Harper, better known as “Stan”, was born in Brooklyn, New York,
September 21, 1921. During this time, the chromatic harmonica was “born”.
As a lover of music, Stan was attracted to the fine, new
instrument, which – no more restricted with a mere seven diatonic notes
- seemed to have a complete capacity. It was not enough for Stan to play
by ear, as did many others. He
took the full measure of this little instrument, studying it fully.
He learned musical notation, timing, harmony, composition and
counterpoint. He studied for
hours, daily, fascinated with the evolving capacity of this new-found
musical gem. Mr. Harper’s
first professional engagement came at the early age of 14.
His technique advanced quickly to include rapid chromatic runs.
In a relatively short time, therefore, his work, his arrangements,
became the benchmark, for the ensembles which included harmonica in their
repertoire. Mr. Harper also
did some solo work, duets, trios, and quartets.
His versatility was soon recognized in the United States by radio,
television, record companies, and theaters.
the 1930’s, Stan Harper had a harmonica group in Brooklyn, comprised of
the best harmonica players in the world.
As classical music was Mr. Harper’s first love, they performed
Beethoven’s “Fifth”, “Sheherazade”, and “The Sorcerer’s
Apprentice”—among other significant pieces.
But during those years, the
group was “in”. The
only way a musician did a solo act, was if he couldn’t read-or just
wasn’t good enough to play in a group.
For that reason, no single solo performer emerged with public
the years, Stan Harper performed with Eddie Shu (Shulman), Carl Reiner,
Howard Morris, Hal David, Werner Klemperer, Sam Wanamaker, and Leon
Kirshner. In 1991, he
presented a one-man show, demonstrating his skills using 5 to 6 different
sized harmonicas, at the Smithsonian Institute of Arts, in Washington,
Hering Harmonica Company of Brazil sought collaboration with Mr. Harper to
produce a 3.5 octave chromatic harmonica (14 holes) which surpassed the
3-octave instrument currently in use.
This particular instrument has been greatly appreciated in both
North and South America. The
name “Stan Harper” is engraved on the instrument, an honor that only a
few select harmonica musicians have achieved; namely, Larry Adler, Toots
Thielmans, and Willi Burger!
his career, Stan Harper lectured widely at Musical Association meetings
and at specialized centres. He resides presently in Allenhurst, New
Jersey, where he is a member of the Garden State Harmonica Club, SPAH
(Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica).
He is active with national conventions, and still enjoys playing the harmonica and writing arrangements. His participation at harmonica events is always a great honor for the organizing committees
the photo with Stan Harper)
Stan Harper at St.Louis SPAH HArmonica Festival 2008