The harp is one of the oldest musical instruments, but composers of serious music did not write much for it until the beginning of the nineteenth century. In the Baroque period, the harp was sometimes called for to accompany voices in certain scenes in operas, especially those places where a celestial mood is required. The instrument was also one of the optional instruments in the basso continuo part, a group of instruments discretionally playing notes and harmony to support solo voices and instruments. Solo music for the harp, on the other hand, was scarcely composed. Händel’s Concerto for Harp in B-flat Major, HWV 294 is a wonderful exception. The situation did not change much in the second half of the eighteenth century; however, there were a higher number of musicians who composed music for the harp. After the pedal harp was fully developed in the early nineteenth century, composers began to write a significant amount of music for the instrument.
Harp Concerto in E-flat Major, Op. 74 was composed by Reinhold Glière in 1938. To complete the composition, the composer needed much help from Ksenia Alexandrovna Erdely (1878–1971), a Russian harp player who was the soloist at the first performance of the concerto on November 23, 1938. The work, consisting of three movements, is written in a rather conservative manner and is full of Romantic ideas and sounds.