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That first inspiring work....

  • Unknown
    Unknown User

    I'm putting together an education project for schools, a series of solo concerts, and I wanted some advice from students and teachers.

    I was thinking back to that first harp work that I heard when I was a young thing, the piece that made me think i really wanted to play harp. For me it was the Debussy Danses, and then the Ravel Introduction and Allegro...consolidated that feeling, as it was ensemble playing that tended to do it for me....more so than solo repertoire.

    I think the first solo work I that really inspired me was the Tailleferre sonata, and coming close second the Caplet Divertisement L'Espagnole..my goodness, what a serious young thing I was! But I doubt that many people woud share that...and I cannot play a whole program of modern works. I want to show some breadth.

    So, I was wondering if anyone out there would like to share that moment when they heard that first work that really inspired them, what it was and what touched the about it. What do you feel it showed about the harp, and what made you think...gosh I want to do that! As I really do want to pick and inspiring program to show the range the harp is capable of.

    Cheers.

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    replies to "That first inspiring work...."
    • Tony
      Tony Morosco

      Well, I didn't start intending to play classical. I fell in love with Irish harp music. But in my area when I wanted lessons my only options were classically trained harpists. Fortunately I found one who was more than happy to indulge my desire to play Celtic music, and in the process opened my mind up to both classical and jazz.

      So the piece that first made me think I wanted to play the harp was Carolan's Farewell to Music. It was one of the first real pieces of music that I learned that I picked out myself and I have to say, it is still the piece that I can play the best still today.

      I think I like it because he wrote with such a perfect blending of traditional Irish style and Baroque. It was definitely Irish, but with a special something that you don't see in other Irish music. And it is by far his prettiest piece. One of his contemporaries commented after his death that, of course, O'Carolan saved his best lament for himself..

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    • Andy
      Andy B

      One piece that always stuck out in my mind was Chanson dans la Nuit.  I first saw Mary Brigid Roman play it, and my first harp teacher demonstrated it for me during an early lesson. I couldn't wait to get a pedal harp and learn to play it!  It's always good for showing off a lot of different effects, and is fun to play (at least I always thought so).  People always really took notice when I played it, and I even had a bride request it for the special piece during her wedding!

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    • Diane
      Diane Michaels

      I started one student precisely because she had a recording of Chanson dans la nuit and wanted to learn to play the harp so she could learn this piece.  It was so wonderful helping her realize her dream!

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    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth Volpé Bligh

      When I first heard Mozart's Flute and Harp Concerto, that did it for me. I was a flautist at the time, and played this piece as part of an audition. Right after that, I switched to the harp. However, it took several years before I mastered the harp part! I know it's not Mozart's finest work, but it has a lot of charm, and it was the first time I realized that a harp could play intricate melodies. 

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Thanks Tony! I have some arrangements of O'Carolan by Derek Bell that are rather wonderful. And I will add the Farewell to Music to my program. I'm not just going to play classical music, either. So I'm glad you suggested that.

      I think I will stick to pedal harp... but maybe I should take my "the quirky" (my light strung folk harp) along and do a bracket of O'Carolan tunes...now that's an idea!

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Thanks Diane and Andy...yep, looks like I better hunt out the Chason dans la nuit!

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Actually, there is an arrangement of the second movement for just flute and harp out there..and that gets the cogs moving in my brain,  that I really should take a chamber program around at some point too. As there are alot of young gurls in high school that play flute - in fact,  a teacher pal of mine, said too many. They cannot get them to play anything else!  And it would promote them to think of using harp in chamber music.  

      Thanks!

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    • Kelly
      Kelly R

      For me, it was (and still is) Nocturne by Glinka!

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    • Saul
      Saul Davis Zlatkovski

      The Angel recording by Annie Challan of the Debussy Danses, Ravel Introduction and Allegro, Faure Impromptu, and the Pierne Morceau de Concert convinced me that if those works were in the harp literature, then it was worth learning to play the harp. When I first heard Chanson dans la Nuit I was totally taken with Salzedo. If I'd had the opportunity to really hear the literature for the harp, I don't know what would have been different, but I might have started sooner. I wish I'd been able to hear the Conte Fantastique and solos of Caplet at first, more of Salzedo, and a lot less Godefroid and such.

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    • Lisa
      Lisa McCann

      My first inspiration for harp came when I heard someone my age playing a harp (no idea what piece) live.  I was about 10 years old, and my music club (the "Etudes!") attended a harp demonstration arranged by our mentor in a private home. 

      When I finally started playing the harp many, many years later, my inspiration was a Welsh folk song "Lisa Lan," that I managed to figure out on my lap harp--I was enthralled!  "Lisa Lan" was the inspiration behind Mark Isham's "Sense of Touch" which was a part of the movie "Crash," if you're interested.

      The first classical pieces that really got me were "Rumors de Caleta" and "Prelude" (the last by Bernard Andres).

      I'd have to say that there is NOTHING like hearing a harp in a live setting, the more intimate the better.

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Thanks all. The minute you say these pieces, I say to myself of course! And they are all going on, and I will add a little thankyou to you all in my program for help with the repertoire selections!

      Glinka Nocturne, the Chanson, Rumores de la Caleta are all now on my list! I may put the Impromptu on to, if I have it up with all my other work "stuff".

      Some more folk music is definitely in order and I'll hunt out that Welsh tune you mentioned Lisa.  So, looks like mini harp is going for another outing. Little kids always love a small harp as it is more approachable.

