harp was born from a legend. "Ulysses held out his great bow,
and with his right hand plucked the string, which gave out a beautiful,
clear sound like the song of a lark" (excerpt from Homer's Iliad
This is how the principle of the harp was born.
The oldest harps can be seen on the frescos
of the Egyptian tombs. These instruments are either bowed or angular.
Their strings vary in number from five to twelve.
In the Middle Ages the Irish harp appeared.
It is still played today and is known as the Celtic harp. Many young
people begin their harp studies on this instrument. The modulations
are produced by the action of plates which block the strings more
In 1720, the single-movement harp was invented
in Austria. The pedal system appeared: there are seven of these
(one for each octave). The modulations thus made it possible to
play Mozart's concerto for flute and harp.
It was in 1812 that the Frenchman Sébastien
Erard built the first double-movement harps (the strings can be
shortened a half tone twice, using a double movement of the associated
pedals). This principle was an absolute revolution and led to the
harp as we know it today. It became possible to modulate all 47
strings and thus it became a complete instrument. Many composers
became interested in it and great soloists, such as H. Renié,
L. Laskine, M. Grandjany and P. Jamet amongst others, brought it
renown, so that today it has its place among solo instruments.