Book recommendations please – harps

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    unknown-user on #146705

    I wonder if you might please make some reading suggestions…

    – harp history

    – famous harpists (biographies)

    – any harp-topical non-fiction you enjoyed.

    I have one bio of Turlough Carolan (O’Carolan) on order, by author, Donal O’Sullivan.

    I am a learner (asking the professionals), so advanced music analysis is not on my radar at present.

    Thank you in advance for your kindness.

    kay-lister on #146706

    I love Harps and Harpists by Roslyn Rensch and Harpo Speaks AND The Pentacle about Carlos Salzedo.


    eliza-morrison on #146707

    Hi Neptune,
    you were very specific in asking for books about the harp, and I hope you won’t mind if I offer some related suggestions. Books about music that have inspired me (though not harp-specific) include “Musicophila: Tales of Music and the Brain” by Oliver Sacks and also “The Art of Practicing: A Guide to Making Music from the Heart” by Madeleine Bruser. Another gem, if you can find it, is a soulful book about the art and “Zen” of practicing called “Just Being at the Piano” by Mildred Portney Chase. Every word of it is equally applicable to the harp.

    barbara-brundage on #146708

    As Kay said, Roslyn Rensch’s books are great. I like “The Harp: Its History, Technique and Repertoire” the best, but that’s out of print. Your library might have it. Also “The Irish Harp” by Joan Rimmer.

    tony-morosco on #146709

    Books that fit your catagories that I have read and enjoyed:

    Pentacle: The Story of Carlos Salzedo and the Harp by Meriette Bitter

    Carlos Salzedo: From Aeolian to Thunder by Dewy Ownes

    Harps and Harpists by Roslyn Rensch

    Carolan: The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper by Donal O’Sullivan

    The Story of the Irish Harp: It’s History and Influences by Nora Joan Clark

    The Harp of Ireland: The Belfast Harpers’ Festival of 1792, and the Saving of Ireland’s Harp Music By Edward Bunting by Grainne Yeats

    For non bios or history books about harps themselves and playing I have enjoyed, or found very useful:

    The Harpers Manual by Laurie Riley

    Trouble Shooting your Lever Harp by David Kolacny

    The Gurl’s Guide to Amplification by Deborah Henson-Conant

    Music Theory and Arranging Techniques for the Harp by Sylvia Woods

    Exploring the Folk Harp by Janna McCall Geller and Mallory Geller

    sherry-lenox on #146710

    Carl Swanson’s book about taking care of pedal harps is excellent and IMO a must have for novice pedal harpists

    There are also some excellent books for preparing orchestral harps including one by Beatrice Schroeder Rose. Very interesting anecdotes in this one about the way great composers mistakenly citrate unplayable harp parts. There are also several other great books about composition for orchestral harp players.

    Great reading about a great topic!

    patricia-jaeger on #146711

    A Harp in the School published by American String Teachers Association is now available through Alfred Music, the well known company. It is item number 98-2006015563 . Any beginner on the harp would do well to read this, written by several harp professionals; it saves much time in the learning process and supplements any hands-on lessons you may take. Another book full of practical information is Laurie Riley’s The Harper’s Handbook, copyright 1991, published by Mayapple Publishers, 1424 Crain St, Evanston, Il, 60692. I also highly recommend the Roslyn Rensch book already mentioned above, as well as these two memoirs of well known harpists:Alfred Holy Memoirs by Artiss de Volt, published by Lyra Music in Florida, 1985; and Henriette Renie, Living Harp by Francoise des Varennes, available from Music Works-Harp Editions, published 1990, 2208 Covenanter Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401.

    kreig-kitts on #146712

    I also highly recommend, as a non-harp music book, “A Soprano on Her Head” by Eloise Ristad. One of the harp stores sold it at one point, maybe Vanderbilt or Melody’s, though you can also get it on Amazon or special order it through a bookstore.

    barbara-brundage on #146713

    A few more:

    Folk Harps by Gildas Jaffrenou

    Child of Pure Harmony by Mike Parker (available from, along with video illustrations of some of the techniques discussed)

    Au coeur de la harpe au XVIIIme siecle by Laure Barthel (text is bilingual English and French)

    and if you read French, La Harpe, sa mechanisme et ses facteurs by Andre Emmanuel

    Elizabeth L on #146714

    The Lovely Wedding by Sylvia Clark.

    Jessica A on #146715

    I definitely recommend the same ones Elizabeth L did.

    unknown-user on #146716


    Thanks to all – your replies are printed, filed and handy for my future reference….I may need to live another 40 yrs to get through them all, but I will give it my best shot. I actually WORK in a public library, and although I can pick and choose from online catalogues, I really couldn’t have come to a better place for such heartfelt credible recommendations. Thank you again and take care always. (I will check back in case any more good titles come to mind and pop up on this thread)

    unknown-user on #146717


    Thank you for thinking outside of the square of my request re the Zen practice thing….I have had this described to me and I grok. I will chase this book up as well….actually, I might buy it.

    unknown-user on #146718

    Well, I got off track in my reading…and trust that it is not by accident but for some greater purpose.

    Music as Yoga – Bernard, Patrick. (universal laws of sound healing etc.)

    I’m using this thread as both reference and a personal file now.

    Thanks again for your recommendations. Feel free to add more any time.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #146719

    I’m not remembering the exact title, but Amadeus published an excellent history by Jean Mongredien on French music in the period of 1790-1840 or so, and every harpist should read it.

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