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Sydney International Piano Competition 2020

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 2020 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. Check out our Repertoire navigator, and 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 mentioned on this page are available directly from the AMC, and you can order them online or by telephoning us: +61 2 9935 7805 or freecall (inside Australia) 1300 651 834. Scores are published on demand, and usually sent by post. Some scores may be available for purchase as a digital download. Make sure to study the various samples and products available on website pages linked to below - in many cases you can listen to a sample, look at a page of a pdf score, 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

Melody Eötvös - Piano Sonata No. 1 The Demoiselle D'Ys (2016)
Aristea Mellos - Sonata (2016)
Melody Eötvös's and Aristea Mellos's Sonatas were commissioned by the Australian pianist Bernadette Harvey for her 'Sonata Project'. The CD featuring these works is available from the AMC Shop, as are ePDF scores of the works - simply follow the links above. Read more about both works in the AMC's Resonate magazine.

Helen Gifford - Shiva, the auspicious one (2012)
Helen Gifford's travels to India early in her creative life have had a lasting influence on her music. Shiva, the auspicious one was written for the Australian pianist and composer Michael Kieran Harvey who premiered it in 2012. A CD of his performance is available from the AMC Shop.

Stuart Greenbaum - Satellite mapping (2012)
In 2006 Google Earth was in its infancy, providing an unprecedented way to view the Earth as satellite images. Zooming in, the image would be pixilated, then gradually filled in with detailed resolution. Satellite Mapping (2012) attempts to capture that process of detail gradually revealed. A score and a CD are available from the AMC.

Kate Moore - Sliabh beagh : Last man of the land (2015)
This work was commissioned by the US-based Australian pianist Lisa Moore, who premiered it at the Canberra International Music Festival in 2015. The work also exists as a version for piano with a singing part - you can watch Lisa perform this version on Youtube. The score is available from the AMC as ePDF and hard copy.

Chris Williams - Toccare (2017)
Chris Williams's Toccare: Ricercar dopo una fuga dopo a morte seeks out - by touch ('toccare') - the remnants of a fugue long after the death of its original composer Chopin. The work won the Composition Prize of the Australian International Chopin Competition 2017. The work is available from the AMC as ePDF and hard copy.

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 IsaacsMiniature 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-CherninVariations 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.

Mark GrandisonNarratives and Detours
This is an exacting but interesting work, well constructed and based on two opposing musical figures.

Meta OvermanSonatina
Three short, interconnecting movements with contrasting characters.  Despite its non-tonal base, a really attractive work and pianistically written.

Roger SmalleyThree Studies in Black and White
To celebrate the work of this wonderful composer it would be a fitting tribute to incorporate one of his compositions.

Tamara Anna Cislowska, pianist

Roy Agnew: Sonata Ballade 
A substantial work requiring a wide range of skill and emotion.

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.

Miriam Hyde: Firewheel
A work in an etude style, requiring a nimble and facile finger technique.

Mark Isaacs, composer & pianist

Andrew Ford: The Waltz Book
Captivating and charming miniatures from the versatile and always thoughtful Andrew Ford.

Raymond Hanson: Piano Sonata Op. 12
The sonata is meaty and romantic, pianistic and brilliant. Raymond Hanson is a truly great Australian composer, too often overlooked.

Raymond Hanson: Episodes on an English Folk Tune (Tarry Trowsers)
Wonderful musings from the great Raymond Hanson.

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.

Moya Henderson: Cross Hatching
Sensitive and intuitive, this creatively lush piece invites warmth and cantabile playing while maintaining perpetual motion and forward drive.

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

Don Banks - Pezzo Dramatico
Attractive, pianistic sonorous expressive character piece with some jazz-inflected chords

Gerard Brophy - Angelicon
Virtuoso character piece requiring delicate piano techniques and dramatic sonorous effects.

Brett Dean - Equality and Prayer (played as a set)
Two contrasting ironic theatrical piano solo works requiring speaking and playing together. Words by Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig.

Elena Kats-Chernin - Tast-en
Delicate humorous work, demanding fast virtuoso skills and extended, subtle pedal effects.

Michael Smetanin - Stroke
Tour de force pianistic virtuoso work of high energy, intensity and endurance.

Ian Munro, composer and pianist

Arthur Benjamin: Etudes Composées

Mark Isaacs: Preludes for Piano, Book I; Preludes for Piano, Book II

Ian Munro: Blue Rags

Michael Smetanin - Stroke

Larry Sitsky, composer and pianist

Don Banks: Pezzo Dramatico
a serial style concert piece.

Raymond Hanson: Preludes op. 11
This is very effective short set of pieces - of longer pieces by Hanson, there is both the Sonatina and the Sonata.

Donald Hollier: any one of the Sonnets
Large-scale dramatic pieces.

Larry Sitsky: Piano Sonata No.1; Piano Sonata No. 2
Virtuosic, shortish sonatas.




Works commissioned
by Sydney International
Piano Competition

Nigel Butterley - Uttering Joyous Leaves (1981)

Peter Sculthorpe - Mountains (1981)

Larry Sitsky - Arch (Fantasia No. 4) (1980)

Graham Hair- Under Aldebaran (1984)

Bozidar Kos - Kolo (1984)

James Penberthy - Clocks (1983)

Peter Sculthorpe - Harbour Dreaming (2000 - previously titled Between Five Bells)

Elena Kats-Chernin - Page Turn (2000)

Brenton Broadstock - Torre di forza (Tower of Strength) (2003)

Gordon Kerry - Figured in the Drift of Stars (2003)

Andrew Ford - Thin Air (2007)

Roger Smalley - Morceau de concours (2007)

Anne Boyd - Kabarli Meditation (Dawn) (2011)

Carl Vine - Toccatissimo (2011)

suggested by

Jeanell Carrigan

Tamara Anna Cislowska

Mark Isaacs

Stephanie McCallum

Lisa Moore

Ian Munro

Larry Sitsky