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Music the Way Ben Franklin Liked It

Glass harmonica performance in Newton tonight


Older than the country, Franklin’s glