Earliest pedal harps? Earliest French harps?

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    Daniel ODonnell

    Not certain this inquiry belongs in this category. I am working with a European museum about constructing a replica of an early harp. I am extremely puzzled: I know about early German “Gothic” harps, and the Balinger, Hochbrucker and Hechinger harps, but I have not found any references to any French harps that predate the early 1700s, after which (Erard) France was suddenly full of pedal harp manufacturers. Despite much reading and internet research, I cannot find the answer to two simple questions: what is and where is the oldest known French harp, and what is and where is the earliest known pedal harp of any kind? For the record, I am 60 years old, a craftsperson and amateur musician, and not in search of material for a homework assignment! The Historical Harp Society has not been much help … any solid references would be very much appreciated indeed! Thank you!


    Dear Daniel

    As a charter member, past president and current secretary of the HHS, please accept my apologies for any lack of responsiveness on our part. I was not made aware of your inquiries.

    You may want to avail yourself of Laure Barthel’s book ‘Au Coeur de la Harpe au XVIIIeme Siecle’.

    Here are some links to articles on Beat Wolf’s website:

    There are also pictures of an early Louvet at

    Click on ‘Harps’, then scroll down and click on ‘Antique and Used Modern Pedal Harps’, then scroll down to find the Louvet.

    The earliest extant pedal harp would probably be either the Hochbrucker described in Wolf’s article, or the one in the Kunsthistorishes Museum.

    I’m not certain about the earliest French harp of any kind that can be specifically dated, but I do know that Mike Parker built a copy of a French triple harp that was dated 1710.

    I hope this information is useful. Please do let me know if you have any more questions.



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