Harp repertoire for conservatory auditions

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    Abby Kent on #145888

    I am a junior in high school, and I am starting to look at the requirements for harp auditions at conservatories. Almost all the big ones ask for a Classical, Romantic, and 20th/21st century piece from the solo harp repertoire. Since the harp is a relatively new instrument, I can’t easily find a solo Classical or Romantic piece. I have learned Giovanni Pescetti’s Sonata in c minor (all 3 mvts.), transcribed by Salzedo, and I thought I might use this as my Classical piece. However, since Pescetti’s dates are on the borderline of Baroque and Classical (1704-1766), it is not clear that he is a bona fide Classical composer. Also, this piece is transcribed for harp by Salzedo, and I don’t think conservatories want transcriptions. In short, does anyone know of a good Classical audition piece that was written specifically for solo harp?

    In addition, it has been difficult finding a Romantic piece, since most of the most famous solo repertoire for harp was written only within the last century or so. I have found a few pieces that also are very early Romantic composers, who are almost Classical, but not quite, so it is not as easy as picking out a Chopin piece for piano. So, does anyone know a great Romantic piece for an audition?

    Also, any ideas about 20th/21st century compositions would be great. I have considered tackling the Hindemith sonata, but I haven’t decided yet.

    unknown-user on #145889

    Hi Abby,
    In my opinion, the Pescetti would be fine. My only concern would be that the piece would probably be on the easier side of the repertoire – if you think you can prepare a more substantial work from the period by the audition date, I would do it. However, Pescetti is probably fine; I would imagine that the jurors at any school are thinking “Baroque or Classical” when they say “Classical.” I played the CPE Bach Sonata, which is also right on the border, and that was fine. You’re right, though, that the harp has a gap in its repertoire during the Classical period.

    As for a Romantic piece, I immediately think of Parish-Alvars. However, I think that if you used caution in picking a technically impressionist piece (Hasselmans, Renie, Tournier, Grandjany maybe, etc.) that would suffice.

    The Hindemith is a good choice for a modern piece. You might also consider the Britten Suite (what I played).

    Basically, the idea is to have three contrasting pieces, so if the styles contrast, then I wouldn’t worry about the years so much.

    If you’re having doubts, why don’t you send the harp teacher an email and introduce yourself ahead of time?


    eliza-morrison on #145890

    In my opinion, no one would frown on the Pescetti. Salzedo transcriptions are generally accepted fare anywhere, I would think.

    marguerite-lynn-williams on #145891

    Hi Abby,

    You should definitely consult with your private teacher because ultimately they are the only one who knows your level of performance and what repertoire would be appropriate for you to be working on.

    It is of the utmost importance for you to present a highly polished performance at auditions rather than trying to play the hardest music ever written.

    A lot of harp majors will travel to meet a teacher and take a lesson during their Junior year so as to get a feel for the teacher. This is the perfect opportunity for you to talk with them about audition repertoire as well.

    Good luck with your preparation and auditions!


    niina on #145892

    That’s what I call thinking ahead!! I have my auditions this Dec and have only this week (July 5th) decided which pieces I am going to play: Naderman’s Sonatina No. 6, Hasselmans’ La Source and Godefroid’s Etude de Concert.
    I had better get cracking.

    carl-swanson on #145893

    Nina- Those are all good pieces. But the Hasselmans and the Godefroid are the same period, French, and were probably written within a few years of each other. You might want to change one of them and instead play something that is stylistically different. Maybe a Baroque transcription, or something 20th century. A Tournier piece might be a good substitute.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #145894

    Hovhaness is a different choice for 20th century music that would not take forever to learn, but has musical challenges. The Maros Suite is another possibility, Three Improvisations or other works by William Mathias.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #145895

    Classical period options include the Parry Sonatas, the Spohr Fantaisie, and could include Krumpholtz and Naderman. Some of the periods last longer in the harp repertoire; much of the early 20th century music is quite still in the Romantic style.

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