Duet Favorites

Another year… another success!  We wrapped up our local association’s Multi-Piano concerts this past weekend, and I promised last week I’d share some of my favorite repertoire from this year and past years.  I actually decided to just put together a list by level of some of my all-time duet favorites.  Most of these were originally programmed on Multi-Piano concerts; over time I’ve built up a nice library that’s handy come recital time as well.  With this year’s event behind us, I’m now in spring recital planning mode, and this gives me a handy at-a-glance look at what’s on all of my bookshelves!

Elementary/Late Elementary
Simply Silly Duets (Kevin & Julia Olson) – My students love the pieces in both this duet collection as well as the Simply Silly solo book.  There are some great lyrics!!

T.V. Theme Duets (Phillip Keveren) – Cute and accessible arrangements of some old t.v. show themes: Addams Family, Munsters, Brady Bunch, Popeye, among others.

Famous & Fun Pops Series (Carol Matz) – There are several books in this series.  We get a LOT of mileage out of these every year at spring recital time.

Hats off to You (Melody Bober) – Lots of fun styles, and accessible for elementary students.

Early to Mid-Intermediate
Dances for Two (Catherine Rollin) – There are two books in this series, as well as two other volumes of solo books.  ALL of them make for good recital pieces.

Classics for Piano Duet (George Peter Tingley) – There are also two books in this series.  These are nicely balanced – the secondo part always gets the melody at some point, so students learning the part won’t be bored.

Disney Movie Hits for Two – A good collection for those kids who LOVE Disney tunes.  I have students who learned some of these pieces years ago who can still play them by memory (some days I like that more than others!!).

A handful of sheets that are favorites with my early intermediate kids (most of these sound harder than they really are, which is great at that level!):
Broadway Lights (Robert Vandall)
Turquoise Skies (Robert Vandall)
Western Trail (Shirley Mier)
Stompin’ (Sharon Aaronsen)

Mid- to Late-Intermediate
Dynamic Duets (Melody Bober) – There are two books in this series, and I don’t think there’s a single piece in either book I don’t like.   These really get students to play expressively.

Pirates of the Caribbean – This is one of a big library of “Piano Duet Play-Along” books by Hal Leonard.  We used this on a multi-piano concert last year, and students LOVED it.  Some pops pieces just feel good on the piano. (Here’s a clip of one piece from the book).

The Way We Danced, 1p 4h version (Eugenie Rocherolle) – I’d dare anyone to play “Jitterbug” from this book and not smile.  Some really fun dance styles.  The book is labeled “Early Advanced”, but my intermediate students have been able to play most of these pieces without much trouble.

I have a number of sheets at this level that are definite “keepers” in my studio:

Rhapsody Grandioso (Melody Bober) – This one warrants a special mention.  I love, love, LOVE this piece of music!  We used it for our opener on this year’s Multi-Piano concerts, so I’ve been listening to it for nearly 6 months now, and think I could still enjoy hearing this piece once a week at lessons for many more months to come.  Here’s a clip of it on one of our concerts.

Valse Elegante (Glenda Austin)
Carnival for Two (Catherine Rollin)
Fantastique (Myra Brooks Turner) *This is for 2 pianos*
Hopak (Mussorgsky/arr. Olson)
Big River Barn Dance (Carrie Kraft)
Prayer for Peace (David Karp)

Advanced Levels
Carnival of the Animals (1p, 4h) – This one is a bit on the pricey side, but well worth it – the “Aquarium” alone makes up for it!

Jazz Suite (Kevin Olson) – This suite has 4 movements, done in contrasting jazz styles.  It’s accessible for an early advanced player.

Greensleeves (Frank Mantooth)Not your typical setting of this folk song!  Lots of jazz and contemporary elements.

A Carmen Celebration (Bizet/arr. Olson) – This mini-suite covers many well-known themes from the opera.  Big, flashy and easier than it sounds.

Improvisation on Ode to Joy (Mark Hayes) – This requires 2 pianos, but makes a fantastic recital closer!

C.S. Theme and Variations (Randall Compton) – Another good recital closer.  These variations on “chopsticks” include lots of gimmicks and “big” sounding playing.

If you have favorite pieces that I haven’t mentioned, please leave a comment below… I’d love to add to my list!  I’d also love to hear from any of you involved with local “monster” or multi-piano concert events about pieces that have been crowd favorites.  I’m always on the lookout for fun new duets!!



Duet Favorites — 6 Comments

  1. I love getting lists of tried and true pieces! Thank you! Also we have recital next week and this year’s favorite is a wonderful Trio for beginners. It requires the students to use the correct fingering or else they will mess up their neighbor as all share the same piano. Have you ever tried “Chopsticks for Three” by Eric Steiner?

    • Tami –

      I’m going to go find that piece! It sounds like something that would be really fun to put together in a group lesson. Love the idea of a piece that MAKES elementary kids pay attention to fingerings. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!


  2. Jen,
    Thanks for this great list. What a help this is.
    Have you tried Sparklers (1 p/ 4h) by Susan Ogilvy? The student parts are easy and the teacher parts really fill it out. Favorites: Picnic Ants, Chips & Queso, Treasure Island, Antique Carousel

    • Hi Nancy –

      Thanks for the suggestion! For some reason, the name “Sparklers” is familiar, but I don’t think I’ve every played through those pieces. I will have to investigate!!


  3. My students are just finishing up duets and I love, love, love what they have to learn in order to play ensemble!! The duet Sparklers by Robert Vandall is a very nice piece! Parts alone are kind of boring, but together sound wonderful. Also, different from many of his duets, is the fact that there is no unison between hands playing (both right and left hands playing same thing an octave apart). Another duet is Peppermint Ice Cream by Stephen Fiess. Very catchy sound! I’m taking all your recommendations and re-filling my duet library!

  4. For advanced duets some of Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances (opus 46) are really good. The No. 8 in g minor is so much fun to play – I’d probably call it early advanced. The great part is that they are in the public domain and thus available for free on sites such as the Petrucci Library (IMSLP).


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