12 Great Arpeggio Pieces – That Aren’t “The Little Fountain”
Aug 12, 2019
“The Little Fountain... again?”
Perhaps that question has gone through your mind at a student recital as yet another proud harpist steps up to show off his or her arpeggios with this perennial favorite. And it is a favorite, but it’s not the only arpeggio-rich piece in our harp repertoire.
So in case you feel like a change in your arpeggio music, I offer 12 possibilities that may intrigue you.
Obviously, much of the harp literature uses arpeggios, but I had more specific criteria for my choices. I wanted to find pieces where the arpeggios were an integral part of the fabric and texture of the piece, not just a flourish.
I looked for music that was at an intermediate level and which was fairly short, nothing that was in the realm of “concert” repertoire. Of course, any of these pieces would be great for recitals or background music, but they aren’t exclusively for virtuoso players. Plus, most of them (all but two) are playable on lever harp.
Naturally, this is far from an exhaustive list. Please feel free to add your own contributions in the comments at the end of the post.
Now without further introduction, here is my list, in no particular order:
- Ribbon, by Stephanie Curcio. Jan Jennings introduced this piece to me, and I immediately knew why she likes it. While it gives the same kind of arpeggio workout as “The Little Fountain,” musically it is quite different. Both pieces would be welcome on the same student recital, without sounding repetitive.
- Processional by Linda Wood. (from “Harp Solos, Graded Recital Pieces, vol. 2”) This piece is a little longer than some on the list, but the arpeggio variation of the Processional theme is a great arpeggio study.
- Windmill Sketches, by Gail Barber. There are a couple of pieces in this lovely collection which showcase arpeggios. The titles of the pieces are evocative of the American west.
- Rippling Water, by Nancy Gustafson. (from “Pacific Sketches”) A water-themed piece, but definitely not the same old, same old. The rest of the collection is also worth a look.
- Reverie, by Henriette Renié. (from “Six Pièces Brèves, Suite 1”) This music has the grace and charm typical of Renié in a student-friendly piece.
- Nataliana by Deborah Henson-Conant. Yes, it’s flashy; sure, it’s fun. It has drama and passion. But it’s great for your arpeggios too!
- The Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns. I almost left this off the list since it isn’t original to the harp, but there are so many different versions and arrangements, you will surely be able to find one that suits your style. And talk about a crowd pleaser!
- The Butterfly Trees, by Alfredo Rolando Ortiz. This is one of my favorite Ortiz pieces. The haunting image of the trees covered in butterflies and the serene beauty of the music make all the arpeggio practice you’ve done worthwhile.
- Reverie by Carlos Salzedo. (from “The Art of Modulating”) Salzedo’s book, “The Art of Modulating” concludes with a surprising collection of short pieces and one page versions of each of the dances from his “Suite of Eight Dances.” As far as I know, it’s the only place you can find two of my favorite Salzedo short pieces – “Carillon” and “Petite Valse.” But “Reverie” is the arpeggio piece, and it’s a little gem.
- Au Seuil du Temple, by Marcel Tournier. (from “Images, Suite 1”) This is a very approachable short piece filled with atmospheric arpeggios. It’s musically rich, but not difficult. And although it’s written in A-flat Major, it could easily be played in A Major on a lever harp.
- Solo for Harp, by Léo Delibes. (from “Two Solos for Harp,” edited by Marilyn Costello) A fairly simple two-page beauty from a composer known for his beautiful opera and ballet scores. While it might be manageable on lever harp, it’s really a pedal harp piece.
- Rouet, by Alphonse Hasselmans. (from “Trois Petites Pièces Faciles”) This spinning wheel piece is typically French, arpeggio-filled, and totally lovely. It’s not difficult, but it is for pedal harp only.
Which of your arpeggio favorites did I miss? Leave them in the comments!