Duo Praxedis – grand duet – Originalwerke für Harfe & Klavier
During the late 18th century a series of transformations took place in the world of European art music that affected musical forms, instruments, performance practice, but also musical tastes, particularly in connection with the social renewal brought about by the emergence of the bourgeois public sphere. The harpsichord was replaced by the piano; the musical forms of the Baroque era sunk into oblivion; the sonata form prevailed and was increasingly used by the great composers. Meanwhile, new, less conventional and more imaginative musical forms emerged; at the time of the great Viennese composers, the variation form showed a strong inclination towards thematic theatricality, both in salon improvisations as well as in the sonata form. Another characteristic aspect of the pre-classical era was the growing significance of musical dilettantism. For more than a century, the amateur musician became the music publishing industry’s most important customer. The publishers, for their part, sought to satisfy the tastes and rather limited technical skills of their clientele. Meanwhile, the piano achieved considerable social significance in lockstep with the pace of its development. Much the same can be said about the harp, which had come to dominate the aristocratic and bourgeois salons. The harp as we know today was developed by the instrument maker Sébastien Érard; around the same time, the harp’s musical repertoire – which overlapped with that of the keyboard instruments since the tablatures of the 16th century – was beginning to change. In his Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made full use of the harp’s technical capabilities and instrumental characteristics while highlighting the major differences between it and the piano. More difficult passages, written by skilled instrumentalists for famous virtuosos, appeared soon after the harp began to play an important part, along with the keyboard instruments, in the development of the amateur repertoire of the so-called style galant. The combination of harp and piano was particularly common in the salons of the early 19th century, where it was often used as an alternative to the harp or piano duo.