Salzedo (actually, Salzédo), (Léon) Carlos

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Salzedo (actually, Salzédo), (Léon) Carlos

Salzedo (actually, Salzédo), (Léon) Carlos , eminent French-born American harpist, pedagogue, and composer; b. Arcachon, April 6, 1885; d. Waterville, Maine, Aug. 17, 1961. He studied at the Bordeaux Cons. (1891–94), winning the premier prix in piano; then entered the Paris Cons., where his father, Gaston Salzedo, was a prof. of singing; studied with Charles de Bériot (piano), gaining the premier prix in 1901, and with Hasselmans (harp), also receiving the premier prix. He began his career as a concert harpist upon graduation; traveled all over Europe (1901–05); was solo harpist of the Association des Premiers Prix de Paris in Monte Carlo (1905–09). In 1909 he settled in N.Y.; was first harpist in the orch. of the Metropolitan Opera (1909–13). In 1913 he formed the Trio de Lutèce (from Lutetia, the ancient name for Paris), with Georges Barrère (flute) and Paul Kéfer (cello). In 1921 he was co-founder, with Edgard Varèse, of the International Composers’ Guild in N.Y., with the aim of promoting modern music; this organization presented many important contemporary works; in the same year, he founded a modern music magazine, Eolian Review, later renamed Eolus (discontinued in 1933). He became a naturalized American citizen in 1923. He taught at the Inst. of Musical Art in N.Y., and the Juilliard Graduate School of Music; organized and headed the harp dept. at the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia. In 1931 he established the Salzedo Harp Colony at Camden, Maine, for teaching and performing during the summer months. Salzedo introduced a number of special effects, and publ. special studies for his new techniques; designed a “Salzedo Model” harp, capable of rendering novel sonorities (Eolian flux, Eolian chords, gushing chords, percussion, etc.). His own compositions are rhythmically intricate and contrapuntally elaborate and require a virtuoso technique. He publ. Modern Study of the Harp (N.Y., 1921; second ed., 1948), Method for the Harp (N.Y., 1929), and The Art of Modulating (with L. Lawrence; N.Y., 1950).


3 morceaux for Harp (1913); Terres enchantées or The Enchanted Isle, symphonic poem for Harp and Orch. (1918; Chicago, Nov. 28, 1919, composer soloist); 5 Poetical Studies for Harp (1918); 3 Poems for Soprano, 6 Harps, and 3 Wind Instruments (1919); Bolmimerie for 7 Harps (1919); 4 Preludes to the Afternoon of a Telephone for 2 Harps (1921); Harp Sonata (1922); 3 Poems by Mallarmé for Soprano, Harp, and Piano (1924); 2 harp concertos: No. 1 for Harp and 7 Wind Instruments (1925–26; N.Y., April 17, 1927, composer soloist) and No. 2 (n.d.; orchestration completed by R.R. Bennett); Pentade, 5 pieces for 2 Harps (1928); Préambule et Jeux for Harp, 4 Wind Instruments, and 5 String Instruments (Paris, 1929); Scintillation for Harp (1936); Panorama, suite for Harp (1937); Suite for Harp (1943); 10 Wedding Presents for Harp (1946–52); Prélude fatidique for Harp (1954); various other works; many transcriptions for Harp.


S. Archambo, C. S. (1885–1961): The Harp in Transition (diss., Univ. of Kans., 1984).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire