John Pratt Harp Company

 

 

Louise Pratt Musical Biography

 

 

 

Louise Pratt was born Ida Louise Frandsen on May 11, 1928 in Clarion, Utah, a small farming community.  Her music education began at an early age on the family piano.  She still owns the same piano today that she learned to play on as a young girl.  At the age of 8, she started to study violin. At 10 years old, she began studying violin under John Hilgendorff in Provo Utah, making the six-hour round trip every other week.  She became an accomplished violinist, and eventually performed regularly with the Utah Symphony from 1949 to 1952.

Louise married Samuel O. Pratt on January 30, 1947, and they first lived in Provo, Utah.  Shortly thereafter in the Spring of 1947, she purchased her first pedal harp, a Lyon and Healy Style 12. 

 

 

Almost immediately, the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra came to Provo, Utah for a concert, where harpist Valerie Venetti gave her a first harp lesson in the French/Salzedo method. 

Later that Summer, Allen Jensen came to Provo to establish the Intermountain Symphony, where Louise played violin and harp.  Samuel Pratt played flute with the Intermountain Symphony also.  That summer, in 1947, the Los Angeles Symphony came in concert to Provo, Utah, where Stan Chaloupka gave Louise key instruction, teaching her key differences in harp playing techniques, as Stan was proficient in the German method.

Louise and Sam moved to Salt Lake City in the Fall of 1948, where Louise began to play violin with the Utah Symphony.  During the winter of 1948-1949, Louise acquired a Lyon and Healy Style 21 pedal harp. 

During that winter, Louise also started to study with Rebecca Wagner in Salt Lake City who was at the time the harpist for the Utah Symphony.  Louise began to play second harp for the Utah Symphony in 1949.

In the Summer of 1949, Louise and Sam went to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where Sam continued his studies in the flute.  Louise also went to Camden, Maine for the summer harp colony which was overseen by Salzedo, where Louise was taught by one of his students.  They both returned to their Utah Symphony playing jobs in the Fall of 1949, where Louise continued to play harp and violin.

In the Fall of 1950, Louise became first harpist with the Utah Symphony, in addition to playing violin.  She remained first harpist for two years.  Meanwhile, Louise purchased a Lyon and Healy style 23 in 1951.

During this time Louise frequently performed chamber music at the University of Utah, including the Ravel Introduction and Allegro in the Spring of 1950, having mastered it in three years from having started to learn the harp—an unusual accomplishment.  This performance of the Ravel Introduction and Allegro secured her position as first harpist with the Utah Symphony in the Fall of 1950.  Utah Symphony Conductor Maurice Abravanel was indelibly impressed with her harp playing ability from that time forth.  Louise and Sam also performed the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto in the Utah Symphony 1951-1952 season in one of their radio broadcasts.

While still living in Salt Lake City during the symphony off-seasons, Louise and Sam toured considerably, playing various concerts.

Louise and her husband moved to New York City in the Summer of 1952, almost on a whim, which is where her husband Samuel became acquainted with the Lyon and Healy Harp Company, who hired him and sent him to Los Angeles to manage the Lyon and Healy harp salon there.  While living in New York, Louise went on tour with Leon Brzin, playing the Ravel Introduction and Allegro.

While in Los Angeles, Louise had the idea which she energetically communicated to her husband of the necessity of a viable, smaller, and less expensive harp that would permit more and younger potential harpists to learn to play.  Such a smaller harp would be also easier to transport.  There were no “lever harps” per se at the time in view of what is considered to be a “lever harp” today.  There were some diminutive, small harps like the Clark Irish Harp, but which were not really as suitable to train young harpists who would eventually transition to play the concert harp.  With this idea as motivation, her husband Samuel designed the original Lyon and Healy “Troubadour” harp, and thus with her insight into future harp world needs, the “Lever Harp” was born, though it would not come to be called such for years later, as sharping lever technology advanced.  The introduction of the Lyon and Healy Troubadour harp, which eventually resulted in many more harpists taking up the instrument than what would otherwise have been, caused an explosion of growth in the harp world, and spawned many others to start manufacturing lever harps as well.

In the summer of 1958, Louise and Sam moved to Chicago, where Sam was asked to manage the Lyon and Healy harp factory there.  During this time in Chicago, Louise also had the idea which she put to her husband (and consequently also to Lyon and Healy), that harp tuning keys should be completed coated in rubber or some soft material, to prevent damage to the harp soundboard when they are occasionally dropped on the harp or especially the harp soundboard.  This now-ubiquitous innovation is also the result of Louise’s forward thinking.

In the summer of 1960, Louise and Sam moved back to New York, where Sam managed the New York Lyon and Healy harp salon.

Over many years of raising four children, Louise still kept up her musical ability, and performed frequently in various venues, and always taught many students on the violin, piano, and especially the harp.  She completed her college degree with a teaching certificate in 1970, and then went on to teach public school music and orchestra for 20 years, retiring in 1990.  She also served as the harp instructor and harp program coordinator at Brigham Young University for 28 years, from 1967 to 1995.  She has also served for many years as a church organist, choir director, and has arranged many compositions for performance by choir, harp, and other instruments.

About the time of Louise’s retirement from public school teaching, she acquired her first computer, and began to edit and publish her own musical arrangements, mostly for harp.  She had been making arrangement manuscripts by hand for years, as a part of her teaching (harp and public school), and at this time she began to compile this on a computer for publication.  She also developed harp method instructional music, and even composed many of her own pieces for publication.  Her music publication work is called “Music Publications.”  Louise’s music has been sold at harp conventions for years, and has become well known in the harp world, and has had a significant impact on harp learning and instruction.

As of this writing (2007), Louise is still teaching harp, violin, and piano, and also teaches general music and choir in a private school.  She will be happy to answer any questions about her music, or to make recommendations.

 

Louise Pratt:  (435) 835-8233

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Pratt Harp Company

360 West 400 South

Manti, Utah 84642

USA

 

(435) 835-3541     info@prattharps.com

 

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