Beginning of Petrushka

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    unknown-user on #152096

    As a composer/non-harpist I’ve always been confused as to how those repetitive harp figures at the beginning of Petrushka are executed. Those 16ths are going by really quickly and I can’t picture the fingers moving that fast. Is each note actually plucked by a separate finger, or does one finger strum each pair of notes which lie on adjacent strings – or is it something else?


    elinor-niemisto on #152097

    Sometimes, the orchestra harpist has to adapt the printed music to give the “effect” that the composer wanted, if not accurate to the notation.

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #152098

    Stravinsky wrote another version of Petrouchka with two harps, and parts of that don’t work, either. As Elinor says, it’s up to the harpist to edit the part to create the effect that the composer wanted. Read Beatrice Schroeder Rose’s book The Harp In the Orchestra to get more examples of how we adapt standard orchestra parts. For that beginning passage, I just play the top line, and if there’s a 2nd harpist, he or she takes the bottom line. I practiced it with both lines, but it is very tiring and doesn’t make the slightest difference to the overall sound. It’s supposed to be a chaotic scene at a fair, and the harp is buried in the orchestration.

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