Piano music for Thanksgiving


Although Thanksgiving is an American holiday not celebrated elsewhere, I can’t help compiling a list for a future concert around this time of the year. The most obvious are those with “thank you” in the title and traditional church hymns sung at this time.

When my long-time friend Lori played Dido’s “Thank You” in her home in Marina del Rey in September 2003, I stopped dead in my tracks. Who was the singer? What song was it? Generous to a fault, Lori gave me her CD album. I listened to every track, and over time this song became one of my favorites.

Then there’s ABBA’s “Thank You for the Music” sung at the end of one season of the Okinawa Choral Society, back when I was still a teenager in Okinawa. I never forgot how appropriate it seemed to end a program with this song. Perhaps that’s when I got hooked on ABBA, even staging an ABBA-only singalong at one of the few birthday parties I ever celebrated in London.

Besides these two, there are plenty of other pop songs of thanks, such as Andrew Gold’s “Thank You for Being a Friend,” Alanis Morissette’s “Thank U” and Bon Jovi’s “Thank You for Loving Me.” One of my students asked me to arrange Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You,” a work NOT for piano written by Jimmy Pager and Robert Plant.

In my quest for music specifically for solo piano, I found three new-age piano solos entitled “Thanksgiving.” From easy to difficult, they are by Edward Weiss, George Winston, and Peter Kater. All of these are freely foundable and downloadable from the Internet. Vince Guaraldi’s “Thanksgiving Theme” for solo piano was used in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” but I wasn’t able to find free sheet music for the entire piece.

As a former church organist, I recall plenty of hymns associated with Thanksgiving, not least the following

  • For the Beauty of the Earth
  • All Creatures of Our God and King
  • Now Thank We All Our God
  • All Things Bright and Beautiful
  • Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
  • Over the River and Through the Woods

While “Turkey in the Straw” may have nothing to do with Thanksgiving, what other time does one celebrate the turkey?

Aaron Copland rediscovered the Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” and wove it into his famous ballet “Appalachian Spring.” There are several easy piano versions available. And this was how I came upon Laura Sullivan’s new age arrangement for solo piano. [Click on the sample score below to get to her website of beautiful piano music.]

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Filed under arrangement, composer, composition, instrument, piano, research, sheet music, sight reading

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