Harps and ladies, harps and queens: the Parisian salons of the last decades of the Ancien Régime echoed sweet melodies created by the diaphanous hands of aristocratic maidens. Introduced in the capital by the German Goepfert in the 50’s of the 18th century, the harp became an instrument à la mode. Richly decorated by French luthiers, the harp offered the ladies an important chance to highlight their elegance. Its shape, in fact, suited to a young and beautiful woman: «a tant d’élégance, l’attitude que donne a tant de grâce, qu’il semble ne convenir à une femme que lorsqu’elle est jeune et belle.» (so elegant is the attitude given to such a charm that seems appropriate for a young and beautiful woman, ndt), Mme de Genlis wrote in her Nouvelle méthode pour apprendre à jouer de la harpe. […] (Translation by Chiara Damia)
Francois Joseph Nadermann: (b Paris, 12 Feb 1781; d Paris, 3 April 1835). Harpist and composer, son of Jean-Henri Naderman. He was the most celebrated member of the family. It has been suggested that he was a student of Krumpholtz, but although the latter was closely associated with his father it is unlikely that the young Naderman studied with him at anything but a superficial level since Krumpholtz committed suicide in 1790. Although not otherwise known as a harpist, his father may have been his teacher, an H. Naderman being named as having performed the difficult Sonatas no.5 and 6 of Krumpholtz in 1785. For composition he was a student of Desvigne.
Naderman lived through a period of immense change, but he seems to have possessed a remarkable ability to adapt to any and every social situation. His first compositions were published in 1798, and their dedications to his aristocratic pupils indicate the social milieu in which he moved. His sets of variations and potpourris demonstrate an awareness of the music of his contemporaries, and include arrangements of music by Boieldieu and Lesueur, including two suites based on Lesueur’s opera Ossian ou Les Bardes. Later, he composed a Rossiniana and Variations on La Gazza Ladra. Three sonatas for harp with violin and cello were dedicated to Dussek, with whom Naderman made one of his rare public appearances in a concert at the Salle de l’Odéon on 22 March 1810. In 1818 another group of three sonatas was dedicated to Clementi.
From 1813 Naderman was successively harpist to the royal chapel and harp soloist to the Emperor. After the Restoration (1815) he, his brother and mother were named harp makers and music sellers to the King, and François-Joseph himself was appointed the King’s chamber composer and first solo harpist. He was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1821, and finally, in 1825, he was appointed to the Paris Conservatoire as its first professor of harp, his brother (3) Henri acting as his deputy. His meticulously thoroughgoing Méthode Raisonnée (1825) was intended for his pupils at this institution, and includes the Sept Leçons Progressives which are still used as teaching material today. The harp adopted by the Naderman brothers for use at the Conservatoire was the single-action Naderman harp to which they would admit no superior, despite the acceptance and continuing success of Erard’s double-action harps since their introduction to England (1811) and France (1812).
Jean Baptiste Cardon: (b Rethel, 1760; d St Petersburg, 11 March 1803). French harpist and composer, son of Jean-Guillain Cardon. He has often been confused with his brother, the violinist and chorister Louis-Stanislas Cardon (b Paris, 1761; d Versailles, 26 Dec 1797), for he was known only as Cardon from a singular last name on his printed works. The Cardon family moved to Paris in 1761, and by 1780 Jean-Baptiste had developed a reputation as a harp virtuoso and teacher. He was also harpist to the Countess of Artois, to whom he dedicated four sonatas, op.1 (1780). In 1786 he dedicated his four harp sonatas, op.7, to Queen Marie-Antoinette and, after visiting London in 1785 dedicated four more sonatas, op.22, to the Prince of Wales. After the outbreak of the Revolution he went to Russia, where he was harpist to the royal family and their theatres (1790–93). He received 3 million rubles in payment for his service; when his contract ended he was also offered 500 rubles for his return journey. In 1791 he married Charlotte-Rosalie Pitrot, an actress at the Imperial Theatres. He performed chamber music in the rooms of the sovereign with the violinist Ferdinand Titz, clarinettist Joseph Beer, cellist Allesandro Delfino and pianist and composer Ernst Wanzura. Some years later he visited France (1802), but returned to St Petersburg before his death.
Cardon composed duos, trios, airs with variations, two concertos and over 30 sonatas for the harp. He also wrote L’art de jouer de la harpe (Paris, 1785), a tutor for the single-action pedal harp tuned to the key of Eb, that includes preludes as chord and arpeggio exercises in the keys of Eb, Bb, C, G, D, A and E. His innovative style advanced the development of virtuoso harp playing.
Philipp Joseph Hinner: (b Wetzlar, 1754; d after 1805). German harpist and composer, active in France. He went to Paris at an early age and in 1769 appeared as a harpist at the Concert Spirituel. He studied the harp with Francesco Petrini and by the end of 1775 (according to Coüard-Luys) his reputation had earned him the office of harpist in ordinary to Queen Marie Antoinette. After a brief stay in Naples (1777–8) he went to London, where he was advertised as a ‘celebrated Performer on the Harp from the Court of France’ at all 12 Bach-Abel Concerts in 1781, and became acclaimed as a sensitive player of adagios. He returned to Paris in 1783 and remained active there as a virtuoso and composer until 1805.
Hinner was one of the two harpists named by Forkel as ‘extraordinary artists’ (Musikalischer Almanach 1783, 1784). He composed numerous pieces for the harp (printed in Paris and London c1780–94), including sonatas with violin (opp.5–7, 9), duets for two harps (opp.1, 3, 8, 10), accompaniments to ariettes by various composers (opp.4, 11) and variations. He also composed two comic operas: La fausse délicatesse (1776) and Les trois inconnues (1783)
Duo Alchimia (Harpist), Alice Caradente and Alessandra Ziveri both grew up in Parma and studied at the Conservatorio di Musica “Arrigo Boito”, where, together, graduated in Chamber Music under the guidance of Pierpaolo Maurizzi.They formed the Duo Alchimia with the purpose of researching and promoting the original repertoire for harp duo that often lies forgotten in private collections and among the odds and ends of libraries in Italy and abroad. They performed in a great number of concerts all over Italy.