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Harps Can Get Expensive

Harps Can Get Expensive

We all know the harp as a fairytale-like instrument, or we read about it in the Greek myths. The musicians themselves are more willing to experiment. They also try electric harps and use them in jazz. You cannot find a company for harps around the corner. There are only seven companies in the world that make these rare instruments. You can find one of them in Starnberg in Germany. Here in Bavaria, they do everything by themselves. It starts with a piece of wood and goes all the way to the finished lacquered instrument.

The models here are diverse. They make them of mahogany or maple wood. Some enthusiasts even let a custom-made product cost them a small fortune. The most expensive harp ever made in Klaus Horngacher’s workshop cost 200,000 euros. The head of the company has been working in his workshop since the 1970s. In the end, customers even receive a velvet cover of their choice. So, the instruments cannot split during the transportation if it is not done with the highest level of safety.

Orchestras from All Over the World

His artistically manufactured instruments are now in use all over the world. Numerous musicians from all-important German orchestras appreciate his precision work. His company also has clients with the New York Philharmonic, the Bolshoi Theater and the Beijing Opera. Even at La Scala in Milan, they swear by handcraft from Bavaria and musicians in Australia and the BBC. The Israeli National Orchestra is one of its customers, as is the Spanish National Orchestra. Traditional craftsmanship is valued there. It is the basis for top-class instruments.

Accurate to the Millimeter

Despite the success, the workshop is still in the original rooms. Customers like this atmosphere. Here, they need more than 2,000 different parts to build a single harp. They consist of 859 wooden parts; the rest are mechanical parts. They cut, sawn, and plan the wooden components from maple, mahogany and spruce to the millimeters. Specialists are required here. A former precision mechanic from Carl-Zeiss Jena now works in harp making and contributes his knowledge. Another employee used to work in a boat building. Numerous customers from popular music also appreciate this. The company’s customers include, for example, the Dutch waltz king André Rieu and the musician Vangelis.

Accurate to the Millimeter
Accurate to the Millimeter

A Year of Work

It can take many months until the workers finish the instruments. The workshop only produces between 12 and 14 harps each year. The working time per harp can easily be a year. The customers benefit from the wealth of experience. Care and quality are the top priority. That not only applies to the materials but of course also to the employees. You can play the finished instruments for around 40 years. After ten years, the peak and sound their best. That is also noticeable in the price. The top tools cost up to 200,000 euros. Only the most successful and best musicians can do that. But the guys in Germany love their work and are worth the price.