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Marcel Grandjany

September 3, 1891 - February 24, 1975
born in Paris, France, composed during the Modern period
Renowned harpist, composer, and teacher Grandjany began his harp studies at the age of 8 with Henriette Renié. At 11 he was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire, studying with Hasselmans, and he won the Premier Prix at age 13. When he was 17 he offered his first public recital at the Salle Erard, and debuted with the Concerts Lamoreux Orchestra. These concerts were very successful and launched the young man on an international solo career, including a recital with Maurice Ravel in Paris in 1913, his London debut in 1922, and his New York debut less than two years later. Grandjany was also a professional organist, playing during the years of World War I at the Sacre-Coeur Basilica.

Grandjany headed the harp department of the Fontainebleau Summer School from 1921 to 1926, after which he moved to America, concertizing and teaching, eventually accepting an appointment as chairman of the harp department at the Juilliard School of Music in 1938, and was made a U.S. citizen in 1945. He remained on the faculty until his death in 1975. In addition to a few private students, Grandjany was also on the staff of the Montreal Conservatory from 1943 to 1963, and the Manhattan School of Music, where he taught from 1956 until 1967. His final recital was in 1967.

As a teacher his influence is hard to overstate. His method is taught all over the world, a distinction he shares with the method of his colleague Salzedo, resulting in something of an "us versus them" rivalry in the arena of harp pedagogy.

Grandjany was known as a sensuous harpist, his technique enhanced by his large, spatula-shaped fingertips. His many pieces for harp solo and for harp in ensemble are acclaimed for their obvious archetypal idiomatic beauty for the instrument. Highlights from his catalog include the Poème for harp, horn, and orchestra; the Aria in Classic Style for harp and strings; and the solo pieces Children's Hour Suite, Colorado Trail, Divertissement, Rhapsody, Fantasia on a Theme of Haydn, and The Erie Canal. ~ Gerald Brennan, Rovi
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