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Surprise Symphony Arrangement Progress Thread


caters
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I have been arranging mostly Beethoven and Mozart lately. I figured it was time to change that and arrange a piece by a different composer. It has also been a long time since I arranged a piece for piano, either duet or solo. So I was wondering what would fit into a Piano Duet arrangement well. I immediately narrowed things down to orchestral works. I figured that for the best chances of fitting into a Piano Duet, I would want to stick to those composed in the Classical Era. I know from experience that Beethoven is hard to fit into a Piano Duet, not to mention the resulting arrangement being hard to play.

This left me with only 1 other composer really, that being Franz Joseph Haydn. And of course, if I am going to arrange an orchestral work by Haydn, it is going to be one of his 100+ symphonies. The one I am most familiar with is his "Surprise" Symphony, probably the most well known Haydn symphony in existence. It ranks up there with Symphony no 40 K 550 and Beethoven's Fifth in terms of familiarity. The most famous part of that symphony is the second movement, where out of nowhere, the whole orchestra blares out a fortissimo chord. Another surprise in the second movement is the sudden jolt from C major to C minor.

But, you know me, I always arrange the first movement first, even if it isn't the most well known part of the piece. I found that so far, Haydn fits pretty well into a Piano Duet arrangement, fitting better than Mozart and way better than Beethoven to the ensemble of a Piano Duet. So far, I have arranged the entire first movement of the symphony. Now, before you go on about impossible hand crossings, I arranged this for 2 Pianos 4 Hands. So there are no hand crossings between pianists, just hand crossings between notes played by the same pianist. This is the edition of the symphony I have been using from IMSLP:

http://ks.imslp.net/files/imglnks/usimg/0/09/IMSLP494069-PMLP34746-2_IMSLP284343-PMLP461683-Hayd_Sinf_2.pdf

Here is the first movement of Haydn's "Surprise" Symphony arranged for a Piano Duet. What do you think of my Haydn arrangement so far?

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Sounds pretty nice, pretty effective; and your 4 hands arrangement is nifty! It doesn't look too difficult to play. I followed the score through but didn't look at it deeply. Nothing alarming stood out! Plenty of scope there for dynamic variation which your rendering captures quite well.

My one comment is that it's a shame you couldn't place pianos just slightly apart on the sound stage and add a (very) small amount of reverb. A slight separation would give the antiphonal effect in the opening bars a chance.

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2 minutes ago, Quinn said:

Sounds pretty nice, pretty effective; and your 4 hands arrangement is nifty! It doesn't look too difficult to play. I followed the score through but didn't look at it deeply. Nothing alarming stood out! Plenty of scope there for dynamic variation which your rendering captures quite well.

My one comment is that it's a shame you couldn't place pianos just slightly apart on the sound stage and add a (very) small amount of reverb. A slight separation would give the antiphonal effect in the opening bars a chance.

 

Well, I am using Musescore to arrange this(in fact, I have been using Musescore for all my compositions and arrangements for years). That makes it very easy to see the notes in staff notation. But, if I try to adjust the reverb using Musescore, it is going to apply to all instruments, so I can't separate the pianos just by adjusting the reverb setting in Musescore. And I don't have any kind of DAW that I can use to get that separation between the two pianos, nor am I at all familiar with using a DAW.

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I like your arrangement. I think it works well.

12 hours ago, caters said:

I have been arranging mostly Beethoven and Mozart lately. I figured it was time to change that and arrange a piece by a different composer. It has also been a long time since I arranged a piece for piano, either duet or solo. So I was wondering what would fit into a Piano Duet arrangement well. I immediately narrowed things down to orchestral works. I figured that for the best chances of fitting into a Piano Duet, I would want to stick to those composed in the Classical Era. I know from experience that Beethoven is hard to fit into a Piano Duet, not to mention the resulting arrangement being hard to play.

There are many examples of piano duets of Beethoven. It's nothing unusual to write, and arrangements on the Romantic era are common. There was a movement where many arrangements were written of popular orchestral works for people to play a home.

12 hours ago, caters said:

This left me with only 1 other composer really, that being Franz Joseph Haydn. And of course, if I am going to arrange an orchestral work by Haydn, it is going to be one of his 100+ symphonies. The one I am most familiar with is his "Surprise" Symphony, probably the most well known Haydn symphony in existence. It ranks up there with Symphony no 40 K 550 and Beethoven's Fifth in terms of familiarity. The most famous part of that symphony is the second movement, where out of nowhere, the whole orchestra blares out a fortissimo chord. Another surprise in the second movement is the sudden jolt from C major to C minor.

Can I just say that what happened to the rest of "his 100+ symphonies""? Just because you know the surprise symphony well, doesn't mean it's the best to arrange. I really would consider branching out from the three symphonies you have mentioned here. Are there none other worth mentioning by an arranger today?

12 hours ago, caters said:

But, you know me, I always arrange the first movement first, even if it isn't the most well known part of the piece. I found that so far, Haydn fits pretty well into a Piano Duet arrangement, fitting better than Mozart and way better than Beethoven to the ensemble of a Piano Duet. So far, I have arranged the entire first movement of the symphony. Now, before you go on about impossible hand crossings, I arranged this for 2 Pianos 4 Hands. So there are no hand crossings between pianists, just hand crossings between notes played by the same pianist. This is the edition of the symphony I have been using from IMSLP:

Haydn's orchestration is simpler. Piano duet music is often very complicated and difficult to play, so the difficulty really doesn't matter. In my experience, hand crossing etc are common. Out of interest, have you played piano duets before?

8 hours ago, Quinn said:

Sounds pretty nice, pretty effective; and your 4 hands arrangement is nifty! It doesn't look too difficult to play. I followed the score through but didn't look at it deeply. Nothing alarming stood out! Plenty of scope there for dynamic variation which your rendering captures quite well.

I agree with Quinn. I think it's a good arrangement, but I don't know the orchestral score as well so I don't know how you have actually done it.

8 hours ago, caters said:

Well, I am using Musescore to arrange this(in fact, I have been using Musescore for all my compositions and arrangements for years). That makes it very easy to see the notes in staff notation. But, if I try to adjust the reverb using Musescore, it is going to apply to all instruments, so I can't separate the pianos just by adjusting the reverb setting in Musescore. And I don't have any kind of DAW that I can use to get that separation between the two pianos, nor am I at all familiar with using a DAW.

Is there not a way to change individual instruments in the Mixer? That would help you get a better rendering and it's something I use often.

 

Good job. I would like to see you branching out as an arranger, and I think that arranging a Mendelssohn, Schumann or Dvorak symphony would be a good challenge for you. How about it?

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I can adjust the volume and pan of individual instruments using the mixer in Musescore, but, I have no idea how adjusting the pan will change things or how much I should adjust it to get a decent piano duet rendering. Adjusting the volume, I know could easily lead to a forte against piano type of feeling if I'm not careful enough with the adjustment.

And maybe you are right, maybe I should branch out from Classical/Early Romantic(Beethoven's symphonies, sometimes they are considered to be Romantic Era from Eroica and beyond, sometimes Beethoven's Fifth is considered to be the last of the Classical Era symphonies and the start of the Romantic Era symphonies, and sometimes Beethoven's Ninth is considered to be Beethoven's only Romantic Era symphony).

The only arrangement I have made of a work that is undoubtedly from the Romantic Era is a piano duet arrangement of The Nutcracker Suite, another orchestral work. I have never arranged a Romantic Era symphony before. So, yes, I accept that challenge of arranging a symphony by either Mendelssohn, Schumann, or Dvorak. In fact, right now, I am listening to Mendelssohn's "Italian" Symphony.

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