Nicolas Charles Bochsa (1789-1856) wrote his "Premier Concerto pour la Harpe in Re minor", Op. 15" early in his career, while still in Paris. As a young man he had a very successful career there, under both Napoleon and later Louis XVIII. But Bochsa apparently liked living outside his means and wasn't particular about how he did so. He engaged in a series of forgeries that led, just ahead of persecution, to an abrupt decampment for England in 1817.
There, too, he found both success - a
founder of the Royal Academy of Music,
and later director of the King's
Theatre - and scandal - eventually
running away with soprano Anna Bishop,
the wife of the man who wrote
(ironically) Home, Sweet Home.
From 1839 Bishop and Bochsa toured the
world together until Bochsa eventually
died in Australia in 1856.
I'm unsure of the exact date the concerto was written, but the low opus number (Op. 15) and in particular the location it premiered at ("Salle Olympique") suggests a date between 1807-1814, so likely written in Bochsa's early twenties.
For me, a formative part of my early
years learning the harp was listening
to Lily Laskine's recording of four
harp concertos. I've since learned or
performed three of the four, but
Bochsa's Concerto No. 1 proved
elusive - there is no sheet music
So it became a bucket-list dream of mine to somehow track down the music and perform the concerto. In 2018 I managed to obtain copies of both the harp and orchestral parts and started working on a new, readable, corrected edition. After many hours at Finale I'm delighted to have done so.
The full orchestral scoring of the concerto calls for strings plus two clarinets, oboes, bassoons, French horns, and a single flute. As well as creating a new edition of the original scoring I've also chosen to create a slimmed-down chamber version for string quartet plus flute and clarinet. The winds in the original have a lot of doubling and very little independent material and so I think this chamber version works quite well.
The concerto is made of up two movements, an opening Allegro Moderato followed by a Bolero.