The collection of the National Museum – Czech Museum of Music contains the largest set of harps built by Franz Brunner. This instrument maker was one of the most important builders of pedal harps in Vienna in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Brunner’s harps use a single-action pedal design, the fourchette mechanism, decorations in the Empire style, and in a few cases, the application of a new design principle with the use of an eighth pedal. This documents an important stage in the instrument’s development, in which the single-action pedal harp was gaining ground in competition with the double-action harp. In the course of research, the maker was identified for another two instruments that had previously been listed as harps by anonymous makers. The comparisons include another three specimens of harps made by Brunner from other music collections abroad.
The present harp collection of the National Museum – Czech Museum of Music contains Erard pedal harps from various periods of that famed Parisian company’s activity. In creating musical instruments, Sébastian Erard built upon the work of G. Cousineau and C. Groll and became the most successful manufacturer of double-action pedal harps with a fourchette (fork) mechanism (mécanique à fourchettes et à double mouvement). Erard’s work as an instrument maker influenced not only the historical development of the harp, but also the work of other instrument makers. In Bohemia, the Czech harp maker Alois Červenka (1858–1938) built upon Erard’s work with great success. The Erard harps in the collection of the Czech Museum of Music document the Czech socio-cultural context in which the harps of the French instrument maker were used from the late nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth.