Monday, 16 January 2012

Niebisch and Tree Harps

Here are Andreas Niebisch and Nigel Tree in the late 1980s, with Sioned Williams playing the harp:

In most of zone two London a sign saying 'Niebisch & Tree Harps' would mean that Niebisch and Tree had once made harps there, but had had to move out because of rent hikes. 

In the Hornsey Road microclimate this firm still works out of the Bavaria Workshops near Libertea and have  taken on Alexei Spencer-Tree (who'd already qualified as a cabinet-maker) as an apprentice.

I'd never realised how much musical instrument-making skills are handed down from person to person rather than through books. 

So it matters that Nigel Tree trained trained with Munson & Harbour, who trained with John Sebastian Morley, who trained with John George Morley, who worked for the great Sebastien Erard, who fled to London to escape the French revolution and held the first English patent for a harp. 

Sébastien Érard (wikicommons image)

I also hadn't realised how long harps can last. 

Andreas Niebisch died suddenly in 2011 and is very missed. 

 Imogen Barford opened the eulogies at his funeral by saying 'I am honoured to speak on behalf of the harpists, and to try to convey to all those who loved Andreas how important, how essential, he was to us, and what an enormous gap he leaves in our community. We want to say thank you to him for the harps he created and the harps he repaired with such care.

Those harps made, mended and regilded off the Hornsey Road will be played for hundreds of years.

For more, take a look at the excellent company website.


  1. Erard made harps too? I only knew about the pianos. Always educational, your blog. See you a bit further north than the Hornsey Road next weekend?
    (Oh, I haven't said who I am. Never mind.)

  2. Replies
    1. Well, I like pianos and we're in the same place next weekend. Please tell me that narrows it down...
      Tangential at best: is it rude to mention on a Hornsey Road site that Gower Street has a vacancy?

    2. I am still very very very excited about Sherlock being filmed in North Gower Street. I wonder if any of the assassins moved into my old flat?