“Piano four hands” is a type of piano duet involving two players, playing the same piano simultaneously. It was a very popular form of music making among the middle-class in central Europe, during the late 18th and early 19th century. Famous composers such as Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, and Dvořák originally composed their works for the form. Four hands piano arrangements of excerpts from famous operas and symphonies were also popular during this time, because they could be enjoyed in private homes and “salons”.
Ernst von Dohnányi was born in today’s Bratislava, currently the capitol of Slovakia, which at that time, was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. He considered himself Hungarian, living for many years in Budapest as the head of the famous Liszt Budapest Academy of Music. During World War II, he successfully used his musical position and influence to save many of his Jewish colleagues from Nazi persecution. Ernst spent the last 11 years of his life in the United States as a professor at Florida State University, in Tallahassee.
Romanian violinist and composer, George Enescu, like Mozart, was considered a child prodigy and genius. He was the youngest student ever admitted to the prestigious Vienna Conservatoire, at the age of seven (the official rules state that no one under age 14 is allowed to study there). At the age of ten he gave a private concert at the Court of Vienna, for the Emperor, Franz Joseph. He is the official National Composer of Romania.