Magrath vs. Hinson in a Nutshell

Two of the most popular reference books for piano teachers are Jane Magrath’s The Pianist’s Guide To Standard Teaching and Performance Literature and Maurice Hinson’s Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire

Here’s a very brief comparison of the two works. NOTE: I have the 3rd edition of the Hinson. Information about the most recent (4th) edition is based upon information taken from Amazon.com.

Jane Magrath: The Pianists Guide to Standard Teaching ad Performance Literature

Organization: By style period (Baroque to 20th Cent) and alphabetical within style period.
Levels: 1-10. Level 1: Microcosmos Book 1. Level 5: Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. Level 6: Clementi Op. 36, Burgmuller Op. 100. Level 10: Bach Sinfonias, easiest Chopin Nocturnes.
Copyright: 1995
Number of Pages: My edition has 568 pages. Amazon says there are 584 pages — I’m not sure why the difference.
Indices: Publishers, Composers
Notes: Magrath often comments briefly on each work within an opus, noting issues important to piano teachers, and suggests an appropriate level of difficulty. Number of pages per style period: Baroque: 48, Classical: 66, Romantic: 136, 20th Century: 296.
Binding: Paperback
Price: Retail $30.99 according to Alfred.com. Amazon as of today: $16.38
Additional Note: Magrath has also compiled and edited several repertoire collections for piano students.
Fun Fact: The name “Magrath” is pronounced as if it’s spelled “McGraw”.

Maurice Hinson: Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire

Organization: Alphabetical by composer
Levels: Easy, Intermediate, Moderately Difficult, Difficult
Copyright: 3rd ed. 2000 4th ed.: 2013
Number of pages: 3rd ed. 911, 4th ed: 1216
Appendix: Historical Recital Programs
Indices: Alphabetical List of Composers by Nationality, Black Composers, Women Composers, Compositions for Piano and Tape, Compositions for Prepared Piano, Title Index to Anthologies and Collections.
Notes: Hinson’s entries for each composer are far more extensive than Magrath’s, and there are far more composers in his book. The 3rd edition is divided into two sections: Part 1 Listing by composer; 828 pages. Part 2: Listings of Anthologies. 69 pages.
Binding: Cloth, eBook
Price: Cloth edition: Retail $48 from Indiana University Press. Amazon today: $62.64 (I’m not sure why Indiana University Press would be less expensive than Amazon.) Also available as eBook: Kindle $51.99 and via IU Press: $64.99.
Additional Note: Hinson has many other books of interest to pianists and piano teachers.

Some thoughts

Which to purchase? If you have neither, I say start with the Magrath, use it a bit, and then if you’re really hungry for more, go for the Hinson. Hinson, it seems to me, is for the heavy hitters — those who teach at universities, or who teach many advanced students, who have or wish to have a very broad knowledge of the literature. For every-day use, for the average studio (a class to which I belong), the Magrath has quite a bit to keep one busy. Of course one of its weaknesses is that it hasn’t been updated recently. On the other hand, far more pages are devoted to 20th Century literature than to the other style periods, so except for very recent compositions, there is ample information. Never ask me to choose. I once took an online “personality test” and when I came to the question “Are you decisive?” I stared at it for five minutes, unable to figure out whether I should select “yes” or “no”. I’m not making that up.

P.S. There’s also a book by James Friskin and Irwin Freundlich entitled Music For The Piano. I don’t own that book.

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