Václav Klička's Harp in the Collection of the Czech Museum of Music
The current collection of the National Museum – Czech Museum of Music includes five harps made by Erard, whose original owners were prominent figures of Czech musical life during the period from the first third of the 19th century to the 1950s. One of them was the Czech harpist, educator and composer Václav Klička (1882–1953). His biography is reconstructed here in association with his musical instrument, and is supplemented by information drawn from surviving photographic documentation, press of the period, and Klička´s own written memories. The research takes in economic aspects, with findings available from newly obtained data from Erard ledger books. Their detailed study revealed that notwithstanding the considerable cost of one of the most expensive musical instruments, the noted Paris manufacturer proved ready and willing to adjust this specimen´s retail price to the economic situation in this country. Sébastien Erard, who had worked his way up in the course of the 19th century to the status of the most successful producer of double-action pedal harps with fourchette mechanism, influenced other instrument makers across Europe. His Czech competitor was Alois Červenka, arguably the only professional harp builder in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the turn of the 20th century. Despite the presence of a local supplier, the ownership of an instrument made by the French firm was believed to enhance the prestige of a Czech artist who was well established on the European concert circuit. The Erard harp No. 2284, dating from 1892, which was donated to the Museum by Václav Klička´s daughters, today serves as a lasting memento of not only an eminent artist and creative partner of world-famous musicians, but also a Czech patriot who warmly loved his country.
Keywords: harp; pedal harp; harp maker; Václav Klička; Sébastien Erard; Alois Červenka; National Museum – Czech Museum of Music
Translated by Ivan Vomáčka