Ludwig van Beethoven
Pieces for piano four hands

About Ludwig van Beethoven's Pieces for piano four hands

Beethoven did not attach great importance to piano duets, but nevertheless there are some interesting works, some written for students and some designed for aristocratic aquaintances and friends. The Sonata Op. 6 (1797) is a miniature in two brief movements, starting with a kind of "fate knocking at the door"-motif, but entirely without the sinister undertones of the 5th Symphony.

Ferdinand Ries, a young protégée of Beethoven was employed as a house-pianist by Count Johann George von Browne-Camus. Ries was often required to play music by Beethoven, but one day got tired of this, and entertained the company with an improvised march which he attributed to Beethoven and which won general praise. Beethoven’s arrival at the count's house the next day proved embarrassing, when Ries was asked to play the piece again. According to Ries, the master was first annoyed, but then went on to write a set of Three Marches for piano duet.

The piano duo arrangement of the Grosse Fuge for string quartet was at first entrusted to Anton Halm, a competent pianist, who had, years before, appeared in performances of works by Beethoven. But Beethoven was dissatisfied, particularly by Halm’s attempts to avoid hands crossing by dividing the voices differently, and made sure that the published version was one he had made himself.