Planets for one harp

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    rod-anderson on #150936

    Can anyone help me?

    jennifer-buehler on #150937


    barbara-fackler on #150938

    I saw a small college performance of this. They left the harp out completely in that movement. That way, the color doesn’t change when the 2nd part is left out. I’ve also seen a synth used for the “missing harp” part. It’s really hard to balance the dynamics that way.

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #150939

    Isn’t it crazy that an orchestra would attempt this piece without 2 harps? I started to write out a part for Mercury with the two parts combined, just to see if it could be done. I think it is doable, with some editing, but it always floors me to see orchestras trying to do without such an integral piece of the puzzle.

    HBrock25 on #150940


    Were you able to re-write the harp parts? I am facing the same problem for an upcoming performance of this piece.

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #150941

    I only did the first page of Mercury before I ran out of time. I have never tried to play this piece with one harp. There would be so much missing! Even if they have to hire a keyboard player with the “harp” setting on, that would be better than leaving out so many lines. Maybe you could suggest that to them.

    rod-anderson on #150942

    I posted the original enquiry and in the end did as Elizabeth suggests: they had a keyboard player for the celesta (using an electronic keyboard) and he played the other harp part in Mercury.

    sherry-lenox on #150943

    Holst is rolling in his grave.

    My musical upbringing was shaped by a band director who bent over backwards to instill in his students a sense of musical integrity. I am grateful to this day for his painstaking attempts to get us wiggling adolescents to understand that a composer wrote something to be played with persistent respect to what he/she meant.

    Is it that so many orchestral standards are out of copyright that they are so unhesitatingly programmed with whatever combinations of musicians can be arranged? “Two harps” doesn’t mean one harp and “something else that can play the same notes”, least of all something electronic or amplified.

    I have never, ever seen acknowledgement in a program that addresses the fact that the instruments the composer meant are not being used in performance of a piece.

    I am imagining the New World Symphony with an alto sax playing the English Horn part, or or a bassoon playing the flute part in “Meditation from Thais”. Hey why not, they[re all woodwinds, right? Who cares if there’s a couple octaves dropped among friends.

    Makes my head ache.

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #150944

    Sherry, I totally agree with you. However, if the orchestra is determined to play the piece in spite of not having the right complement of musicians, at least the harpist doesn’t have to suffer a nervous breakdown trying to play two parts.

    brian-noel on #150945

    I don’t understand how a keyboard player could effectively cover the second harp as well as the celesta part, as the 2 harps and the celesta have parts that intertwine all throughout “Venus”, “Mercury”, and “Neptune”.

    rod-anderson on #150946

    Go easy, guys – I’m sure we all agree that what was written for two harps should be played on two harps, but it is only right to consider each case on its merits.

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