Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

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Mozart Mania: Over 8 Hours of Free Webcasts Now Available!


More Mozart than you can shake a baton at!

More Mozart than you can Handel!

Ok, I’ll stop now.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has made all six programs of its MozartFest concert series available on YouTube until March 3, 2017.  That’s over eight hours of music available for your viewing and listening enjoyment.  Here’s the link for the “Mo-Fest BingeFest playlist.”

Here’s what you can see.


to Cosi fan Tutte

to Don Giovanni

to La Clemenza di Tito

to The Marriage of Figaro

to The Magic Flute

to The Abduction from the Seraglio


Bassoon Concerto

Flute Concerto

Concerto for Flute and Harp (exquisite!)

Horn Concertos 1, 2, 3, and 4

Oboe Concerto


No 35, “Haffner”

No 36, “Linz”

No. 38, “Prague”

No. 39

No. 40

No. 41, “Jupiter”

But wait, there’s more!

Eine kleine Nachtmusik


Sinfonia Concertante

You can also see works by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler, Bruckner, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and more on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra channel.  Click the Videos tab to see what’s available.

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From Prague to Jupiter—Mozart Symphonies: Free Live Webcast Today!

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is presenting the final program in its MozartFest today, February 4, 2017, at 8:00PM EST (GMT -5).  Here’s the program:

Symphony No 38, “Prague”

Concerto for Flute and Harp

Symphony No 41, “Jupiter”

What a fantastic lineup!  There will be a preconcert presentation, “Mozart from Practical to Sublime” at 7:00PM EST.  And if you’d like to brush up on how a harp works before hearing the delightful Concerto for Flute and Harp, you can read my harp post here.

You can see the webcast at  Enjoy!



Symphony No. 38

Concerto for Flute and Harp,_Harp,_and_Orchestra_(Mozart)

Symphony No 41

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Haiku Wednesday: Microcomposing—15 Second Harp

Painting of angel with harp

Haiku, Quartweet, and now the
15 Second Harp

Harps look complicated.

And that is even before you find out there are seven pedals in the back to raise and lower the pitch of the notes.

Writing for the harp seems complicated.  How do you know it will work, that is, be playable, if you don’t play the harp yourself?

Harpist Olivia Jageurs has come up with a solution.

Jageurs has set up a website called  She also posed a challenge:  she would create a video of any notated harp music that anyone composed and submitted, and post the video the next day.  However, the music can only be 15 seconds long (Instagram limit).

This is brilliant!  You can see the submissions on the website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  Jageurs comments on the submissions, explaining what works well, which components might cause difficulties, and why.

It has been so successful, she has had to limit the number of recordings that would be produced per day, but all submissions in the queue will be recorded.

Add this to the quartweet (the 140-note string quartet) as an achievable and accessible way to encourage composing.

Ready to try but need to know how a harp works?  Jageurs has also posted brief videos on the range of the harp, how the pedals work, and how chords and glissandi are played.  Useful articles on composing for the harp may also be found here, here, and here.

If you submit a harp composition, let us know!  I’m sure everyone would love to hear it.


Haiku Wednesday: The Harp


Music of angels.
If I make it to heaven,
I’ll need harp lessons!

You can see the harp there, at the edge of the orchestra, ornate, gleaming, golden, a serene harpist seated there, adding those key elements that make the music glisten.  On rare occasions, you’ll find the harpist center stage.

So many strings!  How do they tell them apart?  If you look at the strings of a harp, some are red, some black, some white.  The red ones are the note of C, the black ones are F. Still, there are six and a half octaves on a concert harp to keep track of.  But wait, there’s more.

Now that I’ve learned how a harp is played I’m reminded of a saying:

Be like a duck:  appear calm on the surface, and paddle like hell underneath.

That serene harp player is pedaling intensely where you can’t see.  At the foot of a concert harp are seven pedals (one for each note of the scale) that can change the pitch of the strings as needed.  A mechanism shortens the length of the string to raise the note by a half step or whole step.  So, like an organist, the harpist is using hands and feet to create those golden tones.  Sort of like driving a vehicle with manual transmission while typing from a manuscript and trying to thread a needle at the same time.  Oh, and you should probably look up at the conductor every now and then too!  In the video below, Amy Turk offers an quick inset video so you can see what her feet are doing as she’s playing (at times 3:55 and 6:10)

Here’s Amy Turk playing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.  Wow!

Here is a more detailed explanation of how a harp is played.

Composers who have written harp music include CPE Bach, Beethoven, Britten, Dussek, Fauré, Hindemith, and San Saëns.  A list of harp compositions can be found here.  And works written for other instruments have been adapted for harp, as with the toccata above.  Catrin Finch’s Goldberg Variations is another stunningly beautiful example.

But the harp is not just for classical music.

Latin jazz on a harp?  You bet!  This is awesome.  (Edmar Castaneda talks about how he got started with the harp and jazz here).

Metallica on a harp?  Believe it.

I will never look at a harp the same way again!


Image attribution:  Angel with harp. Jan Matejko, Church of St. Mary in Krakow, 1895.  [Public domain] via Wikiart