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JORJ COCHEVELOU AND ALAN STIVELL - ORIGIN OF THE TERM "CELTIC HARP" - by Daniel Garcia de la Cuesta

This review was written by Daniel Garcia de la Cuesta and posted under his kind permission.

Thanks to the easiness that provides the Internet to exchange information and to contact with people that perhaps otherwise would not have been possible, I had the fortune to coincide in the " maison de la harpe" forum with the musician and breton harpist Alan Stivell, and began he a conversation in which he facilitated me various data on the origin of the term Celtic. 

I thank a lot this information and subsequently I expose the data offered, so much like correction of the text that I wrote in the book Harpa y la so presencia n' Asturies, as for the spread of this interesting question that deserves a space to continue recognizing the relevance of Jorj Cochevelou, Alan's father , in the resurgence of the employement of the Celtic harp, and of course, of his son, known by the artistic name of Alan Stivell. In Breton language, "Stivell" means "fountain".
Alan has a forum in his official page where can be seen part of his work of investigation on the presence of the harp in Brittany in the antiquity.
In the text of my book, on page 80, to date the apparition of the term Celtic harp in the Breton cultural world, where is utilized since the decade of 1940, above all thanks to the push of Jorj Cochevelou, by a confusion in the reading of the documentation consulted, the number 1 of the Journal of the Harpe, of January of 1988, I misunderstood the presence of Jorj Cochevelou in an exposition in Bruxelles in 1948, where the correct character was of the Maison Martin-luthier, of Paris, that utilized the proposed nomenclature of Celtic harp for not to figure in the catalogue along with Irish harps, since was a French house.

Alan reported me of this detail, that I rectified, and provided me the data of how developed the question of the Celtic terminology.

"In what approximate date we can document the apparition of the term  Celtic Harp?"

According to Stivell, the name "harpe celtique" was employed for the first time by a Welshman, Thomas ap Tomas, in a history of the harp he published in 1859 in New York. In the 20th Century, this name was used occasionally for the bardic harp of Scotland. Before 1940, the instrument-maker Martin, had imported Morley harps, sold to the harpist Lili Laskine, and known as Irish harp, also employed by Denise Mégevand, at least at the beginning. Denise, was a teacher of Alan.
Later, the proposal of Jorj and Alan was the most accepted one. Its objective was not to play or to play again an instrument. They thought about the instrument of a Celtic Renaissance. For their first prototype, in 1953, Jorj used it, doubting about the term "Breizh harpe", but Alan inclined the scale toward "Celtic harp". In 1962 is published the "Méthode élémentaire of harpe celtique", of the teacher Denise Mégevand. 

In the year 1967 Stivell works with the record company Philips and due to it he throwed the expansion of his idea of a Celtic renaissance. His international career begins that same year, but above all is from 1973 when he is seen with the harp on TV broadcasts and in large folk or rock festivals. Before the death of the dictator Franco, he participated in various concerts of support to the prisoners by the franco's regime. After its death, in 1975, he performed in the península on various places, investing a lot of time and money in the snow ball effect of the expansion of the use of the Celtic harp, in which he keeps on working at the present. In the following link you may find out part of his works: www.alan-stivell.com/

I thank again to Alan Stivell the well-proportioned information, which I believe is handled by very few people, and that is necessary to diffuse in order to know the history of the renaissance of this instrument and to gain recognition for the people that made it possible.

If someone is interested in the book Harpa y la so presence n' Asturies, please contact with Daniel at: dagarcues@yahoo.es
(Pic of Daniel Garcia de la Cuesta playing at Merlin's Tomb, Broceliande, Brittany)
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