Dolmestch harps

Arnold Dolmetsch with the “Caledonian clarsach”, 1933

Towards the end of his life, in the early 1930s, the ‘early music’ pioneer Arnold Dolmetsch turned his attention to the medieval Welsh harp tablature preserved in the 17th century Robert ap Huw manuscript.

He wanted to reconstruct this music in performance, and so he made some medieval / Celtic style harps.

His wife, Mabel Dolmetsch (1874-1963), who was an accomplished musician on many instruments, taught herself to play the new harps, and made some pioneering recordings of ancient Welsh and Irish harp music in 1937.

The harps Arnold made, and the recordings of Mabel playing them, were quite influential in the development of the harp revivals in Brittany, Ireland and Scotland through the mid-20th century.

These pages gather material about the Dolmetsch harps and their legacy.