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Historical Documents

Historical Documents related to the harp are available here as a resource for study, research or general interest. The pdf documents and jpg images come from out of print books, magazines, pamphlets or private letters and papers. Many were originally collected by Joseph George Morley (1847-1921). It is hoped that they will be of use and interest to anyone studying the harp.

We are adding more resources to this page, so do come back often!

See also sheet music and images from the same collection.

All items remain copyright and must not be sold, replicated or reproduced without permission. If you wish to use an item for anything other than private use, please contact us.

Information on Harps from Brochures, Exhibitions and Lists

1st Loan Exhibition

This programme, from an unknown exhibition of stringed instruments, begins with an introduction to the harp. We learn of the ancient history of the harp in Egypt and Assyria. We also hear of the primitive harps from the Damaras tribe of South West Africa and the author suggests this may offer an explanation of the origins of the harp.

We are also informed of an intriguing effort to add a keyboard to the harp, which sadly proved unsuccessful. A very interesting catalogue of exhibited harps then follows. The harps were loaned by J G Morley and include:

Egan Irish Harp

Richards Welsh Triple Harp 1774

Naderman Harp 1771

Cousineau Harp
Dizi’s Harp – with iron neck; “unbreakable”
Erard Grecian (1815) and Gothic (1835)
Harps
Light Dital Harp (Harp Guitar)
“A newly invented portable harp combination of banjo and harp”. (!)

Erard’s child sized pedal harp with single action on five notes, and double action on D and A.

1st Loan Exhibition (pdf)


2nd Loan Exhibition 1894

Features an expanded history of the harp, mentioning its origins in Egypt and Assyria and with the Damaras tribe of South West Africa. We also learn of its Biblical associations.The writer suggests that a possible reason for the decline of the harp’s popularity in the latter part of the nineteenth century is due to the decline in the fashion for showing a “well moulded arm”:

“Early in the century, when members of the fair sex loved to show a well-moulded arm, the harp, which gives endless opportunities for this, was very generally played: now-a-days, our “new women” prefer to display other limbs, with the result that down goes the popularity of the harp, and up rises the use of the false calf.

”The catalogue includes detailed descriptions of the following exhibits:

Megoum or Alligator harp from Burma

Indian Harp from Mysore
both loaned by F J Horniman
Richards Welsh Triple Harp 1774

French Hook Harp

Naderman Harp 1771

Cousineau Harp c. 1780

Dizi’s Harp – with iron neck; “unbreakable”

Erard Grecian (1815) and Gothic (1835) Harps

Egan Irish Harp 1820

all loaned by J G Morley

2nd Loan Exhibition 1894 (pdf)


A “List of some of the work in daily progress at Mr Morley’s Harp Factory”

Includes repairs, regulation, harps for hire and the Morley library. We learn that “Mr Morley was entrusted by John Thomas, harpist to the Queen, with the tuning of his band of 25 harps in unison at his annual concerts in 1887-91 and 1893 and at the Eisteddfod Albert Hall August 1887.”

List of some of the work in daily progress at Mr Morley’s Harp Factory (pdf)


From L’echo Musicale

Details of the Morley Harp Collection as exhibited at the Historical Instrument Section of the Royal Conservatoire of Music in Brussels. (in French)

Morley Harp Collection Exhibition at Brussels Music Conservatoire (pdf)


Price List of Harps by Erard and other Good Makers, At Present in Stock at the Harp Factories of J George Morley
1894 Brochure. Points of Interest:

An Important Point in the Repair of Harps: Explains how Mr Morley acquired many of the machines, templates and seasoned stock from Erards and plant, tools and machinery from Dodd. Catalogue of Double and Single Action harps;Non-Pedal Harps; Harps for Children and Harp Accessories.

Morley 1894 Brochure (pdf)


1900 List of Morley stock – Paris Rentals

List of Morley stock (pdf)


Front Page of the Catalogue of Mr Morley’s Circulating Lending Library of Harp Music

Harp Music Library (jpg)



Articles on Harps and Harpists

The Harp: Its Makers and Players by J. G. Morley (Pamphlet)

A survey of the decline of harp making (as at the time of writing) since 1835. A possible candidate for blame is N.C. Bochsa. Other harpists discussed are Parish Alvars, Dizi and Naderman.

The Harp: Its Makers and Players (pdf)


From La Sicilia Musicale

Storia dell’Arpa: Parte Seconda, L’Arpa Degli Antichi. (in Italian)

Storia dell’Arpa: Parte Seconda, L’Arpa Degli Antichi (pdf)


From International Music Society November 1905

An article on the Basset Jones Welsh Triple Harp in the possession of J G Morley. The article traces the development of the Welsh Triple Harp and quotes at length a fascinating letter from John Roberts, sent to J G Morley, April 1889. The letter offers advice on how to play the Welsh Harp.This section should give a good indication of its tone:

“A pure Welsh harper (one who has love for his country) aught to be well averst, with the history of his country – and to be acquinted with the mountains vallis Rocks Rivers Dingeles and Dales – so as to be able to give a true sound to his national music – he aught to have a smile on his face, or a Teer in his Eye, – Therefore the right hand in the Bass, has to express those ideas, with the harp that has the rise in the belley.

