i was wondering if anyone knew if there was a transcription of Toccata and Fugue for harp out there. If so where can I find it?
Why on earth would anyone want to play this piece on the harp??? I heard a very fine russian harpist do it in New York a few years ago and thought then that it didn’t work at all for the harp. The harp is not a sustaining instrument. The organ is, and Bach makes heavy use of that fact in this piece, particularly at the beginning.
Yes I agree. I was just interested in see how it was transcribed. I believe that there are some pieces that should not be transcribed for harp, and there are some that can work. I think the Toccata could work if you have the right sound and if you play it in a hall or church that has acoustics of a bath tube.
I’m also an organist by trade, and to me some Bach works on harp and some just doesn’t. I don’t think the d minor really works well, but then I prefer my husband’s version which is sort of fashioned after the Stokowsky orchestral version, which is pretty huge and magnificent. That’s the way I like it, and the harp just isn’t going to cut that sort of version.
One has to know the harp extremely well to really judge pieces for their suitability. It takes years to fully understand not only the sound of the harp and what it can do well, but to understand other instruments and what is lost in transcription. There are many pieces where the notes are physically possible, but not esthetically. In student years, it is easy to be led down a rosy path of misdirection, and it is for that reason it is most important to study thoroughly the masterpieces and standard literature that suit the harp well. If I had not had strong guidance in this, I would have terrible taste in transcriptions! Sometimes a piece may be perfectly suited to the harp, such as Chopin’s Minute Waltz, but what audience wants to hear it on the harp when they are used to fantastic pianists playing it? Plus, the piano is so much smoother. It is also far more work to play such pieces on the harp than on the piano, so we should choose wisely, as our time is more limited than we think.
There are pieces that are very instructive, to compare the transcription to the original. Compare the Salzedo transcription of the Pescetti Sonata to the original and you will be surprised. A thorough study of his transcriptions is essential to developing a wise approach to transcription.
Another example of superb work is Dewey Owens’s first edition of the Bach Chaconne.
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