in my apartment or if too many people sign up, in a friend’s house. Very excited and looking forward to it!

  5. First qualified duet sheet music received!

  6. Second set of qualified duet sheet music received on Friday.

  7. Third set of qualified duet received today!

  8. Fourth set of qualified duets received today — 5 pieces in a set!

  9. Fifth set of qualified duets received today — from a ballet!

  10. Sixth qualified duet received from a composer in the Netherlands.

  11. 7th duet received from a composer in Hawaii, not to mention hard copies from another!

  12. 9th duet received! – written for this event!

  13. More beautiful duets received! Each submission enquiry is an introduction to a new composer, his/her world of music, etc.

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  15. The speed at which the enquiries and submissions come has increased tremendously, as the deadline of 5th April 2011 approaches! Many more duets have been received!

  16. @ 5th April 2011 23:00 HST
    The CALL FOR SCORES is now closed.
    Thank you for your interest.

  17. I understand the competition is closed, and that you are probably deluged with submissions. I’m wondering, though, if it would be possible to ask a few technical questions pertaining to the format, both readability & playability, and per pros/cons on two vs three players for 3-hand. I’m also happy to send a copy of the work once completed if you would like it. The music was originally written for four woodwinds (has been performed by UC Santa Cruz Music Faculty), inspired by a Russian silent film comedy from 1926 called “Devushka s Korobkoi” (The Girl with the Hat Box). It defied my attempts to arrange for solo piano or for normal duet or two-piano formats, but three hands seems to be just right! Part of the challenge is the criss-crossing of the woodwind parts, but I’m finding solutions. The pieces are lively & lyrical, with links to Russian ballet & folk music. They sound good on “piano” possibly because I used the piano for playback from Finale when I was composing (the playback winds really irked me). I am an oboist & synthesist as well as a composer. THANKS FOR INITIATING THIS EVENT! Very inspiring! I hope these sorts of soirees take off as a regular thing. Would love to attend the next (as audience member).

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