Nutcracker parts for 2 harps

  • Keymaster
    HBrock25 on #146917

    I’m conducting the full Nutcracker ballet this year and see that the original score calls for 2 harps. I’ve played the score in the orchestra many times (I’m not a harpist) but have never seen more that one harp player sitting across the way. How do harpists handle this – can one of the parts be left out – or do I need to combine the 2 parts into one?

    Participant
    barbara-kraichy–2 on #146918

    There are two harp parts, but only one harp is needed.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #146919

    Harpists either play the principal part only, or do a little combining where necessary, and only if they have to. We do not want to put second harpists out of work! New York City Ballet always uses two harpists. You should, as well. A harp adds more color than another violin. The two harps are necessary to have the full harmony and patterns Tchaikovsky wrote.

    Spectator
    alice-freeman on #146920

    Our conductor always claimed there was only room for 1 harp in the pit, and never welcomed a second harpist.

    — Alice in windy Wyoming

    Keymaster
    HBrock25 on #146921

    The only time I’ve ever really found myself missing the 2nd harp part is near the end of the ballet, in the beginning of the Pax de Deux, where Harp I has the arpeggios, and Harp II is playing the big block 1/4-note chords. Last time I conducted it, I gave the Harp II opening chords to my pizz strings. Another option is to give those chords to the Celeste player who isn’t doing anything (and have him/her play the chords G, Em, etc. on piano or a keyboard set as close as possible to a harp. Beyond the Pax de Deux, I personally find the rest of the Harp II part expendable.

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #146922

    We need the work.

    Participant
    emma-graham on #146923

    Oooh there’s a cheeky reply begging to be posted involving the words “expendable” and “conductors”!!
    I’m just not brave enough to do it 😉

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #146924

    Oh, go on, do it!

    Participant
    paulina-porazinska on #146925

    I agree with all the harpists that only the conductor can say that only one harp is needed. Not only we need a job but also we need the real music of Tschaikowsky and this 2 harp parts are so different that is makes difference. However I know that often it is hard to angage 2 harpists all the time so I was also performing as a one harpist. I did combined part which was really difficult and in the end of the ballet

    Participant
    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #146926

    It is better to use the second harp to double the first harp when not playing very much than to forego it. It is not really up to the conductor, but the composer and the audience. Of course, the conductor and manager mind the budget, but a second harp adds more dimension to an orchestra than one more violin. But who listens to us?

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