Composed by Gideon Klein when he was 15, premiered in 2016 as part of Performing the Jewish Archive.
Another modern-day premiere of a work written in the 1930s
You can watch the world premiere of this short work by browsing the archive on this website.
In October 1935, the 15 year-old Gideon Klein started to compose Four Small Pieces for harp. It was written for the harpist Marie Grünfeld, close friend of the Klein family. The first piece and the opening of the second are in fair copy, but the third and fourth are left in draft. The slow first movement is entirely complete, carefully notated, although Klein refrains from the complex task of including the pre-tunings, leaving that to the harpist instead. In terms of harp technique, the music is not demanding, but the musical language is decidedly modernist, chromatic and freely atonal. Arpeggio-like dialogue between the hands, and some arabesque-type right-hand figuration, ensures that the music is idiomatically harp-like. By contrast, the incomplete second movement, Rondeau á la Couperin, creates a charmingly archaic feel, entirely neo-Baroque rather than mere pastiche, with echoes of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin which the young Klein, himself a prodigiously talented pianist, would have surely been familiar with.
Edited by David Fligg from the manuscript in the archives of the Jewish Museum, Prague, this piece received its world premiere at the 'Out of the Shadows: Rediscovering Jewish Music and Theatre' festival in Leeds in June 2016, and a subsequent performance in Pilsen during the 'Out of the Shadows' festival in the Czech Republic in September 2016.