Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/92
A QUATRE MAINS.
although cultivated to a less extent than might have been expected.
The earliest printed works for the pianoforte à quatre mains of which we have any knowledge were published in Dessau about 1782, under the title 'Drey Sonaten füre Clavier als Doppelstücke fur zwey Personen mit vier Handen von C. H. Müller'; before this however, E. W. Wolf, musical director at Weimar in 1761, had written one or more sonatas for two performers, which were published after his death. So far as is known these were the first compositions of their kind, although the idea of the employment of two performers (but not on one instrument) originated with Sebastian Bach, who wrote three concertos for two pianofortes, or rather harpsichords, three for three, one of which, in D major, is still unpublished, and one for four, all with accompaniment of stringed instruments. But the short compass of the keyboard, which in Bach's time and indeed until about 1770 never exceeded five octaves, was ill adapted to the association of two performers on the same instrument, and it is doubtless on this account that the earlier composers have left so little music of the kind.
Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, appear to have had but little inclination for this description of composition. According to Fétis, Haydn wrote but one piece 'à quatre mains,' a divertissement, which was never published, the two sonatas op. 81 and 86 published under his name being spurious. Of the nine pianoforte duets by Mozart the two finest, the Adagio and Allegro in F minor and the Fantasia in F minor, were originally written for a mechanical organ or musical clock in a Vienna exhibition, and were afterwards arranged for piano by an unknown hand. Beethoven left but one sonata, op. 6, three marches, op. 45, and two sets of variations, none of which are of any great importance.
But of all the great composers Schubert has made the fullest use of the original effects possible to music 'à quatre mains,' some of his most genial and effective compositions being in this form, as for instance the 'Grand Duo,' op. 140, and the 'Divertissement Hongrois,' op. 54. In addition to these he wrote fourteen marches, six polonaises, four sets of variations, three rondos, one sonata, one set of dances, and four separate pieces, all, almost without exception, masterpieces of their kind.
Among modern compositions 'à quatre mains,' those of Schumann and Brahms are the most interesting, Mendelssohn having left but one original work of the kind, although he himself arranged some of his orchestral works and also the octett, op. 20, and the variations for pianoforte and violoncello, op. 83, in this form. Besides writing a number of small pieces for two performers, Schumann made a very novel and successful experiment in his 'Spanische Liebeslieder,' op. 138, which consist of ten pieces for four voices, being songs, duets, and a quartett, with pianoforte accompaniment à quatre mains, and an analogous idea has since been carried out by Brahms, who has written two sets of waltzes (Liebeslieder, opp. 52; 65) for pianoforte à quatre mains, with accompaniment of four voices.Organ music a quatre mains is very rare, although the experiment has been made by Hesse, Höpner, and especially by Julius André, who has written twenty-four pieces for two performers on the organ; but no increased effect appears to be obtainable from such an arrangement which can at all compensate for its practical inconvenience, and the same observation applies to compositions for the pianoforte 'à six mains,' of which a few specimens exist, mostly by Czerny.
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