It started with one of my intermediate level piano student’s request. He wanted to learn to play Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue as a piano solo piece. At that point, I didn’t think it was ready for him to play this piece as a solo unless we make lots of comprises in arrangement. When pupils usually ask for a particular piece, they already know how it should sound like, so it’s not ideal to give them a simplified version because they usually get disappointed for it being sounding not as cool as the original. So, I looked for a piano duet version. We are all familiar with the Henry Levine’s piano duet transcription that he based on the Gershwin’s original score. The problem is that even with cuts, it’s a little bit too complicated due to the amount of modulations (key changes). When I searched for easier versions that are not over simplified, it was virtually non-existent! That was a deciding factor for me that I should make an attempt in arranging one for my student.

A challenge was to work out how to keep it manageable for intermediate level players without making too much compromise. Based on the Ferde Grofé’s recast orchestra score of Gershwin’s original, I managed to engineer it so that the piece stays within one sharp or flat key. My aim was to make this arrangement as an educational as possible as well as fun to play so that the players can enjoy the satisfaction of being able to contribute to each other in creating a powerful quasi-orchestra sound.

Keeping that in mind, I did my best to give both players a fair share of technical challenges. Out came an abridged version that last about 5 minutes and a half. After a successful performance of my arrangement by my student and his piano duet partner at the EPTA’s chamber concert in November 2012, the score has finally been published and can reach those who wish to have a go! It’s available from Goodmusic Publishing. You can listen to the audio sample generated from the score while you look at the score. I hope it’ll find its usefulness in bringing more fun to piano playing.

Happy ensemble playing!!


Performing with my teenage pupil for whom I wrote this arrangement: