“La Belle Francoise” by W.A Mozart,
Edited by Rosalie R. Pratt
For Pedal Harp
Intermediate /Advanced / 10 Pages
Copyright 1969 by CHARLES COLIN
The theme of this work is an old French folk song which Mozart heard his harpist pupil in composition play for him. Only when she played it as Petrini had set it for the harp it was named Dames Francaises . Mozart used it as a lesson in composition for the Mademoiselle de Guines and, together, they composed the variations. Variations II, IV, VI and VII were written by Mademoiselle de Guines and played by her as an example of her work in a recital for her father, the Duc de Guines. Mozart altered the tune slightly, (greatly improving it), and also changed the name to honor his lovely nineteen year old pupil, whose name was Maie-Louise Francoise-Philipine de Guines. From April to July of 1778 the twenty-two year old Mozart enjoyed and suffered this great love of his life. The whole affair has only recently been discovered. The result of it was a complete musical failure in Paris for the young composer since his daily two hour lessons with the young harpist lasted through so much of the day that he had no time so cultivate any of the important musical personages of the time. However, for the harp and for music, Mozart s product was magnificent;: four sets of variations for harp based on old French folk songs, (all from the harp repertoire of Mademoiselle de Guines); three sonatas for harp in C, A, and F; the concerto for flute and harp, (the Duc played the flute); and a symphony, ballet, flute concerti and quartets. By July, the love affair had ripened to the point where the girl s father rushed her off into the country, bringing her back only in time to be married to the son of an old friend of the family. This sudden turn of events, along with the tragedy of his mother s death quite embittered Mozart and he left Paris about a month later. Mademoiselle de Guines died in childbirth about December 20th of that year. The variations are brilliant and charming and completely idiomatic for the harp of the time. They are excellent examples of virtuoso harp writing of the classical period. Fingerings have been carefully marked, and will save the performer time and frustration if studied equally carefully. The single-action harp for which this music was written, was capable of greater ease of chromaticism than even our modern, double-action instrument. Since it had only two positions for each pedal, there was not a danger of slipping too far, and the harp also had the added advantage of allowing the performer to move two pedals safely with one foot. The left foot could also be used on the right side pedals, and vice versa. Generally speaking, the pedaling indicated is as it would be done on the single- action harp.