      I'm also thinking that the Salzedo suite of 8 dances..maybe rumba would be a good move. And its interesting Saul, those were all the works that inspired me, seems we love all the same chamber works too. The Caplet is a fabulous fabulous work.

      And yes, Lisa, the more intimate the better, I agree. I was tossing around whether to go for a large venue, or a couple of smaller concerts with smaller groups of kids. And what you have said confirms my feeling...multiple concerts with small groups so they can get up close and personal with the harp.

      Thankyou all very much indeed! I really appreciate all your help - and so far, everything is now on the list...so, you all have exceptional taste!

       

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    • Ken
      Ken H.

           The Irish/Celtic songs Gaelic Air, The Dark Island, AND  Give Me Your Hand. These three peices are simple and beautiful. I heard them about 4 years ago. When I wanted to learn these songs on my mandolin and guitar I was amazed how simple but enchanting   these peices are.  Now I must say that these songs must have the accompianment of the whistles, flutes Octive mandolin, violins etc.  then playing these pieces is very  very spine tingling!

            Another is She bag She mor.  We did this at a session, we had Irish Banjo and Flute players with us(mandolin, two violins, guitar and whistle), I was amazed that such simple songs with the other instruments can sound so beautiful!

           A question:  Carolan wrote poems/lyrics to alot of his songs, on She Bag She Mor, I heard from a source that this was his first composition.  Another source says he wrote the lyrics to this song with title, but the piece  was an older tune that he re arranged.  Alot of his works,poetry as well, has been lost and other songs falsely attributed to him. I also heard that he did not write any of his music down, only done until after his death. 

      I love his songs, I never get tired of them, they have "Magic"!

      Ken H.

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    • rod
      rod anderson

      Hi, Curly.

      It wasn't the piece that inspired me - it was the instrument.  We had a short performance in my school from Osian Ellis and I blame him for the fact that a clarsach wouldn't do - after seeing his, I had to have a pedal harp, and the bigger the better.  I have no idea what he played.

      It might be a good idea to have a range of styles and demonstrate the versatility of the harp outside the traditional filmy stuff, especially if you want to attract boys.  Have you considered using it with other instruments that are already in the school and playing a piano accompaniment to something they already know?  Suppose they have a decent cellist who has learned "The Swan", you could accompany him/her, and that would really make an impact.

      Rod

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Annie Challan performing old harp music(Hochbrucker,Petrini,Krumpholtz) was my first harp album but Zabaleta playing Samuel Rousseau and Roussel,that was a genuine inspiration for me. 

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    • Leonard
      Leonard Lim

      Hi Rosmary!  I think the one that clinched it for me was Salzedo's Variation on a Theme in the Ancient Style.   It's still my fav and will always be. Totally swept me off my feet when I first heard my teacher play it.

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Hi Helio,

      Yes me too! I had an album of Zabaleta playing french works, Samuel Rousseau, Tailleferre, Ravel, Roussel and I used to listen to it over and over. His phrasing and expression was always so intensely passionate but also "honest"...I no longer have a copy of that recording and still hope that it may be re released on CD. But eventually I'll track it down in Ebay I hope!

      You know, I have never heard Annie Challans recordings, but so many people have mentioned her I think I really need to hunt out a recording of her.

      Thanks.

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Hi Ken,

      You Ken, Lisa and Tony, have convinced me I'll be taking my folk harp along and playing some traditional tunes.

      Yes, I heard that about O'Carolan too. What I heard was that in some ways his music is not considered by some purists to be folk music. As folk music is traditional tunes that have been passed down over time. And that O'Carolan composed his music, they were original compositions.

      Others say that all folk music is composed by someone at some point in time..so that it is being a bit particular excluding O'Carolan just because he is close enough in time for us to know he did the composing...Also, they have been passed down to us through the folk tradition, it was folk players that learnt them by ear and passed them down before the tunes were finally collected and writtten down. But it was only the melodys that are written down, and we really do not know what harmonies he used. Although his melodies tend to imply certain progressions.

      It is so interesting isn't it? And yes, I love his music too. Thanks so much for your wonderful post.

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Hi Rod,

      That's a great idea! I have been preparing a choral concert with some kids for a posh high school here,and you are right, actually working with the harp is something kids really respond to.

      So, yes, if I can work in accompanying kids with what they are working on that may give them some insight into the harp. That may be a different type of concert, maybe a workshop type set up rather than a performance as such. And that in itself is a terrific idea. A series of Chamber music workshops were we go around and work with the kids and get a concert together at the end....

      Hmmmm. You have got the wheels in my brain ticking over.....Thanks so much!

      Curls.

      And incidentally, you are so lucky to have Osian Ellis come to your school! I have a recording of him playing the Ropartz Prelude Marine et Chanson for Flute, harp and strings and he really was a very fine ensemble player. I still really love that work, and his recording of it.

       

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      Leonard! My little cousin from my part of the world! Yes, the Salzedo Variations are  fabulous! It's a great showpiece for harp, shows so many of the colouristic possibilities, such range and depth.  

      Hope your studies are going well!  

      Cousin Ro.

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    • Unknown
      Unknown User

      When I was first thinking about playing the harp, my dad got me the CD "Solo Harp" by Sunita Staneslow. The song "Tiny Drops of Rain" was what settled it for me. I had to play that song some day!! It is so beautiful!  Unfortunately, I have not been able to get to that point yet. Some day!!Ü

       

      Meleah

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