American Lutherie #88
Winter Issue 2006
Web Extras

American Lutherie #88 is available as a back issue, click here.

Author Alain Bieber sends this additional info about lyra guitars on the web:

If you want to explore the resources of the web dealing with this forgotten instrument you can first give priority to three sites which are trying to synthesize the material available. Those three sites are a good and reliable introduction to the topic.

Eleonora Vulpiani’s personnal site is entirely devoted to the lyra guitar. It covers the history of the instrument, the iconography (with a surprising young Ludwig Van Beethoven portrait!), the repertoire and some more information on Eleonora’s young and promising carreer.
• The Groves Musical dictionary in its lastest edition proposes a very expertly written synthesis on the topic (Matanya Ophée is the author). Access restricted to paying members.
• Though lyra guitars of the second generation are not harp guitars with their six single strings, encyclopedic Gregg Miner devotes a sub-section of his amazing site ( to the lyras. Very good photos available.

From now on, I will only deal with second period lyras. I would be really surprised to see somebody trying to build a first period lyra!

As far as Museums are concerned, a virtual visit is especially rewarding when you can have nice photos of outstanding lyras without too much fuss. I will first give a list of Museums where this is possible.

• The Paris Museum; click on “” then follow the track “Acces aux collections du musee /instruments et oeuvres d’art/ ” then do a search with “guitare-lyre”. You will see a list of sixteen instruments appear. A click on each of them will give access to photos and short description. At least two thirds of this set is outstanding.
• The Roma “Museo Nazionale delli Strumenti Musicali” with two outstanding lyras. One by Gennaro Fabricatore, the second by Charlotte from Angoulème (France).
• The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with a beautiful Pons fils “columns” lyra. Very first years of 19 th. century.
• The Museum of Fine Art in Boston (two lyras by Pons fils, one standard, one “columns” lyra). Same period.
• The National Music Museum in South Dakota (Vermillon) with a nice François Roudlhoff instrument.

Now I give a second list of outstanding collections which conserve lyras, but unfortunately do not easily show on the web photographs of their lyras.

• The Leipzig Universitat Music collection with twelve lyras of great interest ( List only.
• The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna .
• The Berlin Mim.
• The Germanisches Nazional Museum in Nürenberg. Huge general collection.
• The Deutsches Museum in München. Same appreciation as above.
• The Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
• The Antonio Monzino collection in Castelo Sforzesco, Milano. Fascinating collection, photos no longer accessible by the net I fear.
• The Museo Civico d’Arte de Modena.

A lot of Museums have in their “reserves” interesting lyra-guitars, often of great makers. Let us quote a simple list ; Cities of Basel, Milano (Theatro alla Scala), Budapest, Luzern (Richard Wagner Museum), Venezia (Museo Correr, oustanding lyra), Firenze (Museo Bardini), Manchester, Dublin, etc, etc.

Some specialized merchants (Krause in Germany, Sinier de Ridder, Renard, Petit, Charles in France, and some others certainly) sometimes present interesting examples to potential clients.

This review is of course incomplete. I noticed that the status of the content of web-sites is constantly evolving. Sometimes for the better... but sometimes not, specially when your interest is really focused on a given topic.

This is a new problem for information “chasers”, but quite predictable if you consider the nature of the medium.

I end this short addendum with a positive point for interested collectors. Due to their strange shape, many nice lyras have been recently on the market at really reasonable prices. Of course it is not true for exceptionnal instruments. A glittering Mareschal lyra sold last year in Vichy (France) for 26,400 Euros. I will not be bidding!

I recently found with pleasure two German recent makers, GAL member Wilfried Ulrich & Christoph Michael Pech. So a (very small) club is beginning to form.

Top of Page