Gliére, Erdely, and the Harp in Russia


Little is known about why Reinhold Gliére, a prominent Russian composer, chose to write two pieces for harp. Nevertheless, Gliére’s Harp Concerto in E-Flat Major and Impromptu effectively use the harp’s capabilities and have become standards in harp repertoire over the past century. The purpose of this study is to find out why Reinhold Gliére chose to write for the harp. This essay discusses the place of the harp in the 19th century, particularly in Russia. A brief biography of Gliére and his colleague, harpist Ksenia Erdely, is also provided, as well as a comparison of Gliére’s two harp compositions with other contemporary pieces. The main questions that this study seeks to answer are where Gliére and Erdely met, why they worked together, and to what extent they collaborated. Likely answers are drawn from the two composers’ educations and backgrounds as well as from an analysis of the compositional style and similarities of the two harp solos. Also included is a summary of important information that has not been obtained, in addition to ways that further research can continue providing insight into Gli´ere and his relationship with the harp.

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