Forum Posts

Giuliano Marco Mattioli
Apr 06, 2022
In General Discussions
Dear colleagues, 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
New book on Érard harps content media
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Giuliano Marco Mattioli
Aug 23, 2020
In General Discussions
Hello everybody, After discussing with Robert Adelson regarding a harp I'm currently restoring, he suggested to write in this forum to hear different opinions. The harp is an Erard Empire simple-action, with soupape. The plate doesn't bear any number whatsoever I think this instrument is almost identical to the harp number 7 held in the Musée de la musique in Paris because of the same mechanism, decoration and style Apparently these two instruments should be of the same period but the soupape of mine left me quite puzzled as its hinges are on the other side of every other harp I have ever seen before I was wondering if this instrument was a kind of an experiment so built before the first harp made in 1799, as it has the fourchettes outside of the plate as in the patent of 1794. The harps made before this kind of mechanism, which were made between 1786 and 1794 had the fourchettes inside, like the so called "prototype" number 1 which was in the Érard collection and now at the Musée in France. Thanks to the letters contained in the book "The history of the Erard piano and harp in letters and documents" by Adelson et al, we know that Sébastien was already building several harps in 1791 with the new mechanism, he was surely referring to the fourchettes but we cannot know if they were inside the plate or outside. By the pictures found its plausible to say that the first harps ever made were like the prototype, and that from a certain later moment the harps were like mine and number 7, which is referred to as Grand Modèle About my harp the only number I could find was the roman number III inside the harp in places almost impossible to see without disassembling it, as the inner side of the two plates, the base and the mechanism itself Usually even in cases of multiple numbers inside of a harp, as with modern ones with a number for the mechanism and another for the woodwork (which is the same of the register), the numbers are always hindu-arabic. As Lewis Jones pointed out in abother article, the internal numbers, which could be even three different ones, were probably used for internal use during production. Robert also told me that Panagiotis Poulopoulos made an article regarding multiple numbers in ancient harps. I actually believe that this harp might be the third ever made with the fourchettes outside, before starting the ledgers, as a prototype because on the taquet and in its slot there is the same number III The number on the taquet of all the harps has always been the same of the harp itself on the plate. I also discovered that in the later empire, 1810s and further, there used to be small circles on it beside the number. I believe that in that case the circles could have been used for assemblying the harp with the right pieces during production. Another possible explanation could be that this instrument is number 3 of the ledger, in which there is a blank space, but used as an instrument to be rented and never sold. I'm asking to you all if anyone has any other clue about the number and date of this instrument, about the signs on the taquet and also if anyone has any picture of harps bearing numbers around 7 if they could provide them.
Érard's Empire single-action harp with no number on plate content media
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Giuliano Marco Mattioli

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