Famous harp masterpiece was created to show off a new instrument

Harp strings
Harp strings

François-Adrien Boieldieu's output of instrumental music was initially meager and virtually ceased once he became one of the top opera composers in Paris.

Be it as it may, his instrumental Harp Concerto in C, also known as Concerto in Three Tempi, proved to be an intricate work that retains a central place in the harp repertory to this day.

The Concerto opens with a festive and fast theme which is followed by a restless melody, all in the late Classical style, seemingly evoking the works of Mozart and Beethoven.

Apparently the creation of this masterpiece was facilitated by the close acquaintance of Boieldieu's, Sébastien Érard, who was a French instrument maker of German origin. Érard specialized in the production of pianos and harps, developing the capacities of both instruments and pioneering the modern piano.

His innovative seven-pedal harp allowed each string to be shortened by one or two semitones, creating a whole tone, and this new mechanism demanded a more versatile type of music. Still used by modern pedal-harp makers, this harp allows the player to perform in any key or chromatic setting. 

Marisa Robles plays the third movement of Harp Concerto in C:

Share this story
you may also like
  • The History of Popular Music

    Discover stories from each decade. Listen to gems from the 1960s, 1970s, and more.
  • Early Music

    Read all about the formative music of the past centuries. Enjoy the regal yet easy sounds of the Baroque and Renaissance.
  • Indian Classical Music

    Dive into the South Asian philosophy through Indian classical music. Learn about musical traditions of the Hindustani and Carnatic culture.
  • The Epoch of Romanticism

    Get a taste of the most beloved and fruitful music period. See the personalities behind the major shift of the eras — from Classical to Romantic.