Three Harp Songs

Song Collection

Three Harp Songs is a song cycle by John Harbison setting the poetry of Gary Snyder, Michael Fried, and Ian Hamilton. The songs are for tenor and harp.

Date: 1975Composer: John HarbisonText: Gary Snyder, Michael Fried

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Composer Note


The composition of Three Harp Songs in May 1975 appears in retrospect to be a marking of the departure from Cambridge of my friend Michael Fried, who wrote the second poem in the set. The outer occasions were a publisher’s suggestion that I write a piece for a tour by two prominent performers (my response came after the tour was over), and my interest in learning about the harp’s special qualities (preparatory to a large orchestral piece in which it figures prominently).

Like much of the music I have written in alternation with larger pieces, the Harp Songs tend toward serenity. They are dedicated to Wassily Leontief upon his retirement as chairman of the society of fellows at Harvard University.

–John Harbison


1. August Was Foggy (Gary Snyder)
2. Falling Asleep (Michael Fried)
3. Poem (Ian Hamilton)

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