Baroque harps

When Monteverdi started to write his operas it was high time for a fully chromatic harp to take the stage in the music world; either double-strung or with three rows of strings. From 1560 onwards the harp favoured in Spain was the double, cross-strung harp. And in the German-speaking regions around 1680, when the opera and public opera houses were becoming popular, a double-strung chromatic "David's harp" developed, with braypins on all strings. All the chromatic harps are reconstructed in my workshop in their typical styles. Look forward to the broad spectrum of sounds that the chromatic harps offer - there's plenty for you to discover.

Spanish cross-strung Harp

From the 16th century to around 1750 this was a very popular instrument on the Iberian peninsular, and also inspired the South American harp. The full bass sound coupled with a well articulated descant give this harp a stunning tangibility, even 300 years on.


 
Wood: Walnut, Ash
Height: 164 cm
Weight: 8.5 kg
Strings: 50 in gut
Range: C - d‘‘‘
 
After the original instrument by Pere Elias around 1704. Corpus (soundbox) with cross-strung arrangement of strings, with a plain or turned column, made of walnut or ash. If you would like more decoration, I am open to special requests.

 

Italian Harp, around 1550

This draft of an Italian harp of around 1550 is based on iconographical depictions of harps from the second half of the 16th century. The sound board is still hewn from a solid piece of wood, with an elliptical cross-section, as on a mediaeval harp. The soundbox has five ribs and the column is nicely decorated with a top curl.

Wood: Maple
Height: 149 cm
Weight: 5.6 kg
Strings: 74 in gut
Range: C' - d‘‘‘

 

Neapolitan harp, around 1580

Small Italian Baroque harp with three rows of strings, fully chromatic.
With a pillar height of only 156 cm this type of harp was very popular with the musical enthusiasts of the Italian bourgeoisie. Even today this harp is a favourite, not only due to it clear tone and sound but also because of its light weight and portability. An ideal combination.
Draw up your individual design with me for your own personal Neapolitan triple harp.
On request this instrument can also be supplied as a double-strung harp.
 
 

Wood: Maple
Height: 156 cm
Weight: 7,0 kg
Strings: 78 in gut
Range: G' / C' - d‘‘‘
 
 
 

 

Italian Baroque harp

Two large Italian triple harps have survived from the first half of the 17th century, a time when a large chromatic harp had to face the acoustic challenge of an opera house orchestra: The so-called Barberini and Bologna harps. The 'oversized' Barberini harp with its large range of strings and rich decoration was originally made for private concerts in the Barberini family, and an original reconstruction can be regarded as problematical for opera performances. The Bologna triple harp on the other hand is not considered to be in its original state any longer and reveals structural weaknesses. Despite these restrictions, both these instruments represent the harp-making of their time. Above all they bear witness to the types of timber used, the corpus (soundbox) techniques and the string range.

Large Nuovolone triple harp

In the painting dated around 1630 entitled "The artist and his family", the Italian painter C.F. Nuovolone depicts a large triple harp. The scene illustrating a culturally and musically educated family in the early Baroque period has been a great inspiration for me.
In my reconstruction of the Nuovolone harp I have brought in all the recognizable fine details in the painting. The soundbox construction and the types of wood used are based on the surviving "Barberini" and "Bologna" instruments.
The Nuovolone triple harp has been raised to new life through my reconstructions and its richly colourful sound is highly praised by harpists and international early music ensembles. It is the preferred instrument for performances of Baroque operas at large music festivals such as the Salzburger Festspiele, Utrecht Early Music Festival, Boston Early Music Festival and the Glyndebourne Opera Festival.
I shall be pleased to plan and make your own individual Nuovolone harp. This way you can be sure of a highly artistic, hand-crafted and unique instrument.

Wood
: Maple
Height: 194 cm
Weight: 10 kg
Strings: 88 in gut
Range: G' - e‘
 
 
 

Zampieri Harp

Domenico Zampieri lived in Italy from 1581-1641 and was a well-known painter and instrument maker. It is this fact that leads us to assume that his depictions of harps are authentic and can be viewed as a well-founded source of information for reconstructing historical harps. His painting of King David playing the harp can be seen in Versailles Palace: Close study of this instrument revealed that it is a medium-sized triple harp with a range of C - d'''. The harp does not belong to the group of later, larger instruments with a string range from G' in the bass to e''' in the descant. My reconstruction makes use of all the information revealed in the painting, and the result is an instrument with the typical bright tone of the period around 1600 when this harp was originally built.

 


Wood: Maple
Height: 168 cm
Weight: 8.5 kg
Strings: 88 in gut
Range: C - d‘‘‘

 
 

French chromatic harp

The French painter P. Mignard produced an illustration of this small double-strung harp around 1691: The detail and precision are testimony to the actual existence of this instrument at that time.

I make this harp with its acanthus leaf decoration and the small torso at the head of the pillar, reproducing this Baroque jewel. And, as shown in the painting, the harp can also be supplied with a sling with which to carry it while playing.

Wood: Maple
Height: 143 cm
Strings: 76 in gut
Range: C' - c'''
Weight: 4.5 kg

German chromatic Harp

This harp is a lesser known model of a double-strung chromatic harp, which has its origins in the German-speaking areas of Europe around 1700. In my research I have re-discovered more than ten harps based on the same principles of construction, with bray pins and some with elaborate baroque carving. Literary sources from the first half of the 18th century refer to this model as the “Davidsharffe” (King David’s harp). It was the harp played by Petrini, who was the harpist at the court of Frederick the Great. The early Germany operas and cantatas written by well known German baroque composers as well as dance music were played on this instrument. When played with bray pins it can even hold its own in a full baroque orchestra.

German harp from Sondershausen/ Thuringia dated around 1700

Unsigned chromatic harp, preserved in the Castle Museum in Sondershausen
Neck, column and body with elaborate carving.
Five pairs of sound-holes; Bray pins.
Maple, shellac varnish.
Range G’- e’’’

German chromatic harp signed: Johann Volckmann Rabe, Northausen Anno 1740

Original preserved in the Museum of Musical Instruments in Copenhagen.

Plain, rectangular body with three pairs of sound-holes and bray pins.
Neck and column with elaborate painted marble-effect and carved bust of King David, Apollo or Saint Cecilia, each based on surviving original instruments.
Range G’-d’’’/e’’’

German chromatic harp, simpler version

Dimensions according to a harp made by the son of Johann Volckmann Rabe, around 1755.
Rectangular body, bray pins, black painted frame.
Range G – d’’’