I Admit It

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    Okay. I just watched A Night in Casablanca again, after quite a few years, and I have to admit it. This is the movie that truly inspired me to take up the harp. When Harpo finds that beautiful gold Style 17 among the treasure horde, and plays so beautifully, it got me. When he leans his head against the harp with that beatific expression, it got me. Interestingly, in this movie, his solo playing has many moments one might call Salzedo. His thumb action is excellent, his fluxes and muffles are all consciously executed. Maybe it was from Mildred Dilling, but he had learned to play quite well by that time, in

    Michael H

    Having not grown up in the era when the Marx Brothers were really well known, I never had a chance to really know much about Harpo.

    Funny you’re mentioning this but the other day, I saw that very same scene from A Night in Casablanca…At least I think it was that one. The one where he was playing Liszt’s second Hungarian Rhapsody…That’s a Night in Casablanca right? It really was wonderful!


    Everything that I have read says that Harpo never formally trained to play the harp. There is some interesting stuff about his son creating music notation that Harpo could understand and that due to Harpo’s unique style of playing and creating, there isn’t really music notation available for other harpist to try to play.


    Hi Saul:

    I’m with you–Harpo was my inspiration. Somewhere in my childhood I saw a rerun of an I Love Lucy episode that featured Harpo playing Take Me Out to the Ball Game. I was hooked; although it took me a few years to act on the inspiration. I’ve been an adult student for three years now.

    Carol McLaughlin, professor of harp in AZ, tells me she’s met people all around the world who were insipred by Harpo. Have you read Harpo’s book, Harpo Speaks? You might enjoy it. He did quite well for himself, having dropped out of school in second grade…and went on to entertain heads of state with his


    Did you ever look closely at Harpo’s face when he is playing? He always had that schtick that he was silly, slapstickish. But, watch his face really closely while he plays. There aren’t too many people with that level of intelligence in their eyes, methinks. Harpo is one of my heroes.



    I read Harpo Speaks in the last century, for sure. We read everything on the Marx Brothers back then, not that there was so much. I commented on his playing because there is a big difference from his earlier movies. In fact, I remember Marietta Bitter’s son telling me that Harpo came over weekly or more for lessons, perhaps around that time. She was married to Walter Abel, who was quite a movie star as a second lead or character actor. She studied with Carlos Salzedo, as did Mildred Dilling at one time. You should be sure to work that into your article. I can put you in touch with him, if you need, Rod.

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