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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Mario "Harp" Lorenzi born 29 May 1894

Mario Harp Lorenzi (May 29, 1894 - June 1,1967) was a popular harpist of the 1930's, whose styles ranged from classical to ragtime and jazz. Unfortunately there is very little information concerning Mario so here is my humble offering edited from numerous sources.

Born in Florence, Mario was the son and student of Giorgio Lorenzi who composed many characteristic pieces for harp and also a method. His pupils included his son, Mario, who started playing
the harp when he was four. He received his diploma in harp in 1908 and became an Honarary member of the Royal Acadamy Of Music of Florence. In 1909 the Lorenzi family moved to London. It appears that during his early years, Mario was touring various theatres and concert halls and was known as the only syncopated harpist in Europe billed as " The King of Harpists."

During the 1920's Mario was living in Kensington and, at then the height of his fame, was living in North London. In 1923 he married a girl who's maiden name was Lachlan. In 1926, Lorenzi was invited by Jay Whidden, a popular bandleader in
the UK, to play with his band. Lorenzi mainly played alto sax or clarinet with the band, but his harp could first be heard on record on “I Don’t Want Nobody But You” recorded on October 12th 1926, one of the earliest appearances of a harp on a dance band recording. 

Mario also played with Fred Elizaldes band, but later made a series of recordings under his own name in the 1930s.  Mario had shown how well the harp can fit into a dance band, and give a touch of extra colour and originality. Here's "Some Of These Days" by Mario "Harp" Lorenzi & His Rhythmics (Vocalist: Marjorie Stedeford) Recorded: 26.09.1935
He had to give up playing in 1957 because of arthritis. He died in Rushton, Hertfordshire (aged 73).

As a "Jazz or Swing" musician, Mario was an anomaly inasmuch as the Harp rarely appears on the Jazz scene. In the U.S.A., perhaps the best known harpist is Adele Girard, who played with her husband, clarinetist Joe Marsala and his bands .(John Chilton, in his 'Who's Who of Jazz', has pointed out that Joe Marsala would occasionally use the pseudonym of Arpeggio Glissandi.) Of course there was also "Harpo" Marx, who while he didn't play 'Jazz', did play 'Pop" music.

Other Harpists "active" on the 1930s English scene included Marie Korchinska, and Sidonie Goossens, wife of conductor Hyam Greenbaum. Sidonie, principal harpist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for fifty years, had recorded with Jack Hylton in 1936 ("Sweet Sue") and had played with Spike Hughes, Carroll Gibbons, Geraldo, and others.

If anyone has more detailed information about Mario Lorenzi please share.

1 comment:

confetta said...

Thanks for sharing this with me!!!