Wagner’s Fire Music

A while ago, I shared my version of Jacques Ibert’s Entr’acte, which reduces the entire harp part to just two pages, eliminating all page turns. It seems to have been even more appreciated than I expected, because it’s by far the most popular post on my site, and people are still sharing it around. So, it must have been worth putting it out there! Just recently, I was inspired by a harpist on in the user forums over at the Harp Column (where I now work) to share another of my editions: Wagner’s Fire Music.

First, a quick note about “Fire Music”. The term actually refers to the final scene of the last act from the opera “Die Walküre,” which is part of Wagner’s famous Ring Cycle. It is the scene in which Wotan curses Brünnhilde for disobeying him, dooming her to sleep on a rock surrounded by fire, until whenever a hero may chance to come by and rescue her. (Basically Sleeping Beauty, but with dense, German fire and lots of notes.) The orchestral score is available on IMSLP, and you can see that it’s scored for six harps, playing three harps to a part. It’s an intimidating stream of continuous sixteenth notes that need to be played extremely loud and evenly, and so the part can benefit from having clear pedal markings and few page turns. Here’s my rewrite of the first harp part.

Fire Music – Harp 1 [PDF]

Where it gets really tricky is when an orchestra asks only one harpist to cover the entire thing, and then you need this:

Fire Music – Combined Harp Parts [PDF]
*(The pedal markings are in French in this one.)

Ibert – Entr’acte

I have a little gift to offer to my fellow harpists.

Just this past weekend, I played a concert with violinist Merel Vercammen at a delightful little church up in Limmen, north of Amsterdam. Included on our program was the extremely popular Entr’acte by Jacques Ibert. It is so popular that any harpist who has ever played with either flute or violin has most likely heard of this piece. Moreover, anyone who has ever played it has most likely been working from the Alphonse Leduc publication with the bright yellow cover. At least, this was the case for me.

I have been playing this fiery little piece on and off since I was in high school, the whole time fighting to get the page turns by either memorizing sections or turning as quickly as I could. It was only this time that I was suddenly hit with a new stroke of inspiration. Why not rewrite the harp part so that all the repeated sections are condensed?

Sure enough, when I did this, it fit easily onto just two pages! Now I can see the whole piece at a glance, and there are no more page turns at all. It turned out to be so useful, that I decided to share it here:

Ibert-Entr’acte PDF

Disclaimer: to save space, I left out the flute/violin part, so make sure you already have it in your ear if you’re going to use this reduced edition.