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Repertoire Suggestions

Finding harp music can be a challenge. Your average, run-of-the-mill music store doesn't carry any harp music, so unless you're lucky enough to live a stone's throw away from one of the few harp centers that are scattered around the United States and a few other countries, you're left to buy music online, frequently sight-unseen. 

One solution embraced by many harpists I know, myself included, is to have the dubious honor of presiding over unsightly and ever growing stacks of  music. In fact, despite how tidy the rest of my home is, I was so far gone as to make a conscious effort to become one of these music junkies. Around the time I was finishing up my master's degree, I realized that my personal collection of harp music was lacking in some areas, so I adopted a simple system. Every time I needed to buy a new string or a specific piece for myself, I started ordering an extra piece of music or two. To say that I have compensated by now would be an understatement. My collection just keeps growing, seemingly without any effort on my part, and I'm consumed instead by trying to keep it all organized. At the moment, everything is divided up by instrumentation, then difficulty level, and then alphabetized by the composer's last name. Well, more or less, that's the system. Except that I'm out of drawer space, so some of my more recently acquired music is just in a stack, and then there's current music I'm working on, or about to be working on, which doesn't really make sense to put away, and... you get the idea.

Regardless (or perhaps because?) of how much music is crammed in my studio, I love repertoire questions. I love discovering new repertoire, I love putting together interesting programs, and I love it when I pick a piece that is a perfect fit for a student. Although I could provide a comprehensive list of all of the music that I've amassed, I thought it would be more helpful to highlight some stand out pieces. I certainly don't play or assign all of my collection equally, but instead have pieces that I come back to again and again. Below you'll find some suggestions for a few pieces of music from each category. These are pieces that I think are written well from a compositional standpoint, suit the harp well, and help develop a student's technique.

I've organized these by the same system that I (aspire to) use with my physical music, difficulty level, and then composer's last name.  Pieces that are underlined are linked to a corresponding video, most from my Inspirational Videos for Young Harpists YouTube series. If you find these videos helpful, feel free to subscribe to my YouTube Channel by clicking here.

Beginning Music

All of these pieces are suitable for lever harp, but could be easily played on the pedal harp as well. Each one has a clear focus and is enjoyable to listen to as well as play.

Bernard Andrès

Bernard Andrès

Bernard Andrès

Ruth K. Inglefield

Ruth K. Inglefield

Samuel Milligan

Betty Paret

Betty Paret

Beginning/Intermediate Music

These pieces are definitely at a harder level than the beginning level pieces above, but aren't yet difficult enough to qualify as intermediate. (Different harp publishers and harp stores categorize their music differently. Some just use a three tier system - beginning, intermediate, advanced - while some have more gradations.) All of these pieces are playable on lever harp, but again could easily be played on the pedal harp as well. The Lyra edition of the Grandjany Barcarolle includes an optional pedal harp introduction. 

Bernard Andrès

Bernard Andrès

Bernard Andrès

Bernard Andrès

Bernard Andrès

Alphonse Hasselmans

Ruth K. Inglefield

Ruth K. Inglefield
Marcel Grandjany

Susann McDonald

Susann McDonald

Samuel Milligan

Betty Paret

Henriette Renié

Intermediate Lever Harp Music

The intermediate level is a great level, as there are lots of options for music. Frequently this is when students make a switch from a lever harp to a pedal harp (if they choose to make this switch at all). Some harpists also might choose to focus on a particular style of music, maybe expanding their Celtic repertoire, or trying old jazz tunes, or learning some standard wedding pieces. As noted, all of the below pieces are written specifically for the lever harp, but could be played on the pedal harp as well. 

Bernard Andrès

Bernard Andrès
J. S. Bach, arr. Samuel Milligan

J. S. Bach, arr. Jacqueline Pollauf

Robert Nicholas Charles Bochsa

Marcel Grandjany 

Marcel Grandjany

George Handel, arr. Samuel Milligan

Intermediate Pedal Harp Music

This music is highly specific to the pedal harp and cannot be played on the lever harp. Many of the pieces in the earlier categories are written specifically as teaching pieces, but here many of the pieces are simply beautiful pieces of music that happen to continue to help students grow technically.

C. P. E. Bach

J. S. Bach, arr. Jacqueline Pollauf

Gottfried Kirchhoff, trans. Marcel Grandjany

Marcel Grandjany

Marcel Grandjany

Alphonse Hasselmans

Susann McDonald

Henriette Renié

Henriette Renié

Henriette Renié

Carlos Salzedo

Carlos Salzedo

Carlos Salzedo
John Thomas

Marcel Tournier

Linda Wood

Linda Wood

Intermediate/Advanced Pedal Harp Music

There are many beautiful pieces in this category, and the ones I've listed below are just a small sampling. Many represent different times periods, and transcriptions, as opposed to original works, become a larger part of the repertoire at this point.

Interlude (from A Ceremony of Carols)

First Arabesque

Sonata in c minor

The Harmonious Blacksmith

Au Monastère

Chanson de Mai

Invention dans le Style Ancien (from Six Pièces Brèves)

Siciliana 

Rumba (from Suite of Eight Dances)

Ètude de Concert (Au Matin)

Fire Dance (from Petite Suite)

Benjamin Britten

Claude Debussy, trans. Henriette Renié

Sophia Giustani Dussek

George Frederic Handel, trans. Carlos Salzedo

Alphonse Hasselmans

Alphonse Hasselmans

Henriette Renié

Ottorino Respighi, trans. Marcel Grandjany

Carlos Salzedo

Marcel Tournier

David Watkins