Skip to page content


Listen to audio:

Composed: 2017

Orchestration: 2 flutes (2nd=piccolo), oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets (2nd=bass clarinet), bassoon, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (triangle, crotales, glockenspiel, marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, egg-shaker, tambourine, two pieces of wood, snare drum, brake drum, tom-toms, bass drum, tam-tam, table of muted metals including upside-down crotales, triangle, and tin cans), harp, strings, and piano duo

About this Piece

I first met Katia and Marielle Labèque during rehearsals for a concert we shared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel several years ago. The orchestra was premiering a recent work of mine, paired with Katia and Marielle performing Philip Glass’ Concerto for Two Pianos. During that week in Los Angeles I became acquainted with their incredible playing and profoundly open and inspiring musical universe. I had also recently moved to Paris, and Katia and Marielle would quickly become a second family to me in France. Soon after that, we started planning our future collaboration, which materialized with my Concerto for Two Pianos.

The piece was composed for Katia, Marielle, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra throughout 2017, with a large portion of the development taking place in Katia and Marielle’s piano studio on the rue Quincampoix in Paris and their house on the Basque coast, where they spend most of the summer. I spent a lot of time familiarizing myself with the repertoire they have performed over the years and doing research on the deeply personal and intertwined musical history and style that they share. I also shared the score with them several times as it developed, to get their feedback and to be sure the ideas were translating well to the piano. I had previously composed a 20-minute piano duo for them in 2015 called El Chan, which they have toured extensively and recorded. Working on this first duo piece together was a great learning experience for me, in shaping how to address the challenges of writing for two pianos.

My Concerto is a tribute to two great musicians who I am honored to work with and who I am even luckier to call my friends. —Bryce Dessner