"The author brought Melville A. Clark out of the shadows and into his rightful place as an innovator, a businessman/entrepreneur, a community leader, and [as] a fascinating combination of genuine musical talent and a restless and perpetually curious practical intellect."—Andrew Zaplatynsky, concertmaster of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra
"In Pulling Strings, Linda Kaiser brings to life this extraordinary man and his varied career as harpist, inventor, and President of the Clark Music Company."—Nancy Hurrell, Historical Harp Society of America
"Linda Kaiser’s masterful job of assembling a Clark biography is to be cheered. It’s about time."—Dick Case, Syracuse Post-Standard columnist
Kaiser explores the extraordinary career of Melville A. Clark (1883–1953), a musician, inventor, entrepreneur, community leader, and collector whose colorful story is largely unknown.
Beginning with an account of Clark’s musical family, Kaiser chronicles the founding in 1859 of the Clark Music Company, of which Melville Clark became president in 1919. Originally just a tinker’s shed, the business ultimately moved into a six-story building in the center of Syracuse, New York. The music company celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2010. Clark also combined his talents as a gifted musician and an astute entrepreneur to start the first Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.
Kaiser recounts the development of the Clark Irish Harp, the first portable harp manufactured in the United States that could easily play accidentals. There were other Clark inventions, such as the first nylon strings for instruments, a fruit picker, and balloons that the British used in 1918 to drop more than 1,250,000 pamphlets over Germany. Clark’s story unfolds in fascinating detail: a musical encounter with President Wilson, an opportunity to perform for President F. D. Roosevelt at the White House, a visit to Buckingham Palace to present Princess Elizabeth with a music box, and the journey of a Clark Irish Harp to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd.
Lavishly illustrated, Pulling Strings not only uncovers the life of a musical genius but also sheds light on a forgotten chapter in Syracuse history.
Linda Pembroke Kaiser is a musician who performs on the harp, piano, and guitar. She has published articles in the International Folk Harp Journal and has arranged and recorded an album of harp duets, Lullabies for Earth Children.
6 x 9, 208 pages, 8 color, 69 black and white illustrations