Symbol of Opera in the Kitchen is the harp, that at every event thrills us with melodies.
But how and when was this musical instrument used?
The harp is among the oldest stringed musical instruments. The word Harpa or Arpa comes from the ancient Saxon and means pinching.
From the 13th century this term was applied specifically to the triangular harp in opposition to the lyre, a similar instrument.
The origin of this instrument isn’t certain but there are very ancient sources that testify to its presence. It is thought that the first harps derive from the hunting bow, in fact the rope stretched between the two ends of the arc produces a sound.
The harps were very popular in ancient Assyria, in Mesopotamia and in Egypt, in fact, some of the most ancient images of arcuate harps come from the tombs of pharaohs dating back to about 5,000 years ago. In the tomb of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses III several hieroglyphs of harps have been found.
The Greeks and Romans instead ignored it in favor of the lyre and the zither.
The harp reappeared in Europe among the Irish and Anglo-Saxon peoples during the fourth century where it was called “chrotta”. From the ninth century to the fourteenth century the harp in Ireland was used by the wandering singers and became a very popular tool as an accompaniment for dances or songs.
European harpists earned a living moving from one city to another, using small harps to accompany their singing, storytelling, propagating news and playing in instrumental groups.
The Renaissance harp then evolved into two- and three-row harps or rows of strings – the Spanish “arpa de dos ordenes”, the Italian “double harp” and the German “Davidsharfe” (harp of David). The instrument is still small and light compared to the current harp.
Only in 1720, the Bavarian manufacturer Hochbrucker inserted the pedals. In 1811 the double-movement harp was born in London, the one still in use at the patent of the French Sébastien Érard.