Walter [Dewey] Pfeil began his harp studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Alice Chalifoux, and continued them with Carlos Salzedo at the Summer Harp Colony, in Camden, Maine, and in New York City, then continued at Tanglewood for orchestral training. He played Second Harp with the Cleveland Orchestra, Principal Harp with the Minneapolis Symphony, and served as Principal Harpist with the St. Louis Symphony for six years. He toured extensively with various ensembles including the Royal Ballet, and as a soloist with the Robert Shaw Chorale. In Philadelphia, he performed with a variety of orchestral and choral ensembles such as the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Philadelphia Boys Choir, The Philly Pops with Peter Nero, The Orchestra Society of Philadelphia (Orchestra-in-Residence at Drexel University), The Bala Cynwyd Symphony, and The Merion Concert Band. His theater credits include Camelot with Robert Goulet, Once Upon a Mattress introducing Carol Burnett in New York City, Charlie with Joel Grey, and The Fantasticks at the Sullivan St. Theater (N.Y.C.).
When he was not performing, Walter Pfeil developed his interest in harp innovation and design through his self-founded organization, Harp Technology, whose aim is to further the evolution of the harp, both musically and technologically.
New articles about Walter:
'Fantasticks' harpist revives his old role playing music, making history. (8/28/2005) By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
Onstage at The Fantasticks at the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio, there's musical history on the periphery: harpist Walter Pfeil. Soon to turn 80, the trim, dapper, bearded Pfeil performed with the original cast of the forever-running musical 45 years ago at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in New York's Greenwich Village. Pfeil was only a temporary replacement during the original harpist's vacation in 1960. But he wasn't an anonymous pit musician; this chamber-size musical makes the harp a key part of the show's atmosphere and is as visible as the onstage characters.
Ravel: Valses nobles et sentimentales, in an arrangement for three harps by Walter Pfeil. He gives these thoughts about his arrangement: "After beginning harp study with Alice Chalifoux in early 1947, my first love of the piano took me back to renewing that interest in music of the Impressionists, which was helpful as we know in the harp world. My initial interest in the Ravel Valses came during an initial residency in New York City in early 1951. This piece was floating in my mind until 1998 when I set about planning it for two harps and then soon saw the need for a third. Appropriate, as they are all waltzes!"