Four-Hand Piano Transcriptions and the Reception of Symphonic Repertoire in Nineteenth-Century Europe

  • Elissa Miller-Kay Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music 2010 Arun Amarin Soi 36, Bang Yi Khan, Bang Phlat Bangkok, Thailand 10700
Keywords: arrangements, four hand, nineteenth century, piano, reception, transcriptions

Abstract

In the nineteenth century, listening to a symphony was a rare and precious treat. Few could afford to attend the symphony regularly, and even those who could would be lucky to hear a favourite work once every few years. There was, however, one way for nineteenth-century music lovers to hear their favourite symphonies anytime on demand: by playing arrangements. Arrangements of symphonies, particularly those for piano four-hands, were phenomenally popular. Amateur musicians would play through arrangements before a concert to familiarise themselves with unknown works and after to re-experience the music they enjoyed. In the twentieth century, recordings took over this function. Today, it is not the sonic magnificence of the orchestra that is rare and precious; it is the act of music-making. This paper examines the roles that four-hand piano transcriptions played in the reception of symphonic repertoire during the nineteenth century and, by way of conclusion, suggests some pedagogical applications of the findings. The history of four-hand piano transcriptions demonstrates the crucial role that active participation in music-making plays in the understanding and enjoyment of symphonic repertoire.

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Published
2018-03-02
How to Cite
Miller-Kay, E. (2018). Four-Hand Piano Transcriptions and the Reception of Symphonic Repertoire in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Malaysian Journal of Music, 7, 195-207. https://doi.org/10.37134/mjm.vol7.11.2018