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Piano Four-Hands, "Once Again" (2021)

26 August 2021

14:30 - 17:00 hrs (GMT+7)

Kathryn Cok
Head of Master Research
Royal Conservatoire The Hague


Alessandra Di Gennaro


Everyone knows that the piano four-hands medium was extremely popular in Europe during the 18th and the 19th century; everyone can whistle at least couple of masterpieces from the piano four-hands literature of that time; but has somebody wondered why this fascinating practice almost disappeared during the 20th century and why in that period the duet music was definitively stigmatized as an “inferior genre” despite its unquestionable beauty?

My contribution will frame the medium in the concept of musical “tradition” in its pure anthropological meaning taking the cue from my research “Piano four-hands, ‘once again’” 


where I tried to answer extensively these questions by setting the history of the piano four-hands medium into its socio-cultural context, with particular attention to its evolution and to the agents of change: demise, innovation, revival.

The results of the investigation point out that once the historical and sociological factors that have allowed the extreme popularity of the medium fell short, it could finally assume a completely new value and it could be a site of compositional and performance innovation which absolutely deserves to be discovered, performed and analyzed.

My trust is that this debate can raise awareness about the topic, encourage pianists to consider the piano four-hands repertoire not only a valid pedagogical tool but also an exciting concert medium, with the ultimate aim of inspiring composers to write new adventurous pieces and contribute to the actual renaissance of the medium.

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