Program Notes

La Source, Opus 44 Alphonse Hasselmans (1845-1912) Alphonse Hasselmans was born in Liege in Belgium and studied at the Strasbourg Conservatoire where his father was director. Hasselmans became Professor of harp at the Paris Conservatoire in 1884 and held the post until his death in 1912. His pupils included many of the eminent players of the twentieth century, notably Henriette Renie, Carlos Salzedo, Marcel Tournier and Lily Laskine. He composed solely for harp and wrote a great many miniature pieces with descriptive titles. La Source, which is written in the distinctly Romantic idiom of nineteenth-century salon music, with clear melodic outlines, is a concert study. Clair de lune La fille aux cheveux de lin Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Debussy did not write any solo pieces for harp, although he used the instrument admirably in an orchestral and chamber-music context. His Danse sacree et danse profane for harp and string orchestra and the Sonate for flute, viola and harp are both major works in the harp repertoire. Clair de lune and La fille aux cheveux de lin are transcribed from piano music. Clair de lune is taken from the Suite bergamasque, written between 1890 and 1905, whilst La fille aux cheveux de lin is the eighth of his first book of Preludes (1910). Sonata for Harp Peggy Glanville-Hicks (1912-1990) Peggy Glanville-Hicks was born in Melbourne where she studied composition under Fritz Hart. In 1931, she went to the Royal College of Music, London, where her teachers included Ralph Vaughan-Williams (composition), Arthur Benjamin (piano), Constant Lambert and Sir Malcolm Sargeant (conducting). In 1936, she undertook further compositional studies with Egon Wellesz in Vienna and Nadia Boulanger in Paris. From 1942-1959, Peggy Glanville-Hicks lived in the United States and became an American citizen. Between 1949 and 1958, she worked as a critic on the New York "Herald-Tribune" where her reviews and journal articles earned her a reputation as a highly perceptive writer on contemporary music. During the fifties, she was also active as an organizer and promoter of contemporary and avant-garde music concerts. In this connection, she was instrumental in introducing the Spanish harpist, Nicanor Zabaleta, to American audiences. After a long international career, she returned to Australia, settling in Sydney. Sonata for Harp was written in 1952 for Nicanor Zabaleta, who gave the work its first performance in New York in 1953. As homage to Zabaleta in particular, the sonata contains some allusions to Spanish music. The first movement is entitled Saeta, which is a type of Andalusian folk-song, used often for religious street processions held during Lent and at Christmas time. The movement is in sonata form, although the tonal structure is treated freely. The second movement, a Pastorale is written in two-part invertible counterpoint. The Rondo, again rather free in structure, includes melodic material which the composer also used in an orchestral work written about the same period of time, entitled Letters from Morocco, which adds something further to the exotic Moorish flavour of the sonata. Malaguena Issac Albeniz (1860-1909) Issac Albeniz appeared as a child prodigy pianist at four years of age and composed lavishly for his own instrument. Although he did not write for harp specifically, he is known to have encouraged harpists of his acquaintance to make use of his piano pieces for solo material. Issac Albeniz was one of the first Spanish composers to use his native rhythms and melodic phraseology in developed composition. Often, the dramatic and instrumental effects in his music lend themselves well to harp transcription. A "malaguena" is a song of a very emotional nature, written in a free style and rhythm, beginning and ending on the dominant. Sonata in D Mateo Albeniz (c.1755-1831) From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, the harp occupied a position of eminence in the musical life of Spain. Harps were given equal rank with keyboard instruments and lutes. Composers frequently left unspecified the choice of instrument for performance of their works. Harps were used abundantly and harpists were employed both as church musicians and in the secular field. Mateo Albeniz was born around 1755 in the Basque region of Spain and died in 1831. He was both a composer and a theorist. The Sonata in D is a single movement work in a lively 6/8 folk-dance rhythm. Written originally for keyboard, it is played frequently today on both harp and guitar. Spanish Dance no.5 - Andaluza Enrique Granados (1867-1916) Spanish Dance No.5 - Andaluza is taken from the composer's early work for piano, the ten Danzas Espanolas (1892-1900). These dances are possibly the most popular and most frequently performed of his works today. The sub-titles refer to the evocative folk-lore of the many colourful and contrasting regions of Spain. Variations, Opus 36 Louis Spohr (1784-1859) Louis Spohr, the German virtuoso violinist, composer and conductor, was married to a harpist of considerable ability, Dorette Scheidler (1787-1834). Spohr wrote several works for solo harp and a number of duos for harp and violin for their joint appearances on the long, arduous concert tours they undertook throughout European countries including England. The Variations, Opus 36, written in 1807, are based on a popular aria, Je suis encore dans mon printemps, taken from an opera by the Parisian composer, Etienne Nicolas Mehul (1763-1817). The theme is followed by five variations with an interpolated cadenza preceding the final Rondo. Etude no.14 in E minor Etude no.32 in G minor Francois Joseph Dizi (1780-1840) Dizi, although born in Belgium, was French in culture. He moved to London at the age of sixteen, where, after a series of mishaps, he was finally befriended by Erard, the harp manufacturer, who lent him a harp and helped him obtain a theatre post and some pupils. At one time, Dizi led a band of twelve harps at Covent Garden, under the direction of Sir Henry Bishop, famed as the composer of Home, Sweet Home. Dizi eventually went to Paris where he ran a harp factory with Pleyel. He was quite a clever inventor and endeavoured to improve the mechanism, tone and volume of the early nineteenth-century harp. His compositions include forty-eight Etudes and he also wrote a book on harp technique. Dizi died in 1840 at Namur, his birthplace in Belgium. Gymnopedie No.1 Erik Satie. (1866-1925) The three Gymnopedies are early piano pieces by the French composer, Erik Satie, dating from about 1888. Throughout his life, Satie's music exerted considerable influence over his contemporary fellow musicians, most notably, in his youth, over Debussy, although it seems that Debussy was reluctant to acknowledge any debt. Debussy, in fact, orchestrated the first two of the Gymnopedies. The pieces are deliberately restrained in scope, lacking in any form of ostentation and yet are highly evocative. The mood is elusive and the bizarre titles only add to conjecture. It has been suggested that the music was inspired by Flaubert's novel, Salammbo, which Satie admired greatly. Passacaglia George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) The Passacaglia is taken from Handel's Suite for Harpsichord, no.7, in G minor. The transcription for harp moves the music into the key of B flat minor. The theme consists of a series of chords, used as the basis of the composition. It is followed by fifteen variations. Nocturne (anon) This is the bland title given to a work for solo guitar by an anonymous author of the nineteenth century. The piece is very similar in style to guitar studies by the Spanish guitar virtuoso, Fernando Sor. The theme has been used as background music for the French award-winning film Jeux interdits. The theme is varied by being presented in the minor and then in the major mode. The guitar part has been adapted to a style more in accordance with harp technique. Pine Apple Rag Scott Joplin (1868-1917) Scott Joplin, the American negro composer and pianist, was acclaimed "King of Ragtime", in the late nineteenth century. Ragtime, as a musical style, swept the world for about twenty years at the turn of the century. A resurgence of interest in ragtime in the 1970's has led to a wider diffusion of Scott Joplin's music. His first major triumph was probably Maple Leaf Rag, published in 1899, while Pine Apple Rag was published a little later, in 1908.

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