Clair de Lune

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    D W on #198962

    Hi all,  any recommendations on an arrangement for Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” not as advanced as Salzedo’s version but as close to the piano original as possibe.  Why is the actual piano version not directly playable on the harp?  Thank you

    emma-graham on #199045

    I play the original! My mum had the piano music so I just learned it from that. I have never looked at the harp versions but I’m guessing the pedalling is easier. Even though I don’t have perfect pitch it’s one of the very few pieces that just sounds “wrong” to me when not in the original key.

    andy-b on #199083

    Hi, D W :

    Yolanda Kondonassis has an excellent version in her book “The Yolanda Kondonassis Collection”. Lots of other good stuff in there, too, including several of Debussey’s other works as well as works by Vivaldi, Bach, Scarlatti, Respighi, Satie, and Chopin.




    • This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by andy-b.
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #200191

    Why is the original not playable? One example is the bass line where it repeats the same two notes over and over again, and Salzedo has the notes move up and down through different octaves. Repeating the same notes over and over again is physically difficult, and the sound gets very dull. It’s buzzy, feels bad, and sounds bad on the harp, in general. Exquisite as the piece is, it’s not that great a harp piece, with those beautiful repeated chords. Only the very best harpists are able to play them with the freedom of tempo and clarity they need.

    Gretchen Cover on #200398

    I think the best arrangement is by Victor Coeur.  It is published by Editions Joubert in a Debussy collection titled “Pour la Harpe.”  In the U.S, it is available at Vanderbilt Music.

    Jerusha Amado on #200459

    Hi Gretchen,

    What level of difficulty is Coeur’s arrangement–  intermediate, upper intermediate or advanced?

    Gretchen Cover on #200460

    I guess the level of difficulty depends on your definition of ability levels.  This version is not as complicated or difficult as Salzedo’s and seems to be more true to the original piano arrangement.  I consider this intermediate/upper intermediate, leaning more towards upper intermediate. But, I don’t want to scare anyone from learning the piece.

    I see from your photo that you play lever harp.  I think with only a little rearranging in a few places and dropping some notes (mainly in chords)  that this is playable on lever harp for a proficient lever harpist.

    I will add that this version starts off with harmonics.  I simply play the beginning up an octave.  I think it sounds better that way.


    Jerusha Amado on #200462

    Thanks, Gretchen, for your help!  I also play pedal harp, so having an arrangement that works for both lever and pedal would be ideal!

    rebekah-atkinson on #200467

    There’s a Barbara Brundage version of Claire de Lune that isn’t too hard or too simple, sounds pretty nice, and works on both pedal and lever harp.

    balfour-knight on #200484

    Hello all,

    Very good posts!  I just wanted to add that Angi Bemiss and I did a very playable easy arrangement of Claire de Lune a few years back, available in several different keys.  Please contact her at Simply the Harp (in Atlanta, GA) for information about obtaining any of our arrangements.

    Happy Harping and Hugs,


    Gretchen Cover on #200485

    I know Barbara and have her  must-have Classics on Requests books (lever or pedal). She tries to stay as close to the original piece as possible but make her arrangements playable on lever harp…I wonder how I missed her Claire de Lune?  I checked and it is an intermediate arrangement.  Available from most harp vendors.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #200845

    I have just found some new fingerings that make Salzedo’s edition much easier to play.

    Gretchen Cover on #200900

    I just received an email from Barbara Brundage about her lever harp arrangement of Claire de Lune.  She said this is basically the Couer version but in D.  She also said she “had to get a little creative at the key change.”  The original key is Db.  If you go to Sylvia Woods’ website, you can see the first two lines. Like the Couer edition, the piece starts with double harmonics.  Personally, I like the harmonics played up an octave as regular notes.

    BTW, I did not realize that Marcel Grandjany made a transcription of Claire de Lune published by Lyra Music.

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