From the beginning of the nineteenth century piano four-hands music playing, especially one-piano four-hands playing, have gradually became the favorite entertainment for music amateurs of pre-phonograph and pre-radio days. Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians of 1879 described the piano four-hands medium as a one that can “reproduce the characteristic effects of orchestral works more readily and faithfully than arrangements for pianoforte solo”. In response to the steadily increasing public demand for piano music that could simulate symphonic qualities of the orchestra in parlor settings, numerous arrangements of all significant music, old and new, were published by the nineteenth-century publishers. Since in the hot market almost every piano duet adaptation was potentially marketable, the quality of the arrangements varied greatly.
Nowadays, the extensive body of piano four-hands versions of works from nineteenth century and early twentieth century often serves as a basis for arrangements by modern piano duos. We ourselves created our own versions of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka and The Rite of Spring, because the original reductions by the composer predated the orchestral versions and were intended for ballet rehearsals and not for the concert scene. We have also play our own arrangement of Gershwin’s An American in Paris.
In our own never-ending search for a new repertoire, we created a catalog of orchestral and piano four-hands versions of the works that are in the public domain in the United States. These versions can be downloaded under the links below.