Three Easy Pieces, also referred to by its original French title Trois pièces faciles, is a collection of pieces for four hands by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was finished in 1915 and was published as a set in the winter of 1917.
Stravinsky's Three Easy Pieces can be understood as an example of Gebrauchsmusik, that is, music that was conceived and composed specifically for some purpose, and not for its own sake. In this case, Stravinsky wrote this set and 1917 Five Easy Pieces especially for educational purposes. After completing his Valse des fleurs, which is similar to them in the sense that they were composed for his little children to play with him, Stravinsky decided to write pieces for four hands to teach them how to play the piano.The set was composed in Clarens, in 1914 and 1915 and was presented and first performed by José Iturbi, on April 22, 1918. It was eventually published in 1917.
The Three Easy Pieces take approximately three minutes to perform. The pieces are:
Even though they are titled as "easy", only the left part is easy, the right hand sustaining the whole burden of the composition.In this case, the secondo has only one staff and uses both hands to play ostinato parts. The set features an overtly satirical character, in contrast to its twin set, which is much more serious and displays much more insight into Stravinsky's compositional method. Stravinsky once referred to them as "popcorn".
Stravinsky himself made a number of arrangements of these three pieces. Upon completing the set in 1915, Stravinsky made a first transcription of the Polka for cimbalom and for cimbalom and a small ensemble. Later that year, he also arranged the March for twelve instruments and the Waltz for seven instruments. However, only the solo cimbalom version of the Polka was selected for publication. In 1921, Stravinsky reworked the three movements and arranged them for small orchestra, and published them as the first three movements in Suite No. 2.
The cimbalom is a type of chordophone composed of a large, trapezoidal box with metal strings stretched across its top. It is a musical instrument commonly found in the group of Central-Eastern European nations and cultures, namely contemporary Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and in the traditional instrumental music of East European Jews throughout most of that territory. It is also popular in Greece and in Romani music. The cimbalom is (typically) played by striking two beaters against the strings. The steel treble strings are arranged in groups of 4 and are tuned in unison. The bass strings which are over-spun with copper, are arranged in groups of 3 and are also tuned in unison. The Hornbostel–Sachs musical instrument classification system registers the cimbalom with the number 314.122-4,5. Moreover, the instrument name “cimbalom” also denotes earlier, smaller versions of the cimbalom, and folk cimbaloms, of different tone groupings, string arrangements, and box types.
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Paul Jacobs was an American pianist. He was best known for his performances of twentieth-century music but also gained wide recognition for his work with early keyboards, performing frequently with Baroque ensembles.
Igor Stravinsky's Violin Concerto in D is a neoclassical violin concerto in four movements, composed in the summer of 1931 and premiered on October 23, 1931. It lasts approximately twenty minutes.
The Grande valse brillante in E-flat major, Op. 18, was composed by Frédéric Chopin in 1833 and published in 1834. This was his first published waltz composition for solo piano, although prior to 1834 he had written at least sixteen waltzes that were either destroyed or eventually published posthumously.
Piano four hands is a type of piano duet involving two players playing the same piano simultaneously. A duet with the players playing separate instruments is generally referred to as a piano duo.
Igor Stravinsky wrote the Ebony Concerto in 1945 for the Woody Herman band known as the First Herd. It is one in a series of compositions commissioned by the bandleader/clarinetist featuring solo clarinet, and the score is dedicated to him. It was first performed on March 25, 1946 in Carnegie Hall in New York City, by Woody Herman's Band, conducted by Walter Hendl.
The Three Marches Militaires, Op. 51, D. 733, are pieces in march form written for piano four-hands by Franz Schubert.
The Octet for wind instruments is a chamber music composition by Igor Stravinsky, completed in 1923.
Three Pieces for String Quartet is a composition by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was finished in 1914, revised in 1918, and eventually published in 1922.
The Concerto for Two Pianos is a composition by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was finished on November 9, 1935 and, together with his Sonata for Two Pianos, is considered nowadays as one of his major compositions for piano during his neoclassical period. It was also Stravinsky's first work after becoming a French citizen.
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Scherzo à la russe is a composition by Russian expatriate composer Igor Stravinsky. It was initially published by Chappell & Co. in 1945 and premiered in March 1946 by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer himself. It was later published by Boosey & Hawkes.
En blanc et noir, L. 134, CD. 142, is a suite in three movements for two pianos by Claude Debussy, written in June 1915. He composed the work on the Normandy coast, suffering from cancer and concerned about the involvement of France in the Great War. The work is full of personal literary and musical allusions. Each movement comes with a literary motto. In the second movement, Debussy quoted Luther's hymn "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" as a symbol of militant Lutheran Germany. The three movements were dedicated respectively to three people: Serge Koussevitzky, Jacques Charlot, and Igor Stravinsky.
Johannes Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes (Liebeslieder-Walzer) are distributed across two opus numbers: Op. 52 and Op. 65. The waltzes are a collection of love songs in Ländler style for voices and piano four hands. The lyrics for the Liebeslieder come from Georg Friedrich Daumer's Polydora, a collection of folk songs and love poems. While there is no concrete record indicating the exact inspiration for the Waltzes, there is speculation that Brahms' motivation for the songs was his frustrated love for pianist and composer Clara Schumann.
Five Easy Pieces, also referred to by its original French title Cinq pièces faciles, is a collection of pieces for four hands by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was finished in 1917 and was published as a set in the winter of 1917/18.
The Concerto for Piano is a composition for solo piano and orchestra by the American composer Elliott Carter. The work was commissioned by the pianist Jacob Lateiner with support from the Ford Foundation. It was composed between 1964 and 1965 and was first performed at Symphony Hall, Boston on January 6, 1967, by Lateiner and the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the conductor Erich Leinsdorf. The piece was dedicated to the composer Igor Stravinsky for his 85th birthday.
Valse des fleurs is a short composition for two pianos by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was completed in 1914.
Aladár Rácz was a Hungarian cimbalom player known for adapting Baroque harpsichord and clavecin repertoire for the cimbalom, which is traditionally a Hungarian folk music instrument. He was the winner of the 1948 Kossuth Prize and influenced the composer Igor Stravinsky to incorporate the cimbalom into his compositions.