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Play the last minute of Piano Solo Number 8 - Skallagrimsson as performed live by pianist James Lowe.
Composer: David Heuser
Year Composed: 1989
Duration: 6 minutes, 45 seconds
Cost: Purchase: $7.00
Premiere: James Lowe, piano, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, April 1,
Skallagrimsson was written in September of 1989. It is in four sections and is
about 6'45" in duration.
The first two sections work with similar material and moods, and they form a larger part of the
whole. The piece opens with a bass ostinato which forms the underpinning to the first part and
the basis for much of the material of the piece. The fierce opening music is alternated with bell-like chords which punctuate the larger phrases. The second section is staccato throughout, and, in
imitative fugue-like presentations, introduces a new expression of the opening material, this one
in jerky rhythms. After dropping the fugue and building in intensity, the first half of the piece
ends with the ostinato and bell-like chords returning.
In the transition into the next section, the opening aggressive music evaporates up into the
highest part of the piano. The third part of the piece contrasts the earlier two; it is soft, slow and
lyrical. Even this builds to an agitated state however, and, after a climax, the bell-like music
(now more fully realized) bridges into the final section.
This last bit is like the first half of the piece (particularly the second part) but now pushed to
maximum. The piece ends with a flourish of sixteenth notes harking back to the ostinato and the
The name of the work comes from the title character of Egil's Saga, Egil Skallagrimsson. Egil's
Saga, one of the major Icelandic sagas, was written around 1230 AD, possibly by Snorri
There is also a version of this piece for piano and tape called Skallagrimsson