Welsh Triple Harp Article (pdf)


From La Sicilia Musicale

Galleria degli arpisti celebri: Alphonse Hasselmans Includes a photograph of Hasselmans and also Luigi Maurizio Tedeschi. In Italian.

Galleria degli arpisti celebri: Alphonse Hasselmans (pdf)


From La Sicilia Musicale

il Maestro Mario Lorenzi (with photograph). In Italian.il Maestro Mario Lorenzi (pdf)


From La Sicilia Musicale 1909

Giorgio Lorenzi (with photograph). In Italian.

Giorgio Lorenzi (pdf)


From Eolus: Magazine of National Association of Harpists, Inc.(USA) 1929

Membership list, including President: Salzedo; Vice-Presidents: de Stefano and Veachton Rogers; Treasurer: Melville Clark; Committees, Directors; Chapter Organisers and Presidents.

National Association of Harpists Membership List (pdf)


From Pros and Cons, 15th February 1837

An Introduction to the History of our Poets Laureate by The Editor. Covers Irish, Scottish and Welsh Bards with some interesting comments on the status of the harper in early society.

History of our Poets Laureate Article (pdf)


From Century Illustrated Monthly September 1886

A Summer With Liszt in Weimar by Albert Morris Bagby.
Includes a description of a visit by Wilhelm Posse to Liszt, along with Liszt’s enthusiastic response to Posse’s playing.

A Summer With Liszt in Weimar (pdf)


Engraving of Wilhelm Posse, from a Photograph by Albert Grundner, Berlin

Engraving of Wilhelm Posse (pdf)


Private Letter from Wilhelm Posse to J G Morley concerning the purchase of a harp

Private Letter from Wilhelm Posse (pdf)


From La Sicilia Musicale

Storia dell’Arpa: Chronologia delle scuole d’Arpa by Prof. Riccardo Ruta. In Italian.

Storia dell’Arpa: Chronologia delle scuole d’Arpa by Prof. Riccardo Ruta (pdf)


From La Sicilia Musicale

Galleria degli arpisti celebri: Sebastiano and Giovanni Caramiello. In Italian.

Galleria degli arpisti celebri: Sebastiano and Giovanni Caramiello (pdf)


From La Sicilia Musicale 1909

Sofie Sarzana. In Italian.

Sofie Sarzana (pdf)


Teaching Staff List from St Cecilia’s Academy in Rome

Includes Theodoro Labarre as harp professor.

Teaching Staff List from St Cecilia’s Academy in Rome (pdf)


Hand written list of Concert Programmes 1822-1829

Concert Programmes 1822-1829 (pdf)

Songs of Scotland Programme (jpg)


From Dominant Magazine April 1929

Article (incomplete) on the Harp of Ur, including a photograph. Written just after the discovery of similar instruments by Leonard Woolley in 1928-29.

Harp of Ur Article (pdf)


The Harp Ancient and Modern: With Notices of Some Harpists

Full text of a paper read on 16th October 1893 by Edmund T. Wedmore.The article includes a survey of the harp in Ancient Egypt, Assyria and Greece; King David and the Hebrews; Irish bards; Saxons; Welsh; Richard I and Blondel; the Trinity College Harp; Rory Dall O’Cain (Caghan); the Dalway Harp; the Lamont Harp; the Queen Mary Harp; the invention of the pedal harp; improvements by Naderman, Cousineau, Dizi and Spohr; Erard’s single and double action harps; first and second John Parry; John Orlando Parry; Bochsa; Parish Alvars. We conclude with a contemporary reference to John Thomas who was then Harpist to Queen Victoria.

The Harp Ancient and Modern (pdf)


T H Wright Papers

Contract for St George’s Hall, Bradford Music Festival 27th June 1853

T H Wright Contract (gif)


Irish Airs Notices: 1. How dear to me the hour when daylight dies (Moore)

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Irish Airs Notices: 2. Rich and rare were the gems she wore (Moore)

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Irish Airs Notices: 3. The Origin of the Harp

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Irish Airs Notices: 4. The National Instrument of Ireland

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Lecture Notes on The History of Bardism

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Lecture Notes on The History of the Harp

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Lecture Notes on Ireland

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Lecture Notes on Music “Akin to Poetry, Painting, Language and Sculpture”

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Music, Manuscripts and Tutor Books

Fragment of Musical Manuscript by Louis Kohler, Op. 142

Fragment of Musical Manuscript by Louis Kohler, Op. 142 (pdf)


New Instructions for the Harp Guitar and Apollo-Lyre by T. Bolton

“Replete with every instruction relative to those instruments, Elucidated by a variety of examples corresponding with the modern system.”

