Though there are numerous types of harps, it’s the classical harp which is used in an orchestra. Played by plucking the strings, it is a real challenge for the fingers of anyone who decides to play it. With 47 different strings of varying lengths, it takes a very long time to tune. So long, in fact, that most harpists arrive before the rest of the orchestra just to be able to tune their instrument.
Did you know?
Harpists also play with their feet, adjusting the height of the 7 pedals which change the pitch of the strings of their instrument.
In the Symphonie fantastique by Berlioz, two harpists play a solo together, alternating playing rising arpeggios around the melody played by the rest of the orchestra. It would seem that there are two harpists in the next excerpt, taken from the Concerto en sol by Ravel, but it is in fact only one! And at the very end of the excerpt we get to hear a triangle roll.
Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14: II. Un bal
Piano Concerto in G major: I. Allegramente
Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky
The Nutcracker: Flower Waltz
Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is the favourite symphonic work of Éric Champagne, composer and collaborator with the Orchestre Métropolitain. Discover what he loves so much about this piece!