Skip to comments.For a Rare Discarded Harp, a Chance to Sing Again
Posted on 08/10/2009 7:20:31 AM PDT by BGHater
To a certain type of New Yorker,every Dumpster is a potential treasure chest,right up there with thrift stores and stoop sales.
But if the scavenger gods offer only a finite number of prizes, Julie Finch might have claimed one of them.
Last month Ms. Finch stood on her toes to peer into the Dumpster outside her building on West 26th Street and found a blue wooden harp distinguished mainly by caked layers of grime and dust and a snarl of broken strings.
It was this old thing with wires going in all directions, she said.It didnt look like anything anybody could play.
Still, as a lover of found objects, Ms. Finch felt duty bound to take the harp home. She offered it to a neighbor whose brother is a composer, but the mans wife objected after seeing its sorry condition. So Ms. Finch used wood-floor soap to clean the harp and discovered not only clusters of hand-painted gold shamrocks climbing the column and soundboard,but a brass plaque bearing the name of the instruments maker,John Egan, and an address on Dawson Road in Dublin.
Egan, who is thought to have made instruments from the late 1700s until about 1840, is seen by many as the father of the modern Irish harp. In the 19th century his instruments were used by nationalist balladeers, like the poet Thomas Moore, who wrote The Harp that Once Through Taras Halls. Today universities and museums collect them.
The ancient Irish harp tradition, which goes back to medieval times, was dying out around 1800, Simon Chadwick, honorary secretary of the Historical Harp Society of Ireland, wrote in an e-mail message.
Lorcan Otway with a 19th-century harp that was found in a Dumpster. He plans to have it restored by an expert in London.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
There’s a special place in perdition for anybody who would throw out such a lovely thing. Good grief! Might as well chuck a Strad in the dumpster. Even if the soundboard is split it’s still worth restoring.
I have a cherished French Horn(really good one with hardshell case) I found at a Goodwill Store.
I have a little Irish lap harp. It isn’t really Irish - it was made here locally by a luthier, it’s a pretty little thing and has a lovely sound.
The Chelsea area in NYC was a big Irish settlement in the mid to late 1800s. I know, because my ancestors lived a block away from where they found that harp (West 25th street, between 8th and 9th avenue).
I wonder if the harp was a relic of those times and was brought over during the famine migration that filled up the area, and who threw it out (and what other treasures of that time may have ended up in a dumpster).
Thanks BGHater!...Ms. Finch used wood-floor soap to clean the harp and discovered not only clusters of hand-painted gold shamrocks climbing the column and soundboard,but a brass plaque bearing the name of the instrument's maker,John Egan, and an address on Dawson Road in Dublin. Egan, who is thought to have made instruments from the late 1700s until about 1840, is seen by many as the father of the modern Irish harp. In the 19th century his instruments were used by nationalist balladeers, like the poet Thomas Moore... "The ancient Irish harp tradition, which goes back to medieval times, was dying out around 1800," Simon Chadwick, honorary secretary of the Historical Harp Society of Ireland, wrote...To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
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A little bit of history.
I am not a musician or a dumpster diver but I would have rescued that harp in a second! What a find!
Yeah, me too, btw.
What a great story. Wish they would have posted a sound bite with it.
Noo Yawkers are so friggin' cosmopolitan...
What sort of harp do you play? Mine's a little 22 string lap harp, with sharping levers (thank goodness!)
Mine is a 31 string Cunningham. Had it since 1989, but have only been playing since 1996.
What a amazing contrast!
One guy is wearing headphones and is trying to ignore the world. While the other man, notice's the beauty of the Harp, by keeping his eyes and ‘ears’ open.
If you go here: Link
There are thumbnail pictures, including close-ups of the painting and workmanship. Click to enlarge. Enjoy.
I have a baby grand piano I bought from an old guy. It’s an antique that I had restored(inside not out). It was costly but was well worth the money.
Back for more coffee.
And for the poster lamenting obout the person who threw it out — the owner had DIED. It was part of a collection of antique instruments at a music business. It wasn’t taken when the business moved. People cleaning out the business discarded it.
