Unplayable Harp Parts

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    Miss Lawrence used to say: speculate upon the harmony. Meaning, read the chords and play the notes that are possible, and forget the rest. We had a performance of the Schoenberg when I was in school, and fortunately for me, I didn’t have to play it, but I believe I may still have her edited parts.


    Re: Pines of Rome impossible section: Tayce, the part I was referring to is in I pini del Gianicolo, the second and fifth bars after rehearsal #16. I was taught to just finger those notes instead of doing the harmonics, since it goes so fast. I think the harmonics you are remembering might be those at the end of that movement. I do them in flats, but I wonder if your conductor wanted the more muted sound that is produced by the sharps.



    what about “Heldenleben” of Strauss?


    So is the Pines of Rome really hard? I was just asked to play it and am looking into it. Would it be considered a professional harpist level? The day of the performance is the same week of my SAT test and a wedding gig that I have. Is it worth it?


    I just posted on (and on and on) Pines in the Coffee Break thread.

    David Ice

    There is one section of Ein Heldenleben (2nd harp) that I spent one whole day trying it in every conceivable key until I figured it out in (if memory serves) 7 sharps.


    That section of Tannhauser that came up in the Professional harpists forum…if anyone can play it as written, my hat is off to them.


    Pines of Rome is tricky. I tried editing the part, and sent it to Bea Rose, who laughed at it, then sent me her copy. I had missed a lot of little corrections that were quite important. Thank goodness for people like her.


    Sometimes a part was written reasonably, but becomes unplayable when the conductor chooses an inappropriate tempo. That’s why it is good to have Plan B up your sleeve.

    David Ice

    LOL Elizabeth!


    I once had a harp part which opened with say, 4 or more flats in the first bar then many sharps in the second bar or vice versa and I knew that the composer had simply composed different harmonies but then I thought why even think a harp can play any combination at any moment…! It was easy enough to change the first bar and get into the 2nd bar and the composer was about so I let him know it wasn’t very practical.

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