The exact date of this brilliant and taxing piece is uncertain—either Paris 1850 or, more likely, New York 1855. In either case, Gottschalk never wrote it down and left it to his friend Espadero to issue the work posthumously in his own edition. Gottschalk was evidently taken by the music of the Belgian harpist Dieudonné Joseph Guillaume Félix Godefroid (1818–1897, whose brother Jules Joseph, 1811–1840, was also a noted harp player). Not only did he transcribe this popular harp solo (Danse des sylphes
is Godefroid’s Op 31) but also Le Rêve
(now lost), Godefroid’s Étude mélodique
, Op 23, and La mélancolie, étude caractéristique
, Op 24 (Gottschalk’s version appears as 167 in the RO catalogue, published in 1848 as ‘after F Godefroid’). The Caprice (in A flat) is a compendium of favourite Gottschalkian devices—scintillating runs at the top of the keyboard, passages for alternating hands, rapid repeated-note sections—a score to which Espadero adds liberal dashings of veloce e deciso and con impeto.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2003