Source is probably the best known of Albert Zabel’s compositions
for the harp.
in Berlin on 22 February 1834, Albert Heinrich Zabel studied
the harp at that city’s Institut für Kirchen- musik,
where his teacher was Louis Grimm, a former student of the
English-born virtuoso, Elias Parish Alvars. Zabel’s concert
career began at an early age, when he toured Germany, Russia
and England as a member of an ensemble directed by Johann Gungl,
who, in 1848, settled in St Petersburg. From 1848-1851, Zabel
was solo harpist with the Berlin Opera, but in 1855, he too
moved to St Petersburg, becoming solo harpist with the Imperial
Ballet – a post which he held to the end of his life.
It is therefore likely that he was the first harpist to play
in such Tchaikovsky ballet scores as ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘The
Nutcracker’, and it is possible that it was his style
of harp playing which inspired the brilliant cadenzas Tchaikovsky
included in these ballets.
teacher at Anton Rubinstein’s St Petersburg Con-servatory
from its inception in 1862, Zabel was named Professor in 1879,
and honorary distinguished professor in 1904. His late works
include a comprehensive ‘Method’ (1900) and a Concerto
in C minor (1904-5).