Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Very Special Harp: Yet Another “Only in Israel” Story

In this country, even an ordinary music rehearsal can turn out not to be ordinary at all.

Last week, I was rehearsing for a gig in a practice room at the music academy on Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus. One of the two accompanists played the harp. (The other played the flute.) I noticed that of the three harps in the practice room, the harpist was playing the one that was the most visually interesting. Its sound post was beautifully carved, and it had intricate designs in gold paint. Its tone was rich and sweet.

After we had rehearsed for about an hour, the harpist gestured toward the harp she had been playing and asked me, “Do you know whose harp this was?”

“No,” I said.

“It belonged to Harpo Marx,” she said. “He donated it to the academy long ago.”

And indeed, here it is in his Wikipedia entry:

In his will, he donated his trademark harp to the nation of Israel.

I had seen Harpo Marx’s harp solos in Marx Brothers films when I was a child, and I remembered what a fantastic musician he was. And here I’d been singing to the accompaniment of his harp for a whole hour!

Two thoughts raced through my mind then. One was: I need to pick my jaw up off the floor. The other was: Of all the days for my camera to be in the shop!

Wow. Only in Israel.

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