Small world (I guess it's not too surprising, there are not a lot of harp makers around!) Next you're going to tell me you have a harpsichord made by the chiropractor in Acworth? (I don't know if he's a good chiropractor but he IS a darn good harpsichord maker. Our church music director, who is something of a harpsichord expert even though his doctorate from Juilliard is in organ performance, says it's one of the best he's ever played.)
No excuse. The people cleaning it out should be keel hauled (or forced to listen to Marty Haugen music for days on end).
How interesting! My ministry coordinator, the Spanish battleax (that’s a compliment), played the Celtic and floor harp, piano, accordian, and organ. When we helped her move last year, she still had a small Irish harp that she was taking with her to her daughter’s spare room.
We have a 1918 grand piano (not sure it’s a baby grand - it’s a 5’8”) that my parents had restored. As you say, well worth it, it’s better than anything you can buy today.
If you're musically inclined, the instruments DO seem to sort of accumulate. Just thinking aloud here, we have the piano, the harpsichord, the lap harp, too many guitars to count (electric, steel string, and classical), about 25 pennywhistles, two clarinets, a flute, gongs, cowbells, tambourines, claves . . . . sheesh! we can really make a racket here!)
In today’s terms, it isn’t a baby grand. They have down-sized everything. A grand usually meant one the size of a concert grand, which mine isn’t. It’s 6 ft long.
That’s excellent. It’s hard to get good bass sound in anything shorter than a 5’7” (although I used to have a Sohmer that had terrific bass). Even then it really depends on the quality of the maker.
(they must have sneaked in while I wasn't looking).
http://www.hurrellharp.com/historicharp.htm Here is a link to Nancy Hurrell playing an Egan harp, Endearing Young Charms. It is a very appropriate tune, as Thomas Moore (who wrote the song) had an Egan, very like mine.
All the best
Animals do that at my house!
Thank you so much. That is lovely.
There was noise abroad of a yellow Lab female, but the owner of the bitch hadn't had the mother tested for EIC (which my poor Ruby has!) so I chickened out. I'll wait for a thoroughly tested pup.
I discovered that a full brother of my Shelley the Star is intact and will probably be bred. I already put my name in the hat!
Great! I hope you get a good healthy puppy!
We took our dragons to the herpet-vet yesterday. Slash has been acting poorly, but the vet said he’s fine. It is winter in Australia, after all.
The boys are saying we should get a female *now* if we want to breed Santana next year. I suppose I should look into it before they all go to (local) winter snoozies.
Very pretty. Tom Moore is a hardy perennial. It sounds like a gut (nylon) strung harp - the sound seems a little constricted but that may be the miking. Do these harps typically have a big or a small room sound?
She's very good with dogs and cats though. She has looked after kitties for me since 1978, and since she competes her own dogs in agility, she has a good feel for the needs of athletic dogs (as opposed to couch potatoes). And my dogs LOVE to go to the vet (mostly because the pockets of her coat are full of treats!)
We had to find the herpet-vet in a hurry, when Santana bit Slash’s foot off a year ago. He also treats mammals, but we have a more convenient vet for the warm-blooded pets.
He said our dragons look really good. They’re growing in popularity, but their care still involves a lot of trial and error, unfortunately.
Miss Ruby was spayed last Friday, our vet just got a laparascope and was doing a special deal -- lap spay for the price of a conventional spay. So Miss Ruby got a bargain and a mere 1 1/2" incision (quick healing), but thinking of all the money I saved, I had a lap gastropexy done while they had her knocked out - so I didn't save any money and Ruby has TWO 1 1/2" incisions - oh well! At least I don't have to worry about GDV if she bloats.
Yes, bit off completely. Left rear foot. They’re both males, you see.
Slash gets along fine as an amputee, once we got them separate cages. It just slows down his tunnelling, having only one rear foot.
(Ruby is - I guess I should say was - completely oblivious to the advances of the boys even when in standing heat. On the other hand, Shelley who was spayed at 7 months is a shameless flirt - she is known as "the Pole Dancer" or by even ruder names.)