19th C. pedal harp​

Much has already been written -and in excellent ways too- about the history and development of the pedal harp, so I don't feel the need to add much to that.​

My pedal harp (her name is Victoria) is a London Érard (no. 3819) from the first half of the 19th C.

The model (43 strings) is called Grecian because of its classicist decorations, and it was the concert harp of its time. But when Érard started to make a larger harp model, called the Gothic (46 strings), the Grecian became a 'drawing room harp', also called a 'Ladies' harp'.

Many of these harps have been made, but less of them are still existing and even less are in a playable condition today... Victoria is, but her mechanism needs some work. Her soundboard is not original, it was replaced some hundred years ago. However, there is one interesting feature: Victoria still has the shutters in the back of the soundbox, and the eigth pedal to work them. The original idea was that one could play with the soundholes open or shut, to make various timbres, and it is said that one could even make some kind of vibrato with it, like the swell pedal on an organ. But the effect wasn't so great, and the shutter mechanism was prone to rattles and buzzes, so it was abandoned after a while, and from many harps which did have it, it has been removed in order to avoid noises.

Although I did study the pedal harp, I don't regard myself as a professional player of this instrument. But I do like to keep in touch with it, and with its repertoire, especially since I still teach pedal harp at the music school. I sometimes play chamber music with Victoria, and she also loves to play romantic piano music (Chopin, Schubert... I wonder, could she be suffering from ivory envy?), especially in autumn, when the leaves are falling and Victoria gets all melancholy...        

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