Carnegie Hall, Rada Lupu, Shirley Smith Kirsten

4-hand piano prep and the joy of making music for two

I remember an astonishing concert that I attended at Carnegie Hall where two distinguished pianists sang like nightingales at one 9 foot grand piano. It was back in the 1970’s that I heard Paul Badura-Skoda and Jorge Demus perform the Schubert Fantasie in F minor as opener to a program featuring mostly Mozart works.

The duo recital was mesmerizing though years later I recall stumbling upon Murray Perahia and Rada Lupu playing the hauntingly beautiful Fantasie that left me spellbound with its slower opening tempo.

Recently, a music teacher colleague accepted my invitation to collaborate with her on this masterwork, though I initially shrank from the awesome task of playing the PRIMO part (The Treble–divided between the hands)

Once I became deeply entrenched in my practicing the Secondo, however, I couldn’t resist delving deeply into the Primo. And to satisfy my dual appetite to hear BOTH parts simultaneously, I recorded the first 58 measures (Secondo) on my iMac iMovie, and then clicked the PLAY button, while I recorded the Primo over the Secondo via my Sony Camcorder.

photo (1)

As my journey continues, I will parcel out Primo and Secondo to final cadence.

Once fully prepped, I’ll arrange a rehearsal with my duo partner.


Murray Perahia and Rada Lupu

Second favorite Badura-Skoda and Demus (though I prefer a slower opening tempo)

2 thoughts on “4-hand piano prep and the joy of making music for two”

  1. Thank you, I love the idea of four hands piano rep. And I like the Schubert Fantasie in f minor very much! Currently I have had four sets of students, mostly siblings, playing a concerto with an accompaniment or orchestra part. The joy is increased when these are performed with two grand pianos. Everyone thoroughly enjoys it. There is enough literature out there now that even a late beginner level students can participate. Very inspiring playing Shirley!


  2. Hi Fran, Thanks for sharing. The 4-hand piano rep is very rich and a good way for our students to learn about ensemble, balance,teamwork…Rami Bar-Niv pointed out that playing on two pianos enables more refined pedaling..Sounds reasonable to me. And yes, with so much literature out there, students can partake of this duo art form. Thanks for your nice comments about the playing.


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