Harpo’s Harp

 “Many years ago a very wise man named Bernard Baruch took me aside and put his arm around my shoulder. “Harpo my boy,” he said, “I’m going to give you three pieces of advice, three things you should always remember.” My heart jumped and I glowed with expectation. I was going to hear the magic password to a rich, full life from the master himself. “Yes sir?” I said. And he told me the three things. I regret that I’ve forgotten what they were.” – Harpo Speaks

“Harpo, she’s a lovely person. She deserves a good husband. Marry her before she finds one.”– Harpo Speaks

Salvador Dalí sketching Harpo Marx

“The harp is a whole orchestra, if the performer can use its great potential appropriately”. – Anna-Maria Ravnopolska-Dean

The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard.

Lavinia meijer

All harps have a neck, resonator and strings. Some, known as frame harps, also have a pillar; those without the pillar are referred to as open harps. Depending on its size, which varies, a harp may be played while held in the lap or while it stands on a table, or on the floor.

Harp strings may be made of nylon, gut, wire or silk. On smaller harps, like the folk harp, the core string material will typically be the same for all strings on a given harp. Larger instruments like the modern concert harp mix string materials to attain their extended ranges. A person who plays the harp is called a harpist or harper. Folk musicians often use the term “harper”, whereas classical musicians use “harpist”.

Adolph “Harpo” Marx (later Arthur “Harpo” Marx) (November 23, 1888 – September 28, 1964) was an American comedian and film star. He was the second-oldest of the Marx Brothers. His comic style was influenced by clown and pantomime traditions. He wore a curly reddish wig, and never spoke during performances (he blew a horn or whistled to communicate). Marx frequently used props such as a horn cane, made up of a lead pipe, tape, and a bulbhorn, and he played the harp in most of his films.

Groucho: “Who is this?”
Chico: “Dat’s-a my partner, but he no speak.”
Groucho: Oh, that’s your silent partner!

“I was the same kind of father as I was a harpist – I played by ear”. – Harpo Speaks

Alan Stivell is a well-known crossover and Celtic harpist. He first recorded an EP record, “Musique Gaélique,” in 1959, then an LP in 1964 called “Telenn Geltiek ” (available in CD). Following these, he has released 21 other albums including his harps, from 1970 until now (the last one is “Explore” – 2006- ). He also recorded some albums especially dedicated to the harp: the famous Renaissance of the Celtic Harp (1972), “Harpes du Nouvel Age” (1985), and “Beyond Words” (2002). He helped to promote developments in Electro-acoustic and Electric harps.

Another innovator in this field is the German harpist Rüdiger Oppermann, who has also brought together harpists from all over the world to German music festivals and owns a private library of folk-music harps from every continent.

The Swiss popular musician Andreas Vollenweider also plays electro-acoustic harps.

The Irish drink Guinness uses a harp, facing right and less detailed than the version used on the state arms. Guinness started using the harp as an image on its labels in 1862 and registered two trademarks in London in 1876, both of which used the harp as part of the image.

Harpists spend 90% of their time tuning their harps and 10% playing out of tune.– Igor Stravinsky

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