...Well produced... clear... gem. Review by Paul Stebbings
It is commendable that Kevin Mayhew agreed to publish this gem. The book is well produced with clear, well-sized print and an attractive coloured outer sleeve. There is one section of excellent illustrations in black and white in the central section. At £14.99 it is really affordable given that it provides as much information as a small encyclopaedia, and will always be a fine reference book.
John Marson is a person who answers everyone's questions about harp matters, and has always been looked upon as a tardis of information, and a great help to harpists worldwide in their quest for information, be it for a student's dissertation or a programme-note for a concert.
This book is unique as it is not only a historical textbook on the harp, but also a most readable and sometimes intriguing and humorous look at various aspects of harping. In all areas, the book has been most thoroughly researched. It is not so easy to find as much meticulous attention to detail as there is here, and it certainly requires years of accessing material from many sources around the world. It is perfectly possible to read just one section of this book at a time, as each part reads like a mini-book in itself, and even if one does not require specific facts and figures one still cannot read through any section without learning something. The book deals with subjects possibly considered touchy by others, from hand positions, gestures and movements, and seating and playing positions, to an approach to stringing and tuning.
What I particularly enjoy in this book is the way that so much is added by the way of extra information. Questions which have troubled harpists for some time are addressed - such as whether Faure's Impromptu Op 86 was composed entirely (or in part) by Faure, or did he have a deal with Hasselmans to write it for him? The Author details many reasons for his conclusion, which is very interesting (even if eventually you choose to disagree).
I thoroughly recommend this book - not merely for the harp specialist, but for anyone interested in a really good read. (Posted on 27/04/2010)