Mara Galassi and Armin Linke photographed the Barberini Harp at the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali in Roma, thirty years apart, before and after its restoration. In this period, the museum has undergone renovations and the harp is now displayed under more controlled conditions. This double photo story can be placed on the arc of our transition from analogue to digital technologies, echoing Harfenlabor's dual existence.
Barberini Harp Project
The Barberini Harp is the most important surviving Italian Baroque harp. This chromatic harp with three parallel rows of strings was constructed in 1632-33 for the harpist Marco Marazzoli by the instrument maker Girolamo Acciari and the wood-carver Giovanni Tubi under the patronage of Cardinal Antonio Barberini. As we still lack crucial understanding of this famous harp, Harfenlabor’s Barberini Harp Project intends to share and initiate research on this harp in the fields of organology, musicology, iconography and performance practice. Scientific Advisory Board made up of Dr. Alexandra Ziane, Chiara Granata, Dr. Costanza Caraffa and Margret Köll develops, guides and oversees the project's research agenda and strategy. This publication presents three stages of the Barberini Harp Project: Convening in Roma in 2016, Interviews with Experts, and Examinations.
Bernhard Schrammek's report offers a concise account of Harfenlabor's interdisciplinary international symposium Convening around the Barberini Harp Project, which took place on 14-16 December 2016, in Roma, in collaboration with the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Istituto Storico Austriaco a Roma, and the Deutsche Botschaft Rom, bringing together musicologists, harpists, harp and string makers, and art historians.
May 19, 2022Read more
Chiara Granata and Dario Pontiggia present findings and analysis related to new facts about the Barberini Harp. By integrating technical and historical research, they offer facts as well as open questions about this sumptuous musical instrument and its contexts. Unlike the other analyses presented by Harfenlabor, Granata and Pontiggia posit that Giovanni Lanfranco's painting Venus Playing the Harp does not depict the Barberini Harp.
May 18, 2022Read more
Giovanni Lanfranco’s painting Venus Playing the Harp depicts a harp very similar to the Barberini Harp. Elisabetta Frullini shares analysis and archival research to propose that Lanfranco might have indeed depicted the Barberini Harp, on commission by his friend, the harpist Marco Marazzoli. Frullini’s research highlights the aesthetic and social importance of this precious instrument and the representations of it.
May 17, 2022Read more
Dinko Fabris presents his research into Luca Antonio Eustachio, described in Marin Mersenne's Harmonie Universelle (1637) as the inventor of triple harp. Whilst Eustachio’s role in harp development remains unclear, Fabris clearly establishes that Eustachio did exist and offers significant insights into his role of a musician and cameriere segreto to pope Paolo V.
May 16, 2022Read more
Joachim Steinheuer provides rich overview of the different uses of harps in the intermedi, madrigals and early opera and its relation to the mythological figures of Apollo, Orpheus and Arion. Through intriguing comparisons of the musical and iconographic sources, the harp appears as an ensemble instrument, as the main continuo, and as a solo instrument, and in some unusual accompaniment combinations.
May 15, 2022Read more
Eric Kleinmann shares findings of decades-long research into and practical examinations of the Barberini Harp as part of his work on building reproductions of this famous Baroque harp. Harfenlabor commissioned Kleinmann to build a small-scale model of the top of the harp for experiments with stringing, and present analysis of changes made to the harp, and other aspects pertinent to building a copy.
May 15, 2022Read more
A drawing titled Progetto per un’arpa, in the collection of the Uffizi, presents a project for a harp with a richly decorated column. Ursula Verena Fischer Pace presents arguments stating that not only was this a design drawing for the Barberini Harp, but also that the drawing ought to be attributed to Giovanni Battista Soria. Soria had worked for the Barberini; his hand is clearly recognisable in this design for a harp.
May 14, 2022Read more
Harpist and researcher Mara Galassi and master luthier Dario Pontiggia discuss some of the finer points of making copies of historical harps, in particular, of the pros and cons of building a true copy of the Barberini Harp. As a luthier, Pontiggia believes he ought to “correct the mistakes" on the Barberini. As a performer, Galassi believes a true copy would offer valuable insights into the musical perspective of the period.
May 12, 2022Read more
This is a video account of aspects of the scientific process deployed by the wood scientists Volker Haag and Valentia Zemke during the The Barberini Harp Wood Species Identification in the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali Roma in 2018. It’s a delicate process, as the scientists must approach this precious harp with utmost care, due to conservation concerns.
May 11, 2022Read more
Institut für Holzforschung, Thünen-Institut (Hamburg) presents the findings of the anatomical determination of structural features for wood species on the Barberini Harp, detected with the non-destructive high-resolution 3D-reflected light microscopy and compared with the data held in the scientific wood collection at the Thünen-Institut. On February 18, 2019, Volker Haag shared his findings in this report to Harfenlabor.
May 10, 2022Read more
In December 2018, Volker Haag and Valentina Zemke from the Thünen-Institut, Institut für Holzforschung transported comprehensive microscopy equipment, including a state-of-the-art 3D-RLM (3D-reflected light microscopy) microscope from Hamburg to Roma for investigation of wood species on the Barberini Harp. This advanced technology enables completely non-destructive material analysis.
May 10, 2022Read more
Marzia Faietti provides art historical context for music iconography and its relation to mythological figures within the graphic art of the 16th and the 17th century at the Uffizi. Faietti's analysis of a preparatory drawing for a richly decorated harp, often attributed to Giovanni Battista Soria, offers a fascinating insight into the aesthetic, political, musical, ceremonial and economic importance of such an instrument.
May 8, 2022Read more
Chiara Granata argues for keeping open the tension between the opposite viewpoints expressed by Dario Pontiggia and Mara Galassi in About the Barberini Harp on the need for a true copy of the Barberini Harp. Granata presents a variety of performance situations and argues that the harp had a varied use: the contradictions preserved in an absolute copy would allow for diverse solutions.
May 8, 2022Read more
Master string maker Mimmo Peruffo is one of the very few remaining makers of musical gut strings. He has learnt this secret art from an old master from Abruzzo through oral transmission and teaching of gestures. In his workshop in Vicenza, Peruffo demonstrates elements of this ancient technique and its simple tools, and offers insights as to why gut string making has been such a closely guarded secret for centuries.
May 6, 2022Read more
Volker Haag explains some of the science and methods underpinning the process of the Barberini Harp wood species identification conducted in 2018. The same scientific principles and methods also help us understand what types of wood are most suitable for instrument making and why this is so—an introduction, in a sense, into the biology of sound as produced by tone woods.
May 5, 2022Read more
Volker Haag and Eric Kleinmann come together in this zoom conversation in order to comment on their respective earlier contributions and conclusions: The Biology of Sound and Practical Examination of the Barberini Harp. Their dialogue of is part of a continued conversation between the two disciplines—wood science and harp building—involved in preservation and construction of historical instruments.