FOR TWO HARPS
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
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