Primo Secondo

by Karl Hitzemann

"Primo Secondo" is a fun and slightly silly tribute to the musical genre known as "piano four hands," which is music written for one piano played by two people. A piece written for two pianos is generally called a "piano duo." Piano four hands began in the 18th century and flourished in the Romantic era (1830 - 1900). Many famous composers wrote in this style, including Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, and more. Of course, some of the more "famous" and recognizable works include "Chopsticks" and "Heart And Soul." The basic idea is that two performers sit at one piano. The person on right side playing the upper register is the "Primo," and the person on the left playing the lower register is the "Secondo."

This short song is easy to sing but requires the singers to sing with great enthusiasm and over-the-top enunciation. Your choir should act and look very prim and proper, especially for the more goofy second verse. If you have two fairly decent student piano players (or a student and teacher, or two teachers) you could do a live performance. Each piano part requires a bit of skill, but neither is too difficult. If you don't have capable players at your disposal, you could use the provided recorded accompaniment and have two of your best piano "fakers" sit at a piano and pretend to play. If you go this route, your piano pretenders should really ham it up with lots of flamboyance and flourish. It would be really great to have them dress in formal attire. And a candelabra on the piano would be a nice touch.

For a really awesome example of the piano four hands repertoire, check out the piano duettists Weekley & Arganbright. They've dedicated their entire careers to bringing awareness to this unique genre.

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.