bluebird of bitterness

Everyone knows the concert band version of “The Stars and Stripes Forever” by John Philip Sousa. Heard less often — probably because it’s so diabolically difficult to play — is the piano transcription by Vladimir Horowitz, which requires one person with ten fingers to cover all of the parts normally played by dozens of musicians on brass, woodwinds, and percussion.

(While picking through various performances of the Horowitz arrangement on YouTube, I found that he was not the only musician audacious enough to turn “The Stars and Stripes Forever” into a piano piece. I found, among other things, a version for three pianists playing one piano, one for four pianists playing two pianos, and another for eight pianists playing four pianos — all of them delightful.)

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