MFA harp

Lecture/demonstrations at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“Nancy Hurrell attracted a record attendance from all parts of the country.”

- Lecture at Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, Ireland

Nancy Hurrell 

is interested in harps from the past. One of America’s leading harp historians, Nancy promotes her passion through talks, conference papers, journal articles, and recordings. Projects include the first recording of a John Egan Irish harp from the 1800s, arranging early harp repertoire in her Historical Harp Collections, and contributing articles to the American Harp Journal, History Ireland magazine, and the Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments.


As a harp consultant at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Nancy gives gallery talks and records soundfiles on harps in the collection. She was guest curator for a major harp exhibition, The Harp - A Global Story of Man, Music and Medicine at the Museum of Making Music in California (2013) and also for Dear Harp of My Country: The Harp Traditions of Ireland and Scotland at Burns Library, Boston College (2010).


An expert on the harps of Dublin maker John Egan (fl c1803-1839), Nancy is committed to telling this little known story in her forthcoming book. A self-taught craftsman, Egan rose to the lofty position of Harp Maker to George IV and the Royal Family. Egan’s ingenious harp models influenced the survival of the Irish harping tradition, and his ‘Portable Irish Harp’ was the inspiration for today’s Celtic harp.






The Golden Age of Spanish Harp, American Harp Journal, Summer 2010

The Royal Portable Harp by John Egan, Journal of the Historical Harp Society, Spring 2003

The Horniman Museum Harps, Bulletin of the Historical Harp Society, April 2006

Mythical Beasts to Floral Bouquets: Historical Harps in Scotland's Museums, The Folk Harp Journal, Summer 2008



French single-action pedal harp by Holtzman, c.1785 in MFA, Boston
Listen to mp3: Romance, from Sonata by Krumpholtz

Irish Royal Portable Harp by John Egan, c.1820 in MFA, Boston
Listen to mp3: My Lodging (Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms)

Website by Simon Chadwick