“I have Dr. Boris Perott’s Russian Harp Guitar.”
That was the curious, intriguing subject line of an out-of-the-blue email I received over two years ago, and my introduction to what eventually became a full article on the site, a special combined Harp Guitar of the Month and Harp Guitar Player of the Month!
When I first got the email, it took me a moment to place Perott (the “Dr.” threw me). At the time, I knew Boris Perott as a fairly obscure guitarist of whom I had just one photo of, holding his 10-string wappen (shield)-shaped harp guitar (at right). I had also become more acquainted with him from his part in the story I did on Julian Bream and the Mystery Maccaferri Harp Guitar (a great story, by the way).
Could the person be writing me about that the aforementioned wappen HG?
Yes! Turns out that towards the end of his life, Perott sold his beloved harp guitar to one of his prize students, George Gorelik – and it was Gorelik’s son, Stephen, who was now researching the instrument, finally stumbling onto Harpguitars.net.
I was curious enough about the unlabelled instrument’s history that I waited to see what information Stephen might be able to dig up about it. Very quickly (via our friend Oleg Timofeyev), the biggest help came from scholar Jan de Kloe, who by a complete coincidence, was in the midst of writing an entire book on Perott. At Jan’s request, I agreed to keep quiet about it until the book came out, which it finally did (available here).
As promised, there were a few other bits of information about the instrument in the book, and plenty about Perott. (I would certainly recommend the book to dedicated classical guitar/guitarist researchers, though not necessarily to lay-readers…and for those with harp guitar-specific interests, it’s all but silent on the topic of floating strings)
It took me some time to digest all the information (much in Perott’s own words), and even longer to figure out how to present it (even to his biographers, Perott seems to remain a vain curmudgeon and relatively unimportant figure of the guitar). The snapshot I thus give in the article is from my own very limited perspective, and meant only as backdrop to the subject of the harp guitar.
So here – from a random email – to a planned quick (then-postponed) blog – to a full article – is: The Harp Guitar of Boris Perott