Master Harpists of the 20th Century
THE EXHIBITION • June 24 - December 20, 2003

The harp is one of the oldest musical instruments, dating back to early Sumerian times, and is an important instrument in most of the folk traditions throughout the world. However, the evolution of the harp from the primitive three- or four-string harp to the modern forty-seven string pedal harp is surprisingly recent. In fact, all the major technical innovations which resulted in the concert grand harp as we know it today have taken place in the last three hundred years. (Rensch, Roslyn. Three Centuries of Harpmaking. Western Central, 2002.)

The exhibition, "Master Harpists of the 20th Century" is an exploration of the harp--its history, performers and pedagogues. These displays help the viewer better understand the intricacies of the harp and the lives of harpists. This exhibit includes many rare documents, manuscripts and artifacts from the International Harp Archives.

In addition to these various displays seven antique harps are exhibited. These harps are on loan from the Victor Salvi Foundation Harp Collection. This remarkable collection of harps from the 18th to 20th centuries was assembled by the Victor Salvi Foundation and first exhibited at the Eighth World Harp Congress in Geneva in July 2002. Each instrument in the collection illustrates a unique historical or artistic facet of the evolution of the harp, and provides a fascinating and informative overview of this remarkable instrument. The Victor Salvi Foundation has also donated support to the Archives each year from 2001-2005 in the amount of five $20,000 contributions.

Detail from a Lyon & Healy Double Action Pedal Harp, Chicago, c. 1889