Music > Piano Music
Schubert's unsurpassed achievement in the piano duet includes dances, marches, variation sets, overtures, fantasies, divertissements and sonatas. He clearly held these works in high esteem. His first published piano duet was released in 1822 with the dedication 'To Ludwig van Beethoven, from his worshipper and admirer Franz Schubert' and he is said to have delivered the work personally to the older master.
Schubert wrote more four-hand piano music than any other great composer, all of it enjoyable, some of it amongst his finest music. The most famous, though not the best, is the first of the 3 Marches militaires, D. 733. In the same category, but at a markedly higher artistic level, are the high-spirited 2 Marches caractéristiques, D. 886 and, much lengthier, the once tremendously popular Divertissement à l’hongroise, D. 818.
The most imposing is the very substantial Sonata in C ‘Grand Duo’, D. 812, truly symphonic in dimensions and character, and so orchestral in conception that it was long thought to be a piano arrangement of the missing 'Gmunden-Gasteiner' symphony. Schubert's piano duets are often orchestral in nature. The 'Grand Duo' has been orchestrated several times, most notably by Joseph Joachim, as have the F Minor Fantasie and the famous 'Military March' among other duets.
The best of Schubert's duets, however, is the extraordinary Fantasie in F minor, D. 940, a work whose tragic essence is all the more affecting for the sweetness in it. Many musicians would cite it as the finest four-hand work ever written (its only rivals being two sonatas by Mozart, K. 497 and 521). Shorter but if anything even finer is the passionate Allegro in A minor (‘Lebensstürme’), D. 947, a marvellously involving work.
Schubert wrote his greatest piano duets in the miraculously productive last year of his life as he continued his compositional experimentation. There is no doubt that Schubert's piano duets place great demands on their performer's sense of timbre, intelligence, speed of reaction and concern for detail. They are difficult, but certainly not unplayable.
Complete list for Franz Schubert piano four hands:
Fantasie in G major, D 1
Fantasie in G minor, D 9
Fantasie in C minor, D 48
Four Polonaises, Op. 75, D 599
Marche Héroique in B minor, Op. 27, D 602
Marche Héroique in C major, Op. 27, D 602
Marche Héroique in D major, Op. 27, D 602
Variations on an Original Theme in B-flat major, D 603
Rondo in D major, Op. posth. 138, D 608
Grande Sonata in B-flat major, Op. 30, D 617
German Dance with 2 Trios and 2 Ländler, D 618
Variations on a French Song in E minor, Op. 10, D 624
Overture in G minor, D. 668
Overture in F major, Op. 34, D 675
3 Marches militaires, Op. 51, D 733
Sonata in C major ('Grand Duo'), Op. posth. 140, D 812
Variations on an Original Theme in A-flat major, Op. 35, D 813
4 "Ländler" in E-flat major, A-flat major, C minor, C major, D 814
Divertissement à la Hongroise in G minor, Op. 54, D 818
6 Grandes Marches et Trios, Op. 40, D 819
Divertissement on a French motif D 823
6 Polonaises, Op. 61, D 824
Grande Marche funebre in C minor D 859
Grande Marche héroique in A minor, Op. 66, D 885
2 Marches caractéristiques in C major, D 886
Variations on a theme from the Opera "Marie" by Hérold, Op. 82, D 908
March (Children's March) in G major, D .928
Fantasie in F minor, Op. 103, D 940
Duo (Lebensstürme) in A minor, D 947
Rondo in A major, Op. 107, D 951
Fugue in E minor, Op. posth. 152, D 952
Allegro moderato in C major, D 968
Andante in A minor, D 968