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HEAVENLY MUSIC? SOUNDS ITALIAN
Rome - (Ign) - Italian style, spectacular design, perfect instruments from every point of view. These are the harps produced by Victor Salvi's Nsm Spa (Nuova Strumenti Musicali) (www.salviharps.it).
Based in Piasco (in the province of Cuneo, in Piedmont), Nsm is one of the most important harp producers in the world. For over 50 years the firm of Salvi has been building harps in respect of the highest tradition of instrument making and applying the latest woodworking technology. Nsm is today a company with 80 workers and an annual turnover of around âŹ10m. It produces around 1500 harps a year, 90% of which are exported all over the world thanks to a capillary distribution network. In particular, in collaboration with the American company "Lyon & Healy" it supplies the majority of the world market.
The merit of this success is all down to Victor Salvi, the son of a skilled Venetian instrument maker who had moved to Viaggiano - a small town in southern Italy famous for harp making. Salvi was a successful harpist with the Philarmonic Orchestra of New York and the NBC Orchestra conducted by the great maestro Arturo Toscanini, but in 1956 came back from the United States to his land of origin, Italy. He first settled in Liguria, but soon moved to Piasco, a town with a rich woodworking tradition. This was where the great adventure started, which soon saw the harps produced in Piasco ending up in the hands of the world's great harpists, arriving in legendary conservatories and theatres, such as the Metropolitan in New York and the Bolshoi in Moscow.
Salvi's harps are the best on the market thanks to the particular care with which they are built. Each model requires 2000 mechanical pieces, around 150 parts in wood and many hours of work. The procedure which requires most care is the selection of the woods: to guarantee a Salvi harp stability and resistance over time the most solid maple wood from Michigan is used. For the sound board Salvi chooses Norway spruce from the forests of the Val di Fiemme, in South Tyrol: and it is no coincidence that this was the same wood used by Antonio Stradivarius for his legendary violins. The age-old problem of stringed instruments - namely the stability of the tuning - has been resolved with an assemblage of prized woods whose technical characteristics ensure high structural stability. But the most visible trademark of Salvi harps are the decorations and inlay work, which make them instruments of great beauty. All this finishing is carried out by hand, and the gilding alone of a single piece requires 200 hours of work.
Salvi produces all types of harps, from Celtic harps costing around âŹ1700, up to gilded concert instruments with inlay work which may cost as much as âŹ80,000. The pedal harps are divided into four categories: gilded, Gran Concerto, Semi Grand, and Studio Daphne. The Celtic harps are divided into professional, studio and semiacoustic models. The latter represent a great innovation, since they are designed to give power to the sound, without compromising the characteristic tone of an acoustic instrument. The Egan Elettroacustica model, the result of research and experiments carried out in the laboratories in Piasco, allows the harpist to obtain a pure, "acoustic" sound, which extends harmoniously and uniformly over the whole range of frequencies, from the highest the lowest. This is thanks to two monophone outputs and an impressive 38 directional pickups, one mounted on each string. The result is incredible: warm deep lows, harmonious middles and sparkling high notes. The sound, at once amplified and natural, provides unique listening pleasure.
Lastly, for Salvi harps are not just a business: the Victor Salvi Foundation, also in Piasco, has also opened to the public a Harp Museum (www.museodellarpavictorsalvi.it), which collects antique (from the 18th to the 20th century) and ethnic pieces of inestimable value. This is proof of the love that lies behind a successful brand