I've arranged a 75 minute symphony for solo piano. This piece is obviously very long, as are its four movements, but it can in fact be relatively well divided into smaller, musically cohesive sub-units (like the sonata form's exposition-development-recapitulation). I could divide my arrangement into roughly two dozen subsections of a few minutes each; some of which even make for nice little pieces when performed in isolation.

I am tempted to supply the score with rehearsal markings at those divisions. Rehearsal marks are mainly used for orchestral works but they also serve to divide a longer work into coherent units - and in my case they may very well be useful for practising the solo work too.

However, the original (orchestral) composition had rehearsal markings too: and well over a hundred of them. Every major change in instrumentation is considered a separate segment in the symphony, which makes sense for the orchestra, but those changes are much milder the solo piano version. I prefer larger subdivisions.

If I give the arrangement my own rehearsal marks, is that confusing to any pianists more familiar with the original symphony (which includes a piano part too)? Or is it considered acceptable?

I am asking in part because my main example in making this arrangement has been Liszt's Beethoven symphony arrangements; and they take over the original rehearsal marks from the orchestral score. Then again, Beethoven did not use a hundred of those marks.

  • I don't recall any of the solo piano music I've read having rehearsal markings, FWIW - not even very long pieces.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 12:34
  • @Dekkadeci I won't dispute that. Maybe I am solving a problem that doesn't require solving, but I want to communicate a way to musically divide a long score into more wieldable pieces and I think rehearsal marks are a decent tool - with an explanatory note.
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Jun 7, 2021 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


Based on discussion in the comments, the optimal solution is to use one set of symbols for the piano score rehearsal marks, including the corresponding original orchestral rehearsal marks for reference. A prefatory note at the beginning of the piano score to explain the system will be helpful.

Original post follows.

It depends on the purpose of your score.

Liszt, for example, created his Beethoven transcriptions, in part, as a way of promoting Beethoven in places that didn't have symphony orchestras. In that regard, it makes great sense to keep Beethoven's rehearsal markings so that someone using the piano transcription to become familiar with the piece could understand that aspect of it.

However, in a score intended purely for piano performance, it's fine to place markings useful more specifically to the pianist. Personally, I would appreciate having them the same as in the full score, because I'm likely to want to use the score to inform my interpretation, but if your score is just intended for yourself or for casual pianists, your own markings seem fine.

One option you could consider, is to use the original marks, but a subset of them. That would allow for the best of both worlds: a score convenient for the pianist, but that can be easily mapped to the orchestral version if desired.

Imagining the original score has consecutively numbered rehearsal marks (1, 2, 3, ..., 467, ...), just use the ones you want, but keep the number as in the original (1, 8, 37, 40, ...).

  • 1
    If the arrangement is going to be published, the publisher will have their own ideas about rehearsal marks.
    – PiedPiper
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 21:53
  • @PiedPiper I am as amateur as they come: this arrangement will never go anywhere near a publisher :) But if any pianist comes across my work and considers picking it up, I want to make it easy for them to perform.
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 21:56
  • @Aaron thank you for the answer. It is a good point that the original rehearsal marks will be useful when having the orchestral and piano score side-by-side; however I worry that skipping numbers will make the resultant boxed numbers hard to interpret (and they are easy enough to confuse with measurement numbers as is). I could perhaps use the orchestral numbers but in a smaller font, and then my custom marks as a separate set, using the letters of the alphabet?
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 21:58
  • 3
    @KeizerHarm I like that idea. Use, say, letters for your own marks and place the original orchestral marks next to them in a smaller font, or parentheses — something to distinguish them. Include a prefatory note in the score to explain, and I think you've got a solid system.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jun 6, 2021 at 22:00

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