This week on The Happy Page: A seasonal favorite from Tchaikovsky, played by William Zeitler on a glass armonica, accompanied by harp and clarinet.
The treadle-operated glass armonica, a mechanical version of the more commonly seen ‘glass harp’, was invented by Benjamin Franklin (hence the costume!) in 1761, although the idea of creating musical tones by running a wet finger around the rim of a water-filled glass goblet or bowl dates back at least as far as the Renaissance. In the early 19th century, rumor had it that the melancholy tones the instrument produced caused people who played it to sink into depression, go mad, or even die. The main reason the glass armonica stopped being popular around that time, however, is more likely because it was easily broken and not very loud. 😉
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