Sydney International Piano Competition 2023
Australian repertoire suggestions
The Australian Music Centre, in collaboration with the Sydney International Piano Competition, has compiled the following suggestions of suitable Australian compositions to be included in the competition programs of the 2023 Competition. Seven noted Australian pianists have suggested works and provided some words about each composition. Added to their selection are some recent scores from the AMC's Represented and Associate artists.
Australian repertoire for solo piano is a wonderfully rich territory to explore, and these works are a very small sample of hundreds of works for solo piano in the AMC's collection. This huge collection can be perused by filtering your results based on level of difficulty, duration, year of composition etc. Use the Repertoire navigator to make your own lists by using the tools in the sidebar on the left.
Australian works commissioned by the Sydney International Piano Competition over the years are listed in the sidebar on the right, with links to further information on AMC Online. The Competition also has a dedicated page for Australian composition.
Most of the works listed on this page are available directly from the AMC, and you can order them online or by telephoning us: 1300 651 834. Scores are published on demand, and usually sent by post. Some scores may be available for purchase as a digital download. In many cases you can listen to a sample, look at a page of a PDF score prior to purchasing, or purchase a commercial CD or an MP3 file.
AMC members can also access perusal scores as digital library loans to help select repertoire. However, after you've made your selection, you'll need to purchase the score that you intend to program.
For published scores with no pricing details announced on the website, please contact us for purchase information.
Suggested Australian repertoire
Some recent solo piano works by contemporary Australian composers include:
Michael Kieran Harvey - Four Ballades (2021)
In the interests of cohesion the Ballades have opening notes that are a transposition of J.S.Bach's famous musical signature (B.A.C.H.), and are all based on a freely harmonised twelve-tone row stated in octaves at the opening of the first Ballade. This row generates a prime number obsession throughout the set. There is also a tight narrative through each Ballade that suggests a literary journey, but there are no specific programs despite the contrasting characters of each work.
Tim Dargaville - Unfolding to an infinite number (2021)
The work is a series of episodes based on a tendril-like idea presented at the outset. Built into the opening idea are gently unfolding musical patterns alluding to favourite familiar piano figurations, also designed to audibly express the spatial dimensions of the Fibonacci series in semiquaver units. These patterns then seed episodes of increasing pianistic virtuosity, proportionally expanding outwards, varying and miniaturising the opening patterns in increasing dimensions.
Yitzhak Yedid - La Ballerina del Diavolo (2019)
La Ballerina Del Diavolo (The Devil's Ballerina) is about an imaginary, but somehow also realistic, scenario of the tensions that we as humans experience between the 'good' and 'bad' components of our beings. This 'badness' is represented in my work by a ballerina, a visual embodiment of inner psychosis. It is in human nature to want to be 'the best', to want to 'lead', to want to be 'the winner'. Sometimes it feels like our life is in constant competition, perhaps real, or perhaps imagined. I wonder, is the ballerina a hypochondriac, or is she just documenting what she witnesses in our society?
The following works have been suggested by noted Australian pianists and pianist-composers. We've encouraged them to include works of their own in their selection, where applicable:
Jeanell Carrigan, pianist
Mark Isaacs – Miniature and Variations
This is a set of four works – three quite short followed by a wonderful set of variations. The piano writing is quite virtuosic but extremely playable due to the fact that the composer is an excellent pianist. Very attractive work of 10’ duration.
Elena Kats-Chernin – Variations in a serious Black Dress or Purple Prelude
Both of these works are of a professional difficulty written by a composer who writes well for the piano. Kats-Chernin has a distinctive voice and any of her works of this standard would be a good choice.
Tamara Anna Cislowska, pianist
Percy Grainger: Ramble on Der Rosenkavalier or Scotch Strathspey and Reel
The Ramble is one of Grainger's most complex and demanding pieces, also probably his best for piano. It requires very detailed voicing and shape as well as being quite virtuosic. Scotch Strathspey and Reel is a five-minute showpiece requiring dexterity and good characterisation.
Elena Kats-Chernin: The Schubert Blues or Variations in a Serious Black Dress
Schubert Blues requires a range of technical and emotional power, as well as endurance. Variations in a Serious Black Dress has a lot of diversity of touch, tone and colour as well as being a work of substantial length.
Mark Isaacs, composer and pianist
Mark Isaacs: Children’s Songs
This work (containing 18 pieces) won the Jean Bogan Prize for Piano Composition. I recorded it for the New York record label Soundbrush Records and Vladimir Ashkenazy wrote a glowing testimonial. Not music for children, but an adult’s reflection of childhood.
Mark Isaacs: Theme & Variations on 'The Snow it Melts the Soonest' (trad.)
On a beautiful folk melody I first heard in the BBC TV production of Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the variations pay homage to Chopin and Rachmaninov while adding in some crunchy modern jazz harmonies.
Stephanie McCallum, pianist
Roy Agnew: Toccata
A wonderful composer for the piano, Agnew produced many beautifully written piano pieces of which the Toccata is a compact and expressive virtuoso example, recalling a rather English version of Debussy in parts.
Nigel Butterley: Uttering joyous leaves
Also written for the Sydney International Piano Competition, this shows an original compositional voice and invites nuance and colour from the performer. The ending builds enormous momentum and completes a formally very satisfying shape. This is a work which maintains its interest over many playings. When I played the London premiere of this in Wigmore Hall, The Times reviewer said it made him want to seek out more of Butterley's music.
Elena Kats-Chernin: Variations in a Serious Black Dress
Substantial in length and exploratory in texture, this is a well-structured piece which manages to be witty and serious by turns. It uses the full range, both of the keyboard and dynamically.
Roger Smalley: Morceau de concours (or indeed, the Piano Concerto No1 if there is time or room).
Vale Roger. This little fairly recent piece was written for the Sydney International Piano Competition and is a brilliant example of a pianist writing well for his instrument. It's quirky, complex, and, when played well, has a lot of audience appeal.
Lisa Moore, pianist
Ian Munro, composer and pianist
Arthur Benjamin: Etudes Composées
Larry Sitsky, composer and pianist
Donald Hollier: any one of the Sonnets
Large-scale dramatic pieces.