ニコラス・カールトン（Nicholas Carleton）の「A Verse for two to play」とトーマス・トムキンズ（Thomas
Tomkins) の「A Fancy for two to play」が最も古い作品の例だと言われている。（カールトンとトムキンズは、17世紀初期から中期のイギリスの作曲家。）
「ムジカ・ノーヴァ みんなで連弾しよう」 1993年1月号
Sharing the Keyboard
One of the most gratifying moments for any
musician can be experienced when two or more people get together to make
music. For over two hundred years, many composers have written music for
four hands, and two pianos, hoping to explore and enhance the
possibilities of the piano beyond its image as a solo instrument. As a
result, we now have a very large repertoire of music written exclusively
for piano four hands. Furthermore, many composers have used and continue
to see the piano duo an excellent medium for sketching their own
compositions, as it was the case with Ravel and Stravinsky, for
When did it all start?
During the first part of the eighteenth century, many compositions were written and/or sketched for piano four-hands. However, with the development of the symphony and the solo concerto as musical forms, the piano duo became less and less popular. People were tired of the music by an old man named Johann Sebastian Bach. He had written a large amount of music, but it was too difficult to play. People wanted something less difficult, and so they invented something called Style Galant.
With the introduction of a music style known as Style Galant,
music became a form of entertainment. It was no longer that difficult art, that only those who practiced for hours could master. With the introduction of Style Galant, people could make music together, enjoy themselves with a little tea, have some sweets and play some more. In this scenario, many people began to think that compositions for four-hands were of less value because they were not as difficult to play as the more challenging repertoire for piano solo. This idea was supported by the view that duet music was something that wealthy girls could do when their families entertained guests. In other words, piano duets were a sophisticated way of saying to the guests, “we have some live background music.” Today we would call it “Muzak.”
Around the year 1770, things began to change. Joseph Haydn, a curious man and a prolific composer, wrote a series of pieces in the form of theme and variations. He entitled them, Il maestro scolare (The teacher and the pupil).
Haydn wrote these pieces as teaching exercises that he could use with his pupils. Maybe he wanted to play along with them. Think about it: piano lessons can be quite boring, if you have to sit there, just listening to student after student, trying to get through a passage. One thing is for sure: maestro Haydn was a man of great humor, and most likely a conscientious teacher. Maybe he wanted to keep up with his piano skills, and so he wrote these pieces which are in “in no way easy to play.” Il maestro scolare
offers piano duet enthusiasts with a source of excellent, challenging exercises for sight reading, as well as the study of balance and ensemble techniques.
In 1777, Dr. Charles Burney, a famous English historian and amateur composer, published a series of pieces entitled, Four Sonatas or Duets for Two performers on One Piano Forte or Harpsichord.
The first edition was a total success, and so, on the following year, a second edition was printed along with other new pieces. Today, it is difficult to obtain copies of those pieces, because they lost popularity after Mozart began to publish his piano duets. After all, Dr. Burney was a historian, not a musician. A closer study of his pieces will reveal that they lack a clear concept of form. In that respect, Mozart’s sonatas surpass him and many others. For the purpose of this study, our interest in the music of Dr. Burney is more historical (performance practice) than musical. It must be stressed that thanks to his insight, the art of four-hands playing did not fall into oblivion.
In the preface to the first edition (1777), Dr. Burney gives us some useful ideas for playing piano duets, as well as making chamber music in general during his lifetime. It is interesting to note that he believed his pieces were the first compositions for piano four-hands ever published in England. He was wrong. Historians also make a great number of mistakes! For our study, here is a complete transcription of the text:
As the following pieces are the first that have appeared in print it may be necessary to say something concerning their utility, and the manner of performing them.
That great and varied effects may be produced by Duets upon Two keyed-Instruments,
has been proven by several ingenious compositions, some of which have been
published in Germany; but the inconvenience of having two Harpsichords,
or two Piano-Fortes, in the same room, and the short time they remain exactly
in tune together, have prevented frequent trials, and even the cultivation
of this species of music notwithstanding all the advantages which, in other
respects, it offers to musical students.
