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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Monday, April 6

Salzedo and the Harp

Synopsis

Carlos Salzedo, the most influential harpist of the 20th century, was born in Arcachon, France, on today’s date in 1885. Salzedo transformed the harp into a virtuoso instrument, developing new techniques showcased in his own compositions and that others like Stravinsky, Schoenberg, and Britten adopted in theirs.

In 1921, Salzedo and Edgard Varese co-founded the International Composers Guild, promoting works by progressive composers like Bartok and Honegger. Salzedo’s own compositions for harp include both transcriptions as well as original works like “Scintillation,” probably his most famous piece, and “Four Preludes to the Afternoon of a Telephone,” based on the phone numbers of four of his students.

He taught at the Curtis Institute, the Juilliard School, and offered summer courses in Camden, Maine. Hundreds of Salzedo pupils filled harp positions with major orchestras around the world. Salzedo himself entered the Paris Conservatory at age nine and won the premiere prize in harp and piano when he was just 16. He came to America in 1909 at the invitation of Arturo Toscanini, who wanted him as harpist at the Metropolitan Opera, and—curious to note—Salzedo died in the summer of 1961, at the age of 76, while adjudicating Metropolitan Opera regional auditions in Maine.

Music Played in Today's Program

Carlos Salzedo (1885 – 1961) Scintillation Carlos Sazledo, harp Mercury LP MG-80003

Additional Information

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