Harpist and researcher Mara Galassi and master luthier Dario Pontiggia are in Pontiggia’s workshop in Milano, with a copy of the Barberini Harp he built for Galassi, discussing some of the finer points in making copies of historical harps. As one of the pioneers in the field of organological research into the historical harp, Galassi commissioned the luthier David Brown to make the first copy ever of the Barberini Harp.
Barberini Harp Project
This edition of the Barberini Harp Project Interviews brought Harfenlabor in 2019 to Marzia Faetti, the then director of the Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe at Le Gallerie degli Uffizi, Firenze. Faetti provides invaluable art historical context for music iconography within the graphic art of the 16th and 17th century preserved at the Uffizi. Faetti’s analysis of a preparatory drawing, often attributed to Giovanni Batista Soria, for a richly decorated harp with an unusually sumptuously decorated column, offers a fascinating insight into the aesthetic, musical, political, ceremonial and economic importance of such an instrument.
November 7, 2021Read more
In this edition of the Barberini Harp Project Interviews, Harfenlabor visits master string maker Mimmo Peruffo in his workshop in Vicenza where he demonstrates elements of the ancient technique of making musical strings from animal guts. Peruffo is one of the very few remaining string makers. He has learnt this secret art from an old master from Abruzzo through oral transmission and teaching of gestures. Peruffo thus warns us against relying solely on written accounts to learn about the ancient techniques of his art, as they, Peruffo tells us, “cannot be described in a book.”
November 7, 2021Read more
This article focuses on a painting by Giovanni Lanfranco that is today on display at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica di Palazzo Barberini, depicting a harp very similar to the one usually referred to as the Barberini Harp, today at the Museo degli Strumenti Musicali in Roma. It had long been thought that the Barberini family commissioned the painter Giovanni Lanfranco to produce the painting, until it was discovered that it had, in fact, been bequeathed to Antonio Barberini by the famous harpist, composer and singer Marco Marazzoli. This article intends to, first of all, provide insights into the painting with particular regard to the representation of the harp, and to offer a more precise consideration as to when this painting was created. Later, we intend to analyse the painting inside Marazzoli's home by relating it to other paintings exhibited there.
November 2, 2021Read more
Barberini Harp Project / Convening
What We Know, and What We still Do Not Understand about the Barberini Harp
Harfenlabor invited the historical harpist and researcher Chiara Granata and renowned luthier Dario Pontiggia to share and present their discoveries, findings and analysis related to new facts about the Barberini Harp that had recently come to light. Granata and Pontiggia collaborated on the analysis of these new documents on the Barberini Harp through the perspective of organology, and published the outcomes of this research in 2015, in the Recercare journal.
October 31, 2021Read more
Scientific Commentary: Sol di corde soavi armo le dita? Only music I carry as my weapon? Different ways to use the same instrument
One of the typical forms of ancient knowledge, still very much in use in the early 1600s in oral or written form, is that of the debate. Rather than advancing a thesis, it presents a dialogue between opposing views. With this in mind, I find it very interesting that the luthier Dario Pontiggia and the harpist and researcher Mara Galassi express two opposite viewpoints regarding the Barberini Harp.
October 31, 2021Read more
Volker Haag, Valentina Zemke
The team from the Thünen-Institut, Institut für Holzforschung transported comprehensive microscopy equipment from Hamburg to Roma for this investigation. At the heart of this equipment is a state-of-the-art 3D-RLM (3D-reflected-light microscopy) microscope. This advanced technology enables a completely non-destructive material analysis that allows identification of the types of wood that the harp was built of. The scientists’ repertoire of tools also includes a custom computer with specialist image analysis software, as well as various eyepieces and stands for different applications.
October 28, 2021Read more
Ursula Verena Fischer Pace
There is an abundance of paintings with representations of concerts, musicians, and musical instruments in the 17th century Italian and Flemish painting. Musical instruments depicted in these paintings often correspond precisely to instruments owned by the paintings’ patrons. Some painters also enjoyed playing music and even built musical instruments themselves. Domenichino, for example, was also a builder and designer of sophisticated musical instruments. His deep knowledge in this area is reflected in the representations of musical instruments in his paintings, such as the meticulously depicted harp in the painting Il re Davide che suona l’arpa.
October 27, 2021Read more
As part of continued research within the Barberini Harp Project, Harfenlabor invited master historical harp maker Eric Kleinmann to reflect on his findings following decades of research into, and practical examinations of the Barberini Harp. Harfenlabor also commissioned Kleinmann to build a small-scale model of the top of the harp for experiments with stringing, and present his conclusions at the Convening around the Barberini Harp, a symposium organised by Harfenlabor that took place on December 14-16, 2016, at the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali and at the Istituto Storico Austriaco, Roma.