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from Concertino in D minor (Op. 91)

Elias Parish Alvars (1808-1849)
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Cover image Work: Part work for two harps
Catalogue No: Adlais 139
ISMN: 979-0-57032-125-4
Edition: July 2008, A4 stapled score only
Duration: c. 2' 30" minutes
Suitable for: Advanced Pedal Harp
Price:: Two copies of score £12.00 Go to shop
See all Adlais Publications by Elias Parish Alvars


Parish Alvars's Andante for Two Harps is the second movement of his Concertino in D minor (op.91) published by Ricordi, Florence, in 1846. The original title page informs us that it was written 'for TWO HARPS (or Harp and Piano) with orchestral accompaniment (or solo) and dedicated to his friend George Anderson'. The suggested alternatives ('for two harps or harp and piano') and the option of performance as a duo without orchestra ('or solo') are the justification for the present edition as a Duo, either for two harps, or for piano and harp. [When performed on piano and harp, the harp takes the second part]. In this form it makes a charming addition to the repertoire, and has the advantage that when played with orchestra in a complete performance of the Concertino, the solo parts remain unchanged.

The Concertino in D minor was probably written around the time of Parish Alvars's marriage to his eighteen-year-old pupil, Melanie Lewy. Melanie (b.1824) was the daughter of the virtuoso horn player Eduard Constantin Lewy (b. St Avolte, France, 1796, d.Vienna 1846), and brought up in Vienna, where, with her father, her brothers Karl (piano) and Richard (horn), they had a family ensemble. Melanie herself played the piano as well as the harp, and sometimes played piano to her husband's harp in his harp and piano duos. A visit to London in 1844 saw them play the Concertino at a concert promoted by the Philharmonic Society, the secretary of which was George Anderson, to whom the work is dedicated.

Parish Alvars died in Vienna on 25 January 1849, and was buried in the Sankt Marxer Friedhof, and so, at the age of only 25, Melanie Parish Alvars was already a widow with two small children, Aloisia and Arthur. A family friend, Samuel Fischer, born in Hungary, but a merchant in London, was appointed their guardian. Melanie left Vienna for London in June 1849.

By 1851 she was living in London and an entry in The Musical World for 26 April 1851 gives the following information:

MADAME PARISH ALVARS - In reply to several correspondents we beg to inform them that this talented Harpiste is re-married to M. Fischer (late of Vienna) but that she continues her professional occupations under the well-known name of Parish Alvars.

The following year, Melanie and Samuel Fischer were living in Leamngton Spa, where a birth registration certificate gives the name of a daughter, Melanie, born on 16 July. Returning to Europe, possibly in search of a spa cure, she died in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1856.

©Ann Griffiths 2008

Front cover of the score

Sample of the music