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Erard harps: gift notations in the early nineteenth-century Paris ledgers

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

Ledger entry from 1808 for the gift of a piano and a harp to the pianist Daniel Steibelt (1765–1823) and his wife Catherine Dale (1778–1825). Erard sales ledger (1806–09), folio 221. N° inv. E.2009.5.102. Fonds d'archives Erard, Pleyel et Gaveau, Musée de la musique, Paris © Cité de la musique-Philharmonie de Paris.

I would like to share with readers of The Early Pedal Harp a video of a talk I just delivered at the conference 'Beethoven and the Piano: Philology, Context and Performance Practice', organised by the Bern University of the Arts and the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano. (The conference was supposed to be held in Lugano this week, but was then moved to Zoom.)

My paper, 'Beethoven’s Erard Piano: A Gift After All' is ostensibly about Erard pianos, but it has important implications for interpreting ledger entries for Paris-made Erard harps in the early nineteenth century. My principal conclusions are: 1. The Erard firm had clear and consistent ways of indicating gifts of instruments in the sales ledgers. 2. The Erard firm had clear and consistent ways of indicating that customers did not pay their bills in the sales ledgers.

3. Gifts of pianos and harps were often part of publication arrangements between composers and the 'demoiselles Erard' (the music publishing wing of the Erard firm).

This paper is part of my forthcoming book, Erard: A Passion for the Piano, to be published by Oxford University Press in March 2021. Kind regards, Robert Adelson

Conservatoire de Nice-Université Côte d'Azur

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