Polish Glass music duo “Glass Duo” graces the stage of the Santo Stefano Basilica in Bologna with a dreamlike interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, which they perform on a glass harp.
The glass harp, which basically consists of a large set of wine glasses each tuned to a determined pitch, has a rich tradition: in Europe, the earliest references to glass music date back to 1492, while it had been used in China and in Persia since the 12th century. In 1761, Benjamin Franklin invented the glass harmonica, which eliminated the need for water tuning by having each glass made with the correct size and thickness to give the desired pitch wtihout being filled with any water.
You may not know, however, that the original Sugar Plum Fairy theme was deemed quite progressive at the time it premiered in 1892: in fact, Tchaikovsky composed it for the celesta, an instrument that was invented just six years before by Parisian harmonium builder Auguste Mustel. In the following decades, the Celesta became quite popular among composers such as Mahler, Holst and Dvorak. Officially, the celesta is a member of the percussion family but, in orchestral terms, it is mostly considered as a member of the keyboard section.