I was a question on Jeopardy. Well, not exactly. Here’s the story.
The answer was, “Composer Lowell Liebermann wrote a Sonata for flute and this instrument, often heard at weddings.” The correct question: “What is a harp?”
So how do I figure in? My friend flutist Joan Sparks and I are the duo SPARX, and we commissioned the Sonata from Lowell Liebermann. Our names are on the top of the music. And we are very proud to have been part of this contribution to the flute and harp literature.
We were admirers of Lowell’s work, and decided to celebrate our 10th anniversary as a duo (in 1996) with this commission. We met with Lowell, and had a really fun meal together, and told him the kind of piece we had in mind. We wanted a work of substantial length, a powerful work that would reflect the strengths of the two instruments, rather than their delicate sides. The result: Sonata for Flute and Harp, Op. 56.
What Lowell wrote was an astoundingly dramatic single-movement Sonata, about 15 minutes long. The outer sections of the work are slow and haunting, almost eerie, in contrast with other more lyrical sections and a central Allegro that sends fingers and feet flying!
Needless to say, the work remains one of our favorite pieces to play. We will be performing it again this Sunday, April 28 in Wilmington, Delaware. Details are on the Performing Page. If you will be in the area, I invite you to come and make it a favorite of yours as well.
If you can’t make the performance but are interested in hearing the Sonata, you can download a recording of a live performance on iTunes.
And if you are a harpist who knows a flutist, or a flutist who knows a harpist, I urge you to make this piece a part of your repertoire. It’s a challenge for the players, but we have found that audiences share our excitement about this work. The music is published by Presser’s, and available from the usual music sources, or you can use my affiliate link to the Sonata on Sheet Music Plus.
Share your favorite flute and harp works by leaving a comment below.