The Postclassical Multiple Piano List

All right, here’s the repertoire list for postclassical music for multiple pianos, as well as I’ve been able to piece it together – and longer than I expected to find, I must say, given the inconvenient nature of the medium. There’s a temptation to broaden the category, since so many fine works for multiple pianos remain little known. For instance, Wallingford Riegger’s Variations for two pianos is among his best works, and Ferruccio Busoni’s Fantasia Contrappuntistica, based on fragments of Bach’s last, unfinished fugue, has been a tremendous influence on me, partly the inspiration for my own I’itoi Variations. It’s curious, in fact, how common theme and variations is in the double-piano literature. But I’ll stick to postclassical, and some of those listed, like Reich’s Piano Phase and Feldman’s Piece for Four Pianos, are seminal works of the era. The number in parentheses is the number of pianos required, of course.

The Postclassical Multiple Piano List

Morton Feldman: Two Pianos (2)

- Piece for Four Pianos (4)

- Vertical Thoughts I (2)

- Five Pianos (5)

John Cage: Winter Music (any number)

Steve Reich: Piano Phase (2)

- Six Pianos (6)

Daniele Lombardi: Sinfonia No 1 (21)

- Sinfonia No. 2 (21)

- Threnodia (21)

Harold Budd, Daniel Lentz, and Ruben Garcia: Pulse/Pause/Retreat (3)

- La Muchacha de los Suenos Dorados (3)

- Iris (3)

- Somos Tres (3)

- The Messenger (3)

- La Casa Bruja (3)

Simeon ten Holt: Meandres (4)

- Canto Ostinato (4)

- Horizon (4)

- Shadow nor Prey (2)

James Tenney: Chromatic Canon (2)

- Bridge (2 pianos, four players)

- Flocking (2 pianos, four players)

Ernesto Martinez: Tocatta [sic] (2)

- Mutaciones Basadas en el Preludio #1 de J.S. Bach (2)

- Adagio (2 electric pianos)

Eduardo Gonzalez: Casi Satie Pero con Adorno (2)

- Estudio Micro-Arritmico #1 (2)

Meredith Monk: Ellis Island (2)

- Phantom Waltz (2)

William Duckworth: Binary Images (2)

- Forty Changes (2)

Ingram Marshall: Five Easy Pieces (2)

Anthony Braxton: Composition No. 95 (2)

Frederic Rzewski: Night Crossing with Fisherman (2)

David Borden: Double Portrait (2)

Stefan Wolpe: Enactments (3)

Paul Bowles: Night Waltz (2)

Michael Byron: Evaporated Pleasure (2)

Terry Riley: Cinco de Mayo (2)

Kevin Volans: Cicada (2)

Jack Vees: Piano Trio (Hulk Smash) (2 pianos, 3 players)

Robert Ashley: Viva’s Boy (2)

John McGuire: 48 Variations for Two Pianos (2)

“Blue” Gene Tyranny: The Decertified Highway of Dreams (2)

Larry Polansky: ivt (2)

Wendy Mae Chambers: Ten Grand (10)

Peter Gena: 100 Fingers (10 players, I forget how many pianos)

David Lang: Orpheus Over and Under (2)

Galen Brown: Distance Over Time (2)

Julius Eastman: Evil Nigger* (4)

- Gay Guerrilla (4)

- Crazy Nigger* (4)

Kyle Gann: Long Night (3)

- I’itoi Variations (2)

*Perhaps I’d better hasten to explain the titles of the late Julius Eastman (1940-90). Eastman was a gay African-American, and his titles are quite deliberate strategies to appropriate to himself and neutralize, or even exalt, words that normally have negative connotations. Since the American economy was built on the manual labor of those at the bottom, he defined “nigger” as “that which is fundamental,” and he intended to glorify, through his titles, those who have been demeaned as “niggers.” He was controversial, but the pieces are fantastic.

In addition, there’s an entire repertoire performed by the piano sextet Pianocircus, which can be looked up at their website. I don’t know much of the music there, how many of the pieces are arrangements, or how many are for fewer than six pianos. Suggested additions will be entertained.