Playing an instrument with someone is fun. And especially if you are a good friend with that someone, then it’s even more fun.
The instrument I play, the piano, is a pretty solo instrument. Any string instrument will easily find its place in an orchestra. Although they can all be solo instruments, wind instruments also find their place in groups, bands and orchestras. But that's not the case with the piano.
Often we pianists perform with other instruments, in the form of accompaniment, or as a member of the chamber ensemble. But it is a much more common sight that we are destined for a solo performance.
Fortunately, some composers who dedicated their opus to piano music had mercy, so they invented that they could unite two players at the same piano. This is how four-handed compositions were created, which include two people and one piano.
Playing with my son
It is known that the first compositions for one piano for four hands were published in 1782 under the title Drey Sonaten füre Clavier als Doppelstücke fur zwey Personen mit vier Handen von C. H. Müller. (wikipedia). But , that idea to unite two or more keyboard players may have date back to Johann Sebastian Bach, as he composed various concertos for more players, thou not meant to be played at the same keyboard.
Notable composers who composed original compositions for this kind of piano duet, four hands, were Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms. In addition, many other composers used already existing compositions, such as sonatas or symphonies, and made arrangements for four hands. It was a way of learning and practising, but also fun for siblings, colleagues and friends.
As a piano teacher, I often give my students four-handed compositions. It's a great exercise to learn to listen to your colleague, to be more responsible and learn your part well. They really enjoy that way of performing.
I also like to play four hands. I have a dear friend, I just talked to her today via video conference. We now live each in a different country, far from each other, but while we worked together at the same school, we often played together. I mentioned it to her today and asked if I could post one video I found, where we play together. The video was recorded 10 years ago, at one of the concerts. Oh, we were so young. The video is not the sharpest, I hope you will forgive me.
With my friend in Vienna
We played an arrangement of Bach's chorale from Cantata No. 147, Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring. First, we practised each part separately, so we met and talked, laughed, had fun and ..... played as well. I told you, it’s fun because you hang out and play the same instrument with a friend you love. You have to almost breathe together, know what the other person is thinking and how she/he will react to a possible mistake, or a change of pace, rhythm. You have to be like one player.
This post is dedicated to my wonderful and good friend, Aniko, and a reminder of our playing together. I hope to see her this year if conditions allow. I hope you liked as well this little insight into how the players can enjoy playing in the same piano, at the same time. A lot of greetings to everyone!
Johann Sebastian Bach:
Jesus, Joy Of Man's Desiring :