Harp concerto

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The concerto was written in 1953 on commission from harpist Nicanor Zabaleta.

  1. Allegro
  2. Andante moderato
  3. Scherzo (Allegretto quasi allegro)
  4. Allegro 

Villa-Lobos was able to get by as an instrumentalist on nearly every instrument:  "I played the harp from my experience with the guitar." - "Villa-Lobos and the Man-Eating Flower: A Memoir," Ralph Gustafson, The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 75, No. 1 (Spring, 1991), pp. 2

This work hasn't received much attention over the years.  Soon after its premiere Henry Cowell reviewed the Harp Concerto and the Second Cello Concerto in The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Apr., 1955), pp. 223-243, but his article focusses almost completely on the latter.  Perhaps Villa's concerto has been overshadowed by Ginastera's very strong Harp Concerto, which helped to make the Argentine composer's reputation.

Here is harpist Cristina Carvalho with the Orquestra Sinfônica Nacional do Panamá under Emilio de Cesar, from a concert in Panama City from November 30, 2009.  The other movements (with cadenza) are also up on YouTube.


Harp & orchestrapic, 2fl, 2ob, c ing, 2cl(Bb), cl baixo, 2fg, cfg, 4cor, 3trp, 2trb, tuba, tímp, prato, xil, mar, cel e cordas


Published by Max Eschig, Paris.  The autograph scores (89 pp. and 67 pp.) are in the Museu Villa-Lobos.This is one of the first scores to be published in the Villa-Lobos Digital project of the Academia Brasileira da Música.  


Zabaleta premiered the work with the Philadelphia Orchestra on January 14, 1955. Villa-Lobos conducted.This work isn't very popular (three concerts in the Villa-Lobos Concerts database as of December 2010), but it's starting to show up in concert programs.