Multi-hand piano duets: many hands on one piano

Many hands playing on one piano is not a common phenomenon. On 15th May 2011 in San Francisco, pianists will gather to sight read multi-hand piano duets submitted by composers from a Call for Scores.


What do you do when you have many pianists all eager to play but there is only one piano?

Get them to play multi-hand duets. Most typical is two pianists on one piano, but there are also 3 hands on one piano up to 8 hands on one piano.

The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) has volumes of sheet music you can download for free. The scores are categorised alphabetically by composer, instrumentation, and genre. The library continues to expand as contributors donate scanned or created copies of sheet music whose copyrights have expired.

In the category of multi-hand piano duet, only one 8-hand one piano duet is available for download at this time.

Bouillet’s Divertissement for 8 hands one piano (PDF) looks fabulously easy and fun.

Where else can you get multi-hand duets?

I don’t know anyone who has been collecting such duets for as long as I have been buying, borrowing, and writing music for many hands on one piano. After seeing how much the pianists of my sightreading workshop last November enjoyed playing new music they have never heard of or seen before, I decided to try a little experiment. I wanted to introduce new music to pianists who are so used to buying or borrowing music that have existed for hundreds of years. Where can you get new music?

From composers who have written music but not disseminated them.

From composers who have not yet written the music.

In short, ask composers to submit music for performers who are eager to play —- hence a CALL FOR SCORES.

On Sunday 15th May 2011 at a piano soiree in San Francisco (SOMA 10th Street), pianists will gather to sight read new duet music by living composers who have responded to the CALL FOR SCORES (deadline 5th April).

Curious about the music? Want to join the fun? Visit the invitation page at High Note Live for details and reservations.

Below: a party where 8 pianists played on two pianos in the Netherlands.

Steinway to Heaven Welcom Fest
Steinway to Heaven Welcom Fest

Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

6 thoughts on “Multi-hand piano duets: many hands on one piano”

  1. My long-time friend and business partner Mark Walsen (who recently passed away) was a big fan and player of 4 and 8 hand piano. He had amassed some sheet music and played regularly with some friends. He was in the process of using our software (Notation Composer) to begin making 4 and 8 hand arrangements of works that he wanted to play. He started with MIDI files that he found on the internet, and used the “Part/Prepare piano reduction” as a starting point for creating the arrangement. This would be one way that anyone could arrange a 4 (or more ambitiously an 8) hand piece of a work that you specifically want. I have a copy of his “in progress” arrangement of Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” that is not yet finished, but does show a snap-shot of the process.

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