Italian news sources have reported the death of harp builder Victor Salvi at age 95. Salvi began his career as a harpist in the U.S. navy. He went on to play for orchestras in Chicago and New York, performing under the baton of renowned conductors including Bruno Walter, George Szell, Pierre Monteux, and Toscanini. Following his family’s tradition of instrument making, in 1954 Salvi built his first harp, and in 1955 he returned to his family’s native Italy to found Salvi Harps, now located in Piasco, Italy. Victor Salvi was a well-known philanthropist in the harp community; as founder of the Victor Salvi Foundation, he frequently sponsored competitions, promoted careers of young harpists, and commissioned new works for the instrument. In 1987, Salvi acquired the Lyon & Healy company, but emphasized in a 2001 interview with Harp Column that his goal was to keep the two companies and their harp-making processes separate. Of his own harps, Salvi said, “They have a musicality. It’s a warmer sound—the harp really responds to the touch.”
In 2004, Victor Salvi was appointed an Honorary Member of the Royal College of Music in London; in 1996 he received the Award of Recognition for Service to the International Harp Community from the World Harp Congress; in 1999 he was named one of the Most Influential Harp Forces of the 20th Century by Harp Column.