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date: 17 May 2021

Zabaleta, Nicanor locked

  • Ann Griffiths


(b San Sebastian, Jan 7, 1907; d San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 31, 1993). Basque harpist . He was the most important harpist of the 20th century, and no one player did more to promote the harp as a solo instrument. After studying in Spain with Vincenta Tormo de Calvo and Luisa Menarguez he studied privately with Marcel Tournier in Paris, where he made his European début in 1926. Thus began a solo career which spanned 66 years, during which he gave some 3000 concerts and played with some 300 different orchestras. He made his New York début on 5 July 1934, and gave his final concert in Madrid on 16 June 1992. He consistently presented a large and wide-ranging repertory, and the solo works he introduced have become an accepted part of the modern harp repertory. His playing was characterized by an impeccable clarity and brilliance of sonority, technical poise, flawless control, economy of movement and a meticulous damping technique, further enhanced by a mechanical damping device, operated by an 8th pedal which he had fixed to his harps (Obermayer-Horngacher). Although his technique was ideally suited to his preferred 18th-century and neo-classical repertory, he was an enthusiastic advocate of the music of the arch-Romantic English harpist-composer Elias Parish Alvars (...

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