In a programme note for the US premiere of Five Pianos (originally called Pianos and Voices I) in October 1972, Feldman wrote:
"[Five Pianos] began by finding myself humming tones while improvising on the piano. The vocal or humming sounds were quite short, and as the piano sounds lingered, I began to hear other pianos, other humming. Two, three, four pianos were too transparent - the fifth piano became like the pedal blur needed to complete the overall sound I was after. An occasional celeste was added to give the music a more heightened (or brighter) surface which emerges and disappears throughout the work. A recurring ostinato heard in all the pianos (the figure never repeats itself in the same tempo) is another aspect of a "surface" appearing and dissolving into this almost flat, Byzantine canvas."
The performance below took place at St John's Smith Square, London, on January 5th 1973. It was recorded from a radio broadcast on April 12th 1973. The pianists were Harrison Birtwistle, Stephen Savage, Roger Smalley, John Tilbury, and Feldman himself.