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An Early Source of Music Roll Repertoire!

The repertoire of the Pianola is as limitless as that of the piano, and it depends very much on the tastes of the individual player. Even one hundred years ago, it was possible to find music rolls of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book or the Mozart Requiem, of Debussy's Preludes or Bach's '48', and the restrictions of human hands were no obstacle to the arrangers of perforated music. Rex Lawson's own choice of Desert Island Discs might lean slightly towards the romantic composers, but as the main international exponent of the pianola for some thirty years, his repertoire has been built up from a wide variety of different concert projects. It is very important to understand that the pianola is equally at home with Bach or Boulez, ragtime or Rachmaninoff, syncopation or serialism.

The repertoire suggestions which follow have therefore been drawn up with these varied tastes in mind, and a few audio extracts may help any doubting concert promoter to find reassurance or inspiration. These really are only representative suggestions, and any enquiries for particular works are very welcome. Rex Lawson has a music roll library of some 13,000 selections, and he regularly makes his own new rolls, as for example those of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto, which he performed with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra in the summer of 2007.

Concertos and Chamber Music

Madrid 1906 - London 1912 - Paris 1913 - Brussels 2007.

George ANTHEIL:Ballet Mécanique [1925], for Pianola and Percussion mp3
Julio d'ESCRIVAN:AYAYAY! Concerto [2009], for Pianola, iPhone
and Chamber Orchestra
Gabriel JACKSON:Airplane Cantata [2011], for Chamber Choir and Pianola mp3
Maurice JAUBERT:Le Magicien Prodigieux [1927], for Three Sopranos, Pianola
and Percussion
Darius MILHAUD:La Bien Aimée [1928], Ballet Suite for Pianola
and Large Orchestra
Igor STRAVINSKY:Les Noces [original version of 1919], for SATB, Choir,
Pianola, Cimbaloms, Harmonium and Percussion mp3
Paul USHER:Nancarrow Concerto [2004], for Pianola mp3
and Chamber Orchestra
Jan VAN DIJK:Koncert voor Pianola en Orkest, Op. 608 [1978]
James WOOD:Aria, for Pianola and Chamber Ensemble [1976]
BARTOK:Piano Concerto no. 3
BEETHOVEN:Piano Concertos nos 1 to 5
BRAHMS:Piano Concertos nos 1 & 2
DOHNANYI:Variations on a Nursery Theme
GRAINGER:Handel in the Strand
GRIEG:Piano Concerto in A minor
LISZT:Hungarian Fantasy
MENDELSSOHN:Piano Concerto no. 1 in G minor
MOSZKOWSKI:Piano Concerto in E
MOZART:Concerto in Eb for Two Pianos, K 365 (Cadenzas by
Carl Reinecke)
PROKOFIEFF:Piano Concerto no. 2
RACHMANINOFF:Piano Concertos nos 2 & 3
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini mp3
SAINT-SAËNS:Piano Concerto no. 2 in G minor
SAINT-SAËNS:Le Carnaval des Animaux
SCHUMANN:Piano Concerto in A minor
TCHAIKOWSKY:Piano Concerto in Bb
BRAHMS:Liebeslieder Waltzes mp3
MONTSALVATGE:Cinco Canciones Negras
CÉSAR FRANCK:Violin Sonata in A
GRIEG:Violin Sonata no. 3 in C minor
MENDELSSOHN:Piano Trio no. 1 in D minor
NANCARROW:Toccata for Violin and Player Piano
PROKOFIEFF:Five Melodies for Violin and Piano
RACHMANINOV:Cello Sonata in G minor
SCHUMANN:Piano Quintet in Eb
GERSHWIN:Rhapsody in Blue

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Twentieth Century Compositions and Arrangements

Igor Stravinsky working at the Pleyela - c. 1923, Paris.

Arnold BAX:Scherzo for Pianola mp3
Maarten BON:Boréal
John CAGE:4'33" for Player Piano
Alfredo CASELLA:Prelude, Valse et Ragtime pour Pianola
Ingolf DAHL:Quodlibet on American Folk Tunes
Benjamin DALE:Piano Sonata in D minor
Claude DEBUSSY:Jeux
La Mer
Printemps
Manuel de FALLA:Il Sombrero de Tres Picos
Pierre-Octave FERROUD:Foules, Symphonic Poem
Eugene GOOSSENS:Rhythmic Dance for Pianola
Percy GRAINGER:Molly on the Shore
Shepherd's Hey
Jean GRÉMILLON:Tour au Large
Paul HINDEMITH:Toccata and Rondo for Player Piano
Gustav HOLST:The Planets
Artur HONEGGER:Pacific 2-3-1
Herbert HOWELLS:Phantasy Minuet for Pianola
Désiré-Émile INGHELBRECHT:Le Diable dans le Beffroi
Witold LUTOSLAWSKI:Variacje na Tema Paganiniego mp3
Sir Charles MACKERRAS:Pineapple Poll Suite (after Sullivan) mp3
Gian-Francesco MALIPIERO:Tre Improvvisi per Pianola
Darius MILHAUD:Le Boeuf sur le Toit
Scaramouche
Conlon NANCARROW:Complete Studies for Player Piano
Sergei RACHMANINOFF:The Isle of the Dead
Maurice RAVEL:Daphnis and Chloe
Ottorino RESPIGHI:La Boutique Fantasque (after Rossini)
Igor STRAVINSKY:Étude pour Pianola
Re-compositions for Pleyela:
- Concertino
- The Firebird mp3
- Les Noces mp3
- Petrushka mp3
- Pianola-Rag-Music
- Pulcinella
- The Rite of Spring mp3
- The Song of the Nightingale
Ernst TOCH:Three Original Studies for Player Piano