New Instructions for the Harp Guitar and Apollo-Lyre by T. Bolton (pdf)


Morley History

1816 Declaration that George Morley was admitted into the Freedom of London

George Morley Freedom of London declaration (pdf)


Hand written list of Concert Programmes 1822-1829

Concert Programmes 1822-1829 (pdf)


1852 Apprentice Agreement between George Gibbs and Charles Morley (apprentice)

Morley Apprentice Agreement (pdf)


1858 Letter from Henry Morley to Mrs Charles, regarding administration of her late husband’s will

Letter from Henry Morley to Mrs Charles, (pdf)


1866 Testimonial letter from L G Wood recommending Mr R Morley as an organist

L G Wood Recommendation (pdf)


1867 Letter to George Morley from Mother

Letter to George Morley from Mother (pdf)


1870 References for J G Morley’s piano tuning by Jules Benedict, K Reeves, Charles Gounod, Vegginia Gabriel

Morley Piano Tuning References (pdf)


1871 Erard Staff List, Rue de Mail, Paris

Erard Staff List (pdf)


1871 Invoice for piano, M.A.K. Morley Piano Forte Warehouse and Music Library, Clapham Common

Invoice for piano (pdf)


1872 Response from Erard to George Morley’s resignation

Response from Erard to George Morley’s resignation (pdf)


1872 Envelopes addressed to George Morley in Paris and London

George Morley Paris and London Envelopes (pdf)


1882 Envelopes from J George Morley’s Foreign Piano Warehouse and J George Morley, Harp Maker

Piano Warehouse Envelopes (pdf)


1883 Letter to Mr Morley declining an invitation to a ball – the engagement is off

The engagement is off (pdf)


1884 Letter to Mr Morley – the engagement is back on

The engagement is back on (pdf)


1887 Letter stating J George Morley’s opinion of a certain American harp made in Chicago (in French)

Morley Letter Regarding American Harps (pdf)


1890 Letter from a photographer to Mr Morley concerning a portrait of Philip James Meyer Jnr

Philip James Meyer Jr Letter (pdf)


1891 Apprentice Agreement between J George Morley and Arthur R Wright (apprentice)

Wright Apprentice Agreement (pdf)


Price List of Harps by Erard and other Good Makers, At Present in Stock at the Harp Factories of J George Morley

1894 Brochure. Points of Interest:An Important Point in the Repair of Harps: Explains how Mr Morley acquired many of the machines, templates and seasoned stock from Erards and plant, tools and machinery from Dodd. Catalogue of Double and Single Action harps; Non-Pedal Harps; Harps for Children and Harp Accessories.

Morley 1894 Brochure (pdf)


Private Letter from Wilhelm Posse to J G Morley concerning the purchase of a harp

Private Letter from Wilhelm Posse (pdf)


“Why Hang” envelope from J George Morley

“Why Hang” envelope from J George Morley (pdf)


Music and Strings List 29th May 1897, Paris

Music and Strings List (pdf)


Photographic document: 2 Rue Theophile Gautier, Paris

2 Rue Theophile Gautier, Paris (pdf)


Letter: 53 Harps sold – Where is the Money?

53 Harps sold – Where is the Money? (pdf)


1895 Letter from James F Buckwell, Harp Manufacturer, 119 West 37th Street, Corner of Broadway to J George Morley

James F Buckwell Letter (pdf)


1898 Pall Mall Gazette report of the court case against Daniel Mayer

Pall Mall Gazette report (pdf)


1899 Letter to Mr Morley from Alfred Zamara (in French)

Alfred Zamara letter (pdf)


1900 List of Morley stock – Paris Rentals

List of Morley stock (pdf)


1900 Morley pro forma for rental payment request in English and French

Morley Rental Pro Forma (pdf)


NEW Oct 14: Notes on Improvements in the Construction of Harps

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Plates from 19th Century Music Collections

Thomas Moore’s Irish Melodies 1808-1834

Plate from Vol. One
Plate from Vol. Two 1
Plate from Vol. Two 2
Plate from Vol. Five
Plate from Vol. Six
Plate from Vol. Nine
After the Battle
St. Senaus and the Lady
Victory with Harp

Collections by Edward Jones and John Parry

From Jones: Bardic Trophy
From Jones: The Blind Harper
From Jones: Welsh Harper
Bennett: Welsh Harpists 1
Bennett: Welsh Harpists 2
From Parry: Welsh Melodies Vol. Two
Telynor Cymru and Idris Vychan

Robbie Burns’ Scottish Melodies

Celtic Dream One
Celtic Dream Two
Celtic Dream Four
Celtic Dream Six
Celtic Dream Seven
Hooly and Fairly Plate
Hooly and Fairly Sheet Music
My Jo Janet Plate
My Jo Janet Sheet Music

Misc. Plates

Capt. Fraser 1715-1742
From Stevenson’s Irish Melodies