Engelbert Humperdinck wrote the opera Hansel and Gretel as a favor to his sister, who had written a libretto based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. Hansel and Gretel premiered in December, 1893, and has been associated with Christmas time ever since. Abendsegan (“Evening Benediction”) is the most famous piece from the opera, and is as beloved today as it was when it premiered. It is a charming folk melody that is suitable as a building block for jazz interpretation. I’ve written out an improvisation for the harpist to use, but an ambitious harpist could improvise over measures 18 – 35, before taking the coda at measure 36. Harmonics are played on the string where written, sounding an octave higher. As is typical for harp music, all chords are slightly rolled. However, when the rolled chord sign is indicated before a chord, that chord should be rolled more slowly than usual.
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