Remembering Clive Morley

Clive Morely passed away on Jan. 3. He was born into the music business. The Morely family has been involved in the making, repair, and selling of harps in the United Kingdom since 1817, when George Morely (1790–1852) registered his harp-making and repair business in London. This span of 200 continuous years in the music business probably makes the family the longest established dynasty in the harp world.

Great-grandfather George Morely’s brother, Charles, entered into partnership with him in 1820, and their sons, Joseph George and Charles, were both apprenticed to the Paris harp maker, Érard. Joseph George inherited his father’s business and bought the London branch of Érard in 1890. His son, John Sebastian Morley, established a business in Sussex Place, south Kensington, London.

This Kensington branch of the family were cousins to Clive’s family. They had a shop that sold pianos, sheet music, records, and other instruments. Clive was given a piano tuning key as a christening present.

When the time came, Clive was sent as an apprentice piano tuner with Kemble & Co. Piano Makers, returning when qualified to the family business of Robert Morley & Co. Here he worked in the factory, stringing clavichords, drilling holes for tuning pins, and finishing harpsichords.

Clive’s business acumen and initiative were evident from an early age, when as a schoolboy, he went to the Festival of Britain in 1951 and saw his first pedal harp. This was on the Russian trade stand. The 14-year-old entrepreneur initiated the negotiations, which resulted in his father, Frank Douglas Morely, obtaining the UK agency for these harps for Robert Morley & Co.

After some years in the family business, Clive felt the need for further experience and spent some time in the world of technology, working for Marconi, GEC, and IBM. On his return to the music business, he obtained the agency for Aoyama harps, and in 1988, with the assistance of his wife Kate, founded Clive Morley Harps. Inspired by a visit to the German harpmaker Horngacher, who had moved their business from Munich to a quiet alpine village, Clive decided to seek a property in the countryside and found the perfect place in the Cotswold manor house of Goodfellows, Filkins. The business continues to flourish there under the direction of Clive’s son, Ben.

Clive had inherited the wonderful and important archive of harp music and harp-related documents built up by John Sebastian Morley. He delighted in sharing his archive, making it as accessible as possible by publications and, more recently, with digital downloads.

Another aspect of Clive was his love of good food and good company. He was very much loved by everyone in the harp world. He will be sorely missed.

—by Ann Griffiths and Helen Davies

Original post by Harp Column Staff 1/14/15:

We’re sad to report the death of Clive Morley on January 3. “Clive was a one-off in the UK harp world,” says Clive Morley Harps spokesperson Paula Tait. “Many harpists will have personal experience of how he loved to give help and advice as much as he loved providing new harps and restoring old ones. He will be very much missed by his family, friends and colleagues at Clive Morley Harps.”

The Morley family has been in the harp business since 1817. (Read more about their history at “Clive’s son, Ben, and the team at Clive Morley Harps will be proud to continue Clive’s legacy of offering harp sales, rental, servicing and repair for future generations of harpists,” says the company.

Clive is survived by his wife Kate, son Ben and two grandchildren.

Read Clive Morley’s obituary.  Donations to the Musician’s Benevolent Fund are welcome in lieu of flowers.


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