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John Marson papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSS 7773

Scope and Contents

Include correspondence, a history of the harp, music programs, personal papers, and various media concerning the harpist John Marson. The collection spans the dates 1953-2004.


  • 1953-2004


Conditions Governing Access

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the John Marson papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Conditions Governing Use

Open to public research.

Biographical History

John Marson (1932-2007) was a prominent British harpist who was the co-founder of the UK Harp Association. His marriage to the musician Sue Farrow ended in divorce. He had no children.

Although he died at seventy-four, he was able to compose music for the harp, for many combinations of chamber music, and two works for string quartet. He was born in Derby, England and took piano lessons at a young age but soon discovered the harp. He found a local teacher and had his first harp lesson when he was seventeen. A few years later he was accepted into the Royal College of Music in London. There he studied with Marie Goossens, which he later recalled was the turning point in his career as a harpist. He auditioned for the London Symphony Orchestra and became principal harp. After two years, John Marson resigned the orchestra because of the conductor Antal Dorati. He began to freelance and for the next thirty years he was performing with everyone. He performed with noted artists such as Stravinsky, Sinatra, Boulez, the Beatles, Copland, Chaplin, Malcolm Arnold, and Julie Andrews. He also performed with noted ensembles such as the English Chamber Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Derek New Sextet, and the Laurie Johnson Big Band.

In 1964 he was co-founder of the UK Harp Association and edited their magazine for many years. In 1982, he rejoined a symphony orchestra, and became principal harp of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He was the second principal harp in the history of the orchestra.

Two years before his death, John Marson wrote Book of the Harp (2005), a charming ragbag of little known facts, serious scholarship, pleasant anecdotes, and witty, perceptive observation. He also wrote, early in his career, The Complete Guide to Harp Glissandi, which was a study analyzing all 2,187 possible pedal settings.


30 boxes (15 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



The original order of the collection has been retained.

A detailed inventory can be found in the Music & Dance Library.

Custodial History

Donated by John Marson in 2007.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; John Marson; 2007.


Prominent Harpists (Section IV International Harp Collection Development Policy January 2011).

Processing Information

Processed; Sara Ott; 2011.

  • Scores and Recordings transferred to Internation Harp General Collection in the MRA, general collection of the library, or the Music Special Collections Vault on Level 4.
Register of John Marson papers
Sara Ott
2011 March 18
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States