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Modern Composers - Solo Repertoire

John ADAMS:Short Ride on a Fast Machine
Harrison BIRTWISTLE:Harrison's Clocks
Benjamin BRITTEN:Lullaby for a Retired Colonel
Julio d'ESCRIVAN:La Revolcón
Marc-André HAMELIN:Circus Galop
Thomas HEWITT-JONES:Automata for Pianola
Paul HIGGS:Prepared Pianola for Roger Bannister
Gabriel JACKSON:Airplane Toccata
Alexander ROSENBLATT:Variations on a Theme of Paganini
David STANHOPE:Three Folksongs for Pianola
Jan VAN DIJK:Concerto Potpourri
Robin WALKER:Halifax for Pianola

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Jazz and Popular Music

With popular music, it is impossible to list the vast range of jazz, ragtime, song and dance rolls, which cover all styles of repertoire from the 1890s to the present day. Rex Lawson's own roll library contains about 2,000 of these pieces, from Gilbert and Sullivan, via Joplin and Fats Waller, to Gershwin, Ellington and beyond. Some of the most frequently requested titles are listed below.
GEORGE BOGATKO:The Trackerbar Stomp mp3
DEBUSSY:Clair de Lune - Popular Rhythm Version (J. Lawrence Cook)
DUKE ELLINGTON:Ellington Medley (Marion McPartland)
GERSHWIN:American in Paris (Frank Milne)
Rhapsody in Blue
GILBERT ANDPineapple Poll (Sir Charles Mackerras) mp3
SULLIVAN:Savoy Memories (Harry Derry)
Trial by Jury Selection (Harry Derry)

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Classical and Romantic - Solo Repertoire

BACH:The 48 Preludes and Fugues
Chaconne in D minor, BWV 1004 (Ferruccio Busoni)
Concerto in D minor, BWV 1060 (Rex Lawson) mp3
Many organ works, in special pianola arrangements, e.g.:
- Fantasia & Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 (Rex Lawson)
- Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 (Anon, Berlin)
- Prelude & Fugue in G, BWV 541 (Esther Willis)
- Prelude & Fugue in A minor, BWV 543 (Jacques Brillouin) mp3
- Prelude & Fugue in C minor, BWV 546 (Rex Lawson)
BALAKIREV:Islamey
BEETHOVEN:Symphonies nos. 3, 5 and 6 (Jacques Larmanjat)
Symphony no. 7 (Roger Féry)
CHABRIER:Espana, arr. Camille Chévillard
CHOPIN:Etudes, Nocturnes, Scherzos, Waltzes, etc mp3
DUKAS:The Sorcerer's Apprentice
KREISLER:Liebesfreud and Liebesleid, arr. Rachmaninoff
MENDELSSOHN:Scherzo from Midsummer Night's Dream mp3
MOSZKOWSKI:Hommage à Schumann
Introduction and Allegro for Aeolian Organ
Numerous Concert Waltzes
MOZART:Fantasia in F for Mechanical Organ, K608
MOZART/BUSONI:Duettino Concertante mp3
RACHMANINOFF:Piano Sonata no. 2, Op 36
Polka de W.R.
Twelve Preludes, Op. 23 mp3
Suite for Two Pianos, Op. 17 mp3
SCHULZ-EVLER:Arabesques on the Blue Danube by Johann Strauss mp3
SMETANA:Sonata for Two Pianos, Eight Hands
RICHARD STRAUSS:Till Eulenspiegel (Hermann Ley)

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Reproducing Piano Concertos

Percy Grainger in Rehearsal with the Bergen Philharmonic - 12 June 2007, Bergen.

In parallel with his career as a pianolist, Rex Lawson has also specialised in reviving the performances of historic pianists, including concertos with live orchestra. He began this activity in 1972, when Percy Grainger performed the Grieg Piano Concerto at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, a performance that Grainger repeated at the Last Night of the Proms in 1988, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. However, there are several other historic concerto performances available for live accompaniment, as can be seen in the following list. A Duo-Art instrument is used, belonging to the Pianola Institute, and this fits in front of a normal concert grand piano, providing a wide dynamic range suitable for a full symphony orchestra.
CÉSAR FRANCK:Symphonic Variations, played by Alfred Cortot
CHOPIN:Concerto no. 1 in E minor, played by Josef Hofmann
GERSHWINRhapsody in Blue, played by George Gershwin
GRIEG:Concerto in A minor, played by Percy Grainger mp3
LISZT:Concerto no 1 in Eb, played by Rudolph Ganz
MENDELSSOHN:Concerto no. 1 in G minor, played by Wilhelm Backhaus
SAINT-SAËNS:Concerto no. 2 in G minor, played by Harold Bauer
TCHAIKOVSKY:Concerto no. 1 in Bb minor, played by Percy Grainger

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