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As college audtions start to get closer, I'm looking at piano audition pieces. Would Handel's "Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" be a good selection?

  • You would probably do better playing pieces originally written for your instrument, or at least for a keyboard instrument (e.g. the harpsichord). Handel wrote this for two (solo) oboes and string orchestra, and piano arrangements necessarily leave out half of what Handel actually wrote, otherwise they would be unplayable. – user19146 Jul 11 '16 at 2:56
  • Who arranged the work? This might make a difference. While it is important to demonstrate certain standard technical facets and skills, having a work that you have a special feeling for also has its place. A lot depends on the school and their admission requirements. – Phil Freihofner Jul 11 '16 at 4:50
  • That sounds like an answer Aleph, No answers in comments please. – Neil Meyer Jul 11 '16 at 6:38
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I would recommend looking up the particular schools where you're auditioning to see if they have a recommended list. I just briefly searched two schools--Indiana University (Bloomington) and the New England Conservatory--and their lists are pretty similar:

  1. Prelude and Fugue from Bach (NEC only specifies "before 1750").
  2. A complete Classical sonata (IU specifies Beethoven).
  3. A substantial Romantic work.
  4. A 20th- or 21st-century work.
  5. NEC also requires "a fast etude," which IU does not require.

In my experience, this list is pretty standard: Bach, Beethoven, Romantic, Modern, and maybe something else.

As such, your Handel is probably not the wisest choice. For that time period, really your best bet is to stick with a standard Bach prelude and fugue pair.

(Note that this answer assumes you're auditioning for an undergraduate degree.)

  • Handel wrote plenty of music for keyboard, if that's the composer you really want to play - but nothing that is closely comparable with the preludes and fugues from Bach's WTC. But if you really want to show off your playing technique "before 1750", go for one of the more in-your-face Scarlatti sonatas! – user19146 Jul 11 '16 at 5:17

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