John Marson has enjoyed a glittering career during which he has been principal harpist of the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Professor of Harp at the Royal College of Music and soloist and freelance.
To see for information about John Marson
- ...Well produced... clear... gem. Review by Paul Stebbings
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)
1 The Harp prior to the Pedal Operated Mechanism in the Eighteenth Century
2 Inventors of the First Pedal Systems and Appearance of The First Method (1762)
3 Harp Makers, Composers, Method Writers and Female Predominance
4 Approaches to Strings and Tuning and the Use of Different Materials
5 Seating and Playing Positions
6 Hand Positions, Gestures and Movements
7 Principles of Fingering, Tone Production and Care of the Hands
8 Introduction to the Pedal Mechanism, Design Ideas and Single and Double Action Harps
9 Eighth and Ninth Pedals, Damping Techniques, Harmonics as Played and Notated
10 Effects Examined and Ensembles of Harps
11 Modulation, Style of Performance and How to Practise
12 Health and Harp-Playing
13 Matters Ignored in Methods, Glissando Pedal Settings
14 Later Advances in Harp Design and Decoration; Modern Aids for the Player
15 Beginnings of the Pedal Harp Repertoire and Harps in London in the 1790s
16 Later Repertoire to mid Twentieth Century, and Ensemble and Orchestral Use of the Harp
17 The Harp and Spiritual Awareness: The Use of Language Pertaining to the Harp. Celtic Symbolism
18 The Harp and Religion: King David and Angels
19 Social Connections, from Royalty to Street Musicians
20 Poetic and Literary Associations and Representations: the Harp as an Aid to Romance
21 Discordant Voices
22 The Harp in the Theatre and Cinema
Envoi: The Harp as an Emblematic or Ornamental Device. A Recent Scientific Achievement and Maintaining Ideals