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Romantic Harp

In early nineteenth-century France, the harp was a very modern instrument, replacing the “baroque” harpsichord and competing with the pianoforte in a quest for “classical” expression.

Three areas of activity soon gave rise to a huge repertoire dedicated to the instrument. The development of salons explains the rapid dissemination of collections of pieces and romances of varying degrees of difficulty intended for enlightened amateurs. The concert hall was the venue where international virtuosos showcased the highest technical skill imaginable at the time in concertante works with orchestra. Finally, the harp began to stand out in the theatres: at the Opéra, it was used in divertissements to accompany ballets; at the Opéra-Comique, it appeared directly on stage as a decorative element, or was placed in the hands of a heroine who pretended to accompany herself. Between its different roles, the harp crystallised the appeal of a musical style that was still searching for its own identity and would soon find it: early romanticism was not far off.


Harpe romantique – concert by Emmanuel Ceysson, Frédéric Chatoux, Marc Desmons

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