I am pleased to announce the publication of my book La famiglia Érard. Un percorso storico fra documenti e strumenti musicali, n. 31 of the book series "Personaggi della musica", by Zecchini editore.
Thanks to an extensive cross-data reference between documents and instruments, I hope the volume helps in clarifying what happened in the Érard harp production, especially about the very first years and the later period after Pierre's death. The preface written by Mara Galassi may be read in this page, along with the indexes and some excerpts.
Here is a brief presentation of the book:
THE ÉRARD FAMILY. A historical journey through musical instruments and documents
This volume tells the rise and the decline of the Érard family business, known for the most relevant innovations for both the piano and the harp. Unlike the studies published so far, mainly focused on the first seventy years of activity, the Érard harp production has been analyzed in its entirety, up until the closure of the firm.
The body of the research consisted of handwritten documents, including the firm letters and the Paris and London ledgers, several publications of the time, many existing instruments and a large photographic archive. The examination of documentary sources subsequent to 1855, never conducted before, has allowed the discovery of various attempts at renewal in terms of construction and decoration. After the affirmation of the Érard name in the world of musical instruments, the appearance of new producers at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries marked the beginning of its decline: in France, Pleyel with the chromatic harp; in the U.S.A., the modern harps conceived by Lyon & Healy and Wurlitzer. The reconstruction of their activities sheds light on the competition that took place in the field of musical instruments and communication.
The texts of all the Érard patents are reported for the first time, organized and compared diachronically, in order to define the development of the numerous inventions achieved by Sébastien and Pierre. There is also an extensive section dedicated to the collected data: all the Érard harps made in the new styles; the Érard instruments bought by significant musicians, composers and aristocrats; the harp teaching in the Paris Conservatoire; a chronological list of pedal harp related events, such as methods, patents, concerts and the activity of both Érard and their competitors.
Following the parable of the Érard family, the book exposes critical elements about the development of historical instruments and their value in the perspective of a historically informed approach in modern musical performance practice.
I'll be pleased to receive any feedback.
Un caro saluto dall'Italia,
Giuliano Marco Mattioli