Note:This thesis is part of a research project submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in the School of Music. The project also involved the preparation and performance of a recital of music related to the thesis topic.

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Title:How to Harpo: A performer's guide and analysis of compositional and theatrical techniques in the cinematic, televised, and recorded pedal harp performances of Harpo Marx
Author(s):O'Roark, Molly Noble
Contributor(s):Yeung, Ann; Kinderman, William; Pugh, Jim; Ross, Michael
Department / Program:School of Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:A.Mus.D. (doctoral)
Subject(s):Harpo Marx
pedal harp
Marx Brothers
swing harp
film history
Mildred Dilling
Bill Marx
Guardian Angels
Abstract:Harpo Marx, née Arthur Marx, was one of the most important harpists in the twentieth century. Although he began as a self-taught musician and never learned to read music, he introduced the harp to millions of people all over the United States and abroad through the Marx Brothers films. Harpo played the harp in eleven out of the thirteen films displaying his unique swing-harp arranging techniques. The purpose of this project is to preserve this great artist’s legacy as it relates to harpists and to create a guide to arrange and to create works in the style of Harpo Marx. This thesis tracks Harpo’s stylistic evolution over his long career in entertainment. It explores the compositional, technical, and performance style of Harpo Marx from his first film to his final commercial recording made just a few months before he died. The pieces that Harpo arranged demonstrate significant and innovative techniques that have been transcribed by the author and compiled in a compendium titled “How to Harpo.” This performer’s guide will enable modern harpists to apply Harpo’s techniques in order to make new arrangements in a Harpo-style.
Issue Date:2019
Publisher:School of Music, College of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Genre:Dissertation / Thesis
Rights Information:© Molly Noble O’Roark 2019
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-04-30

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