Interview with the Harpist DAVIDE BURANI

Of all musical instruments, there is one for elegant and charming often remains relegated to second floor: the Harp. Ancient yet modern tool, vibrates in all its splendor in the performances of Davide Burani, harpist from Modena that I have interviewed for you.

Interview by FM

FM: City of Bologna has always been Music, from Mozart to modern international music Museum. Contemporary musical institutions “are according to the measure of a harpist,” according to You?

DB: there is now a revival of harp, with a renewed attention to this instrument, and this suggests that increasingly, can find space in the cultural programmes and initiatives promoted by institutions. There is an example on today’s concert, sponsored by the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna, a prestigious institution that wanted to give this tool a space of excellence.

FM: Tonight (3/19/2001) performs at the Bologna Philharmonic. By what criteria has been guided the choice of repertoire and what are the salient points?

DB: privileged was an original repertoire for harp of authors that have marked the history of this instrument, but who do not have the notoriety they deserve. Authors of the 19th century, the century that saw the birth of the harp concert as we know it today. Exception the opening song of the concert, the famous Passacaglia of Händel, also used in the range of the Rai around the years ‘ 60-‘ 70, a transcript from the original for harpsichord of Louis Italian harpist Maria Magistretti. The program has continued with two pieces of 19th-century composers by harpists-rediscover: the Sonata for harp by Sophia Corri, wife of pianist Jan Ladislav Dussek, and Studio da concerto, an intimate and heroic song at the same time, Felix Godefroid, Belgian harpist who lived between 1818 and 1897. In the second part it was deepened in melodrama. In the 19th century were many harpists who composed and performed Works by famous fantasies. As Elias Parish Alvars-defined by Berlioz ‘ Liszt ‘ harp, of which was the introduction, Cadence and Rondo, a song that has a clear call to opera, and John Caramiello, a teacher at the Conservatory of Naples from 1886 to 1915, who wrote about Entertainment topics and Fantasies of Verdi, Donizetti and Bellini, including fantasy on Bellini’s Casta Diva, operates 19 proposed in program. Also here the musical writing of Cho, turns to the virtuosity and bel canto. The concert continued with Contemplation of Henriette Renié, a pupil of Alphonse Hasselmans, admitted to the Conservatoire at the age of ten and twelve graduate; and two big studies by Wilhelm Posse, concert harpist German that served as First Harp at the Berlin Opera. He closed the program source of Alphone Hasselmans, Professor of harp at the Conservatoire de Paris, whose work paved the way for French composers who incorporated the harp in impressionistic landscape as refined, Fauré and Debussy.

FM : What do you think of the current training offer for harpists in Italy, Young and not Young?

DB: our region, as well as our Country, currently offers many opportunities, both professional and amateur, who intends to approach the harp. Within the Conservatives there are excellent schools, thanks to the inclusion of the new courses of study pre-academics. Myself I am a lecturer at a public institution (the Institute For Reggio Emilia) but also teach in private courses where you can learn the harp at amateur level.

FM: what is his relationship with fellow harpists?

DB: a report of great collaboration. My appreciation goes in particular to Emanuela Degli Esposti, my harp teacher, representing a reference point for Bologna where she performed on numerous occasions.

FM: one last question. What are its upcoming programmes and projects which are working?

DB: A Master-Class from 30 March to 3 April in Cosenza which will conclude with a concert that features the same program that was held today in Bologna. And a new recording project, the Concerto for flute, harp and orchestra by Mozart, which is due for release in June.

THE STORY OF THE HARP IN THE WORDS OF THE ARTIST: The harp is an instrument of ancient origin. They are the first samples from the civilizations of the Mediterranean basin and in the Assyrian and Babylonian peoples and Egyptian (…) Later, it became an important instrument of religious worship at the Jewish civilization, as narrated in Sacred Scripture. In ancient Greece have plucked stringed instruments such as the viol and lyra (…) After the fall of the Roman Empire, meets again at Nordic and Celtic populations; in particular, the Irish were masters in play, employing 30 or more instruments, strings, arched column prior to those of the medieval minstrels (…). Over the centuries, 16° and 17° the tool underwent several transformations: first it was possible to raise one semitone each string using a manual lever system. In the 18th century were constructed harps very similar to those of today, in which the semitones were obtained through the use of pedals places at the base of the instrument connected to the tailpiece using a device of internal levers and rods (…) The inventor of the modern harp was the Frenchman SEBASTIAN ERARD, manufacturer of musical instruments, which in 1811 he developed an arpa model equipped with 7 pedals, each one corresponding to one of the 7 notes. By activating these double pedal movement, the performer was able to raise or lower the pitch of each note, and it was finally possible to play in all shades and carry out alterations. Basic tuning the harp was in the key of c-flat major. This very practical system, is still in use today (…)

The modern harp is fitted with pedals and the 47 7: strings in nylon, gut sovracuto in the central zone and in the Netherlands. I do are colored red, makes blue. The music is read using a double Pentagram, as in the piano. The strings you strumming with your fingertips, fingernails must be cortissime; the two little fingers are not used (…)

(…)The solo production is of great value: composers such as Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, ‘ Boildieu ‘, Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, have dedicated compositions to this extraordinary instrument.


Notes : For those wishing to see an important selection of harps and deepen local historical aspects of this magnificent instrument, we refer to the Museo Internazionale della Musica di Bologna, which houses a fine collection.


About Odile Milton

I travel through words whenever possible. Odile Milton is my signature on the web as I wanted an alter ego to indicate only my writings and works, not my personal life. Odile like the dancer in black swan, and Milton from the novel An old-fashioned girl. View all posts by Odile Milton

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