This is an except from Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 by Liszt from John Thompson's Grade 3 (The key signature of this section is F Major):

Is playing this passage with two hand really necessary? or is it more a pedagogical decision to arrange it that way?

3 Answers 3


Mostly it's due to the fingering, which you'll notice only makes use of fingers 1, 2, and 4 on each hand. These are the more powerful fingers, which reflects the quasi-accented nature of these notes in the line. If you played it with one hand you'd likely be using 3 and 5 a lot, and 5 for sure is a weaker finger for most pianists.

I would also say it's being used just to keep the activity more symmetrical between the hands. Those are the only staffs on the score at that point; there's nothing going on, so there's no point in letting the right hand do all the work while the left takes a break. Most fingerings are editorial (especially in academic arrangements), and I've seen this behavior in the edition I have of Bach's WTC I Bb Major Prelude as well.

  • -1: It has nothing to do with finger strength (5 is used so often as the melody finger that its strength must be sufficient for higher level pianists). It has everything to do with ease of playing. Playing that passage well at speed with one hand is quite difficult.
    – mjibson
    May 23, 2012 at 18:14
  • @mjibson Really? There are no intervals larger than a 6th in that line. Also consider that this is a pedagogical arrangement, so finger strength is not a certainty. If you have a different rationale for the use of 2-4 instead of 3-5, feel free to supply that in an answer.
    – NReilingh
    May 23, 2012 at 20:47
  • I agree with mjibson. It's not bad in terms of intervals, but try finding a good fingering for it. The best 1 handed fingering I can work out atm is 45242413451512 and that's hard to play fast. Also, it'll be hard to play that staccato. Jul 11, 2012 at 4:28

It gives a better staccato articulation, there's also always a difference in hands when striking a key.

To me it is also easier to play with two hands, and you can play considerably faster this way.

  • can you please elaborate on your claim "there's also always a difference in hands when striking a key"?
    – iddober
    May 18, 2012 at 14:51

In this passage, the composer is showing that there are actually two lines of music happening simultaneously. The left hand is playing the bass notes while the right hand is playing the melody. By writing it on two staves and requiring two hands to play, this musical feature is ensured to be heard.

  • Why would writing it on two staves make a difference to how it sounds, if you're playing all the notes on the same instrument?
    – naught101
    May 19, 2012 at 1:17
  • -1: In this example, all notes shown are part of a single melody line. (It's quite recognizable if you play it.) Also notice the cross-staff beaming, which indicates a single line. The two staffs are only being used to indicate which hands should play which notes.
    – NReilingh
    May 19, 2012 at 6:17

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