The playing Duets by two persons upon One instrument, is, however, attended
with nearly as many advantages, without the inconvenience of crowding a
room, or of frequent or double tunings; and so extensive is the compass
of keyed-instruments, that the most full and elaborate compositions must,
if played one person, leave many parts of the scale unemployed; which,
perhaps, first suggested the idea of applying Pedals to the Organ. And
though, at first, the near approach of the hands of the different performers
may seem aukward [sic] and embarrassing, a little use and contrivance with
respect to the manner of placing them, and the choice of fingers, will
soon remove that difficulty.
Indeed, it frequently happens, that when there are two students upon the same keyed-instrument, in one house, they are in each other’s way; however, by compositions of the following kind, they become reciprocally useful, and necessary companions in their musical exercises.
Besides the Amusement which such experiments will afford, they may be made
subservient to two very useful purposes of improvement, as they will require
a particular attention to Time, and to that clair-obscure which is produced
by different degrees of Piano and Forte. Errors committed in the Measure,
by either of the performers of these pieces, who may accelerate, retard,
or otherwise break its proportions, will be sooner discovered, and consequently
attended with more disagreeable effects, than if such errors were committed
by a single player, unless the other give way, and conform to the mistakes
that are made. And with respect to the Pianos and Fortes, each Performer
should try to discover when he has the Principal Melody given to him, or
when he is only to accompany that Melody; in order, either to make it more
conspicuous, or merely to enrich its harmony. There is no fault in accompanying,
so destructive of good melody, taste, and expression, as the vanity with
which young and ignorant Performers are too frequently possessed, of becoming
Principals, when they are only Subalterns; and of being heard, when they
have nothing to say that merits particular attention.
If the part which would afford the greatest pleasure to the hearer be suffocated,
and rendered inaudible, by too full, and too loud an accompaniment, it
is like throwing the capital figure of a piece into the back-ground, or
degrading the master into a servant.
It is hoped, however, that the great strides which the executive part of Music, at least, makes toward perfection, in this metropolis, abounding at present in greater number of capital performers, of almost every kind, than something analogous to Perspective, Transparency, and Contrastin painting, will be generally adopted in music, and be thought of nearly as much importance, and make as great a progress among its students, as they have lately done in the other art.
St. Martin’s-street, January, 1777
As previously stated, our interest in Dr. Burney’s observations is mostly
historical, for he points out some of the problems regarding performance
practice. His comments show us his sincere concern for the most common
problems found in four-hand playing. Understanding balance, treatment of
harmonic and melodic textures, accuracy regarding ensemble, are problems
that have always accompanied every piano duet. It is comforting to know
that the same problems have existed for over three hundred years. The only
with exceptions would be the occasional demands that composers add to the
performance of the pieces. Here, we are referring to physically difficult,
but not impossible requirements like those found in the last movement of
Toshinao Sato’s Divertimento for Four Hands (1981).
In the preparation of these essays and dialogues, several ideas or goals
have been considered:
To inform the reader about the repertoire available for four-hands. Itis
unfortunate that most people who venture themselves into performing duets
rarely play other pieces besides the “standards,” Faure’s Dolly suite,
Ravel’s Ma mere l’Oye, some of Mozart’s easy listening pieces, a couple
of marches by Schubert, and the ever famous Petite Suite by Debussy. Fortunately,
the repertoire for piano four hands has developed considerably over the
last two hundred years, and continues to expand.
To highlight the problems common to four-hand playing and offer potential solutions to them. We are not interested in focusing on the problems themselves; rather, we are interested in sharing what we have learned over the past twelve years, in conversations with other duet ensembles, or from our experience on stage.
To initiate discussion among fellow musicians who enjoy the four-hand medium. We would like to invite people to share their ideas, propose solutions, and promote four-hand playing.
Burney, Charles. 1777. Four Sonatas or Duets for Two performers on OnePiano Forte or Harpsichord. London: R. Bremmer.
Eberler, Max Wilhem.1922. Studien zur Entwicklung der Setzart fur Klavierzu vier Handen von den Anfangen
bis zu Franz Schubert.Dissertation, University of Munich (U23.9561)
McGraw, Cameron. 1981. Piano Duet Repertoire. Bloomington,Indiana University Press.