The EIGHT handed piano piece

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By Ellie Palmer

30 January 2020

'Galop Marche' by Albert Lavignac is famed for being written for eight hands

Pianists Cameron Wilkens, Jacopo Giacopuzzi, Coco Leung and Sherry Kim perform the eight handed piano piece at PIANOFEST 2014, New York

 

Have you ever dueted with someone and realised how little space there is?

Usually you end up sharing a stool and have to stretch to reach your notes, especially the ones towards the middle of the piano.

All in all, not the most comfortable playing position to be in, but certainly a lot of fun.

French music scholar and composer Albert Lavignac composed a piece not for four hands but for EIGHT hands back in around 1860.

The piece is called Galop Marche, and quite frankly looks like an absolute joy to play (as you can see in the video above!).

 

Who was Albert Lavignac?

Albert Lavignac pictured here in 1900

 

Lavignac has a fascinating back story.

The Frenchman was born in Paris in 1856. He grew up to teach harmony classes at the Conservatoire de Paris. Mr Claude Debussy turned out to be one of his students.

He was best known for his work, La Musique et les Musiciens. Within this work he characterised each major and minor chord, and gave each one a ‘mood. This work continued to be print for years after his death. Here are a few examples:

B major: Energetic ("énergique")

C major: Simple, naive, commonplace ("simple, naïf, franc, ou plat et commun")

C-sharp minor: Brutal, sinister, or very sombre ("brutal, sinistre ou très sombre")

E-flat minor: Profoundly sad ("profondément triste")

 

Are there any other famous eight-handed piano pieces?

There aren’t too many in existence. Here are the current eight-handed piano pieces in existence, according to IMSLP:

 

The sheet music for Galop Marche is available here. Why not have a go?