20th century/contemporary four hands pieces?

Hey yall. First post here. Nice forum.

I’ve had the good fortune of living with a fellow amateur pianist, and we’ve been looking for interesting 4-hands pieces to play… unfortunately a lot of stuff I can find out there is boring as hell. We did Starer’s Suite of Piano Duets, Ligeti’s Five Pieces and Feldman’s Piano Four Hands and are looking for pieces vaguely along those lines. Ya know… fun/interesting/not super old. Ornstein’s Walse Buffon seems cool but is way out of my league… has anyone ever heard that one, by the way?

There are a couple of pieces I’m aware of but can’t find sheet music for or even recordings. Babbitt’s Envoi would be interesting, and I’m curious about Terry Riley’s four hand pieces. If anyone knows where I could take a look at the sheet music of those (or hear the Rileys) I’d appreciate it.

But more importantly, if anyone knows of any that they can recommend… please do.


george crumb’s makrokosmos IV is probably my favorite piece for piano 4 hands in the 20th century. however, you need a page turner for this piece, and the page turner is required to do stuff in the 3rd and 4th movts, so it’s effectively a piece for piano 6 hands.

As much as I like that piece, I don’t have the piano for it, or the extra person, or the skills or will to tackle a half-hour long post-tonal piece riddled with extended techniques. That probably makes me a huge wiener on this forum but I can deal with that. Thanks for the suggestion regardless; I hope everyone feels free to suggest any and all pieces for four hands.

I should also specify that I’m looking for four-hands-one-piano pieces. But again, that’s just me.

I’ll go ahead and list a bunch of the works I’ve come across on my search, to move things along:

Stravinsky - 3 Easy Pieces, 5 Easy Pieces
Sometimes interesting but mostly dull
Arrangements of Petrushka and the Rite of Spring are cool, but fuuuucking difficult

Stockhausen - Intervall
From his ‘intuitive music’ period, probably not too interesting in practice, although I’ve never seen the score or heard a performance

Ligeti - 5 Pieces
Early, folky pieces, not that interesting or radical, but fun

Starer - Suite of Piano Duets
Non-tonal with a lot of quartal stuff, chromatic layering of similar lines, odd but blocky syncopation; fun to play but kind of dry musically

Ornstein - Valse Buffon
looks fun, is probably awesome and furious but I can’t play it and have never heard it

Casella - Pagine di Guerra
dark and loud, seems fun

Feldman - Piano Four Hands
Ultra slow and meditative, good stuff if you’re in the mood

Schoenberg - Six Pieces
Pre-dodecaphony Schoenberg, nice and brief and sophisticated, but pretty antique-sounding for my tastes

Kurtag - Jatekok
Cool pieces, you have to learn their notation before you play them

Kagel - Der Eid Des Hippokrates
3 hands, haven’t heard it or attempted it but the sheet looks really interesting, a lot of percussive knocking

Janacek - Jealousy
Cool piece, very Janacek-y, can’t find the sheet music aaanywhere

Hindemith - Sonata for Four Hands

Bartok - The Miraculous Mandarin, 4-hand reduction

Barber - Souvenirs
Can’t find the music for this one.

Satie - Trois Morceaux, Three Little Pieces

Antheil - Three Little Pieces

Crumb - Mikrokosmos IV (of course)

Riley - The Heaven Ladder, Book 5
Can’t find it at all.

Babbitt - Envoi

Rihm - Mehrere Kurze Walzer

And a bunch of Mahler, Debussy and Rachmaninov arrangements that I’m not sweating.

there is also vincent persichetti’s concerto for piano 4 hands. it’s a nice 20 minute work with a lot of variety in it. i’ve always felt that persichetti is one of the most unjustly overlooked american composers. this concerto has the same sort of weight that one of his symphonies would carry.

btw, from your list, i happen to love the hindemith sonata for 4 hands.