As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had the idea of writing music for quite a long time, but I just didn’t have the time and didn’t think I could do it.
We played here and there together, Spohr, Saint-Saens, Damase…, and even asked an American composer to write for us, the Poème by Michael Kimbell.
But after a while, it just wasn’t enough. I remember my first attempts, for example the Bolero by Ravel, which was almost unplayable, but wow, the audience loved it. Then we added some Gershwin and Piazzolla pieces.
I always loved Bach. So did, well, does Katrina too, starting with learning the violin partitas as training for the fingers. And then she discovered that Bach keyboard music works very well on the harp. One day, she came up with the idea of the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue. I also thought it was a great idea, so we had a sort of competition, she for harp, me for violin. She started with the Fantasy, me with the Fugue; well, honestly, I wasn’t yet sure about the Fantasy because of the exisiting transcription for solo viola by my countryman Kodály.
When we were ready, we played the complete work in concerts in such a way that she played the Fantasy and I the Fugue (I think the othe way around too). Later we both made spearate recordings of the Fantasy and Fugue.
I’m not sure any more what was then my first “real” transcription for harp and violin, but I know I had a lot of trouble. Nothing was working with the pedals. I know, all of you harpists laugh now, of course, a violinist shouldn’t write for harp. Sure. So I learned the hard way; I tried to imagine playing, trying to feel how much time I would need for certain pedal changes, which enharmonics to use, and so on.
My first attempt of the Dukas Sorcier Apprenti was a slap in my face; here I hadn’t considered if it works or not, sent it to a harpist friend, who wrote back, well, sorry, but I can’t make pedals for this.
The hardest piece so far was La Valse by Ravel! I rewrote it 3 times until it became “almost” playable. As the work is extremely chromatic, it was almost impossible to manage, but I made some (actually quite a few) changes, so it became more friendly to the harp player.
Just recently, actually only a few days ago, I finished the version for string quartet and harp of Ravel’s La Valse, now with a really friendly harp part!