Harp Family Tree

Posted In: Teaching the Harp

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    renaissancemanohio on #195725

    As the harp often does for me, New linkages between my various interests seem to emerge through my connection with the harp. As a genealogist, a life-long musician, and a teacher, I have become curious about great harpists and their pedagogy of passing on the techniques that work for them.

    I think big picture and by its very nature, I am drawn to visual representations of systems. So, I’m curious… Is there a “family tree” that shows relationships between the various harpists and their teachers, indicating the legacy as it is passed from one generation to the next? I have no idea at the present of the intrinsic value of such a chart, other than historical. But I am curious.

    Thank you. John (Columbus, Ohio)

    Sonya Wiley on #195726

    You might search in Harp Column magazines; or in the American Harp society magazines, i seem to recall an article about various harpists and teachers shown on a family tree diagram. When i purchased my Swanson pedal it came with about 40 vintage AHS magazines which i found fascinating.

    Biagio on #195727

    That would be a huge subject and I’d guess very difficult unless you concentrate on only one or a few modern “schools,” which would be extremely limiting.  On this forum most seem to be classical pedal harpists and you can research the instrument’s relatively short history and the  great names:  French school, Salzado style, Lawrence, Chalafoux, and so on.  But even there you will run into issues – Salzado was enthusiastic about employing different styles and techniques; Catrin Finch who studied both French and Salzado is also adept on South American; Jocelyn Chang (also Salzado style and my first teacher) was a prominent proponent of the Douglas/Dilling single action harp and an enthusiast of the wire strung; Alfredo Ortiz is best known for South American styles but is an accomplished pedalist and his SA techniques have pervaded the pedal world…you get the picture.

    My bias is showing but I would instead research different harp types and designs where there is much more literature and maybe almost as much unknown.  Just for one example, many believe that the SA harps were based on the arpa doppia but Andy Lowry believes with some justification that they were originally  Tyrolean, brought by German missionaries accompanying  the Spanish conquistadors.  Pick up the last Fol Hap Journal and you will see illustrations of over 100 distinctly different harp designs over several thousand years.

    Quite a tale to tell.


    erin-wood on #195728

    This articles was great explaining different branches of the harp family tree:


    And this one traces several harpists trees:


    patricia-jaeger on #195732

    John, when I visited Bavaria, Germany several times and several years ago, I stayed in Lenggries in the foothills of the Alps where the harpist/pedagogue/arranger Erich Schubert lived. He has since died but we had many conversations together and he gave me a partial harp family tree that he had compiled over years. I sent this on to Roslyn Rensch Noah with the hope she would add it to the vast amount of names and dates she already had, from her extensive research. There was no reply. The violin already has such a Tree, going back to Corelli, of teachers and their illustrious students, going through Leopold Auer and others, all the way up to Jascha Heifetz, that I have on my studio wall. Two of my teachers studied with names on that list so that is my heritage I can pass on to violin students.

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