Classical Music Transcriptions for Lever Harp?

Posted In: Amateur Harpists

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    unknown-user on #162606

    Does anybody out there have any recommendations on more advanced classical music for the lever harp? I love classical/baroque music and have been on the lookout for pieces I can play on my 34-string harp, but I’ve mostly been disappointed. Most of the publications I’ve found tend to shy away from lever changes. Often this means the most beautiful parts of a piece get left out! I’m willing to play some of them just for background music, but if you’re trying to really listen to it you feel let down by the incompleteness. I realize that quite a bit of classical music is just unsuited for lever harp, but I can’t afford a pedal harp. I’m not scared of lever changes- lately I’ve been transcribing some music on my own and leaving in as many accidentals as I can!

    If anyone knows of any transcriptions of whole classical pieces for lever harp, I’d love to know!

    liath-hollins on #162607

    Definitely! There’s quite a bit out there. The best are Barbara Brundage’s series of books, which don’t sacrifice the feel of the original pieces, aren’t shy on the lever changes. There is also Dewey Owens’ book of advanced wedding music for lever harp, which contains lots of interesting pieces. Bonnie Shaljean has some great classical arrangements too, which I’ve found challenging and really enjoyed playing. Plus, there are Dominic Bouchard’s series of books, from which many of the set pieces for the Associated Board non-pedal syllabus at high grades are taken.

    I’ve found that I can often work from pedal harp music. While I obviously can’t manage drastic key changes, modulations and accidentals are usually work-in-able – or work-round-able – especially if you keep the left hand close to the levers.

    tony-morosco on #162608

    I am going to second Barbara Brundage’s arrangements. They are by far my favorites. It was always a chore to find good classical arrangements for lever harp until I found her books. Particularly her transcriptions of Debussy. Outstanding.

    When I play them people who have an understanding of music are surprised that I am playing them on a lever harp they sound so true to the original feel of the pieces.

    barbara-brundage on #162609

    *blush* Thanks, Tony and Liath!

    One thing I would like to point out: I see a lot of lever harpists knocking themselves out to play from pedal harp transcriptions, when it’s the very changes that the arranger made to make the piece more idiomatic for pedal harp that make it hard for levers (transposition to key with tons of flats, enharmonic doublings and substitutions, for example).

    So for music originally written for keyboard, you are often better off going back to the original, although a pedal harp transcription can be very helpful for fingering.

    tula-ruggiero on #162610

    You would probably love the Basically Bach book by Rhett Barnwell. Many many lever changes! (on some pieces) for you to have fun with. The prelude from the cello suite will really give you a challenge.

    kay-lister on #162611

    I agree that Barbara as well as Rhett produce WONDERFUL books of classical music for the lever harp.

    unknown-user on #162612

    Wow! Thanks to all of you for the suggestions and advice! I’m excited to try it all.

    Are there also arrangements for lever harp accompaniments to other instruments? I am a member of a large and very musical family; we would all love to find arrangements for harp accompanying flute, violin, viola, piano, accordion (have you ever heard a good classical accordionist?!), or classical or sacred vocal pieces.

    I really appreciate all of your help!


    barbara-brundage on #162613

    Becky and Ernie Brock have a number of wonderful classical collections for flute and lever harp.

    barbara-brundage on #162614

    Also, Rhett Barnwell has some truly beautiful voice and harp transcriptions of sacred music, a couple with obbligato cello parts.

    (BTW, given your specific requirements, you should know that ‘Basically Bach’ mentioned earlier in this thread consists primarily of only the A sections of most of the pieces in it, so you might want to take a look at that one before purchasing, if you can. A few of them are the whole thing, but many are not.)

    I especially like Rhett’s arrangement of the Requiem Aeternum from the Faure Requiem (available only as a single piece of sheet music). It’s also possible to play that one as a solo from his arrangement if you look at it a bit. His Serenade for the Soul collection is also excellent–mostly solo, but vocal parts to a few of the pieces it contains.

    Another person who has some nice classical transcriptions for solo harp who hasn’t been mentioned in this thread is Anne Marie O’Farrell, the goddess of lever flipping. Her published arrangements are not that difficult. They’re available for download from her site. (A few, like her Recuerdos de Alhambra are for pedal harp although not marked as such in the list.)

    unknown-user on #162615

    Thanks, Barbara!


    patricia-jaeger on #162616

    Hannah, You may be interested in Herald Music arrangements, carried by the major harp music dealers. Harp accompanies a string quartet (or voices,

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