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The Hochbrucker Family and the Adoption of the Pedal Harp before 1760. AMIS Conference 2022

Lewis Jone and I presented the above paper at this year's AMIS conference, 8-11 June 2022, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


This paper examines the work of Jacob Hochbrucker (1673–1763), who invented the pedal harp in 1697, and his sons, Simon (1699–after 1762), Johann Christoph (1715–1762 or later), and Johann Baptist (1732–1812), in making and, through widespread performance and teaching, spreading use and awareness of the instrument. It seeks to integrate analysis of the design of Hochbrucker’s harps, of which four well-preserved examples are extant, with selective examination of the initial presentation of the new instrument in centers including Vienna, Leipzig, London, and Paris. Hochbrucker’s harp design, including the implications of his string scaling, is characterized in relation to the contemporary German hook harp and Doppelharfe, and his superbly engineered mechanism, demonstrating precision linkage work, is compared favorably with later designs. This collaborative project also attempts to replicate Hochbrucker’s harp for modern uses. Some suggestions will be offered on how a practice-led program of research into playing a range of early- and mid-eighteenth-century music using copies of Jacob Hochbrucker’s early-eighteenth-century harps, alongside contemporaneous hook, double, and later crochet-action counterparts, might be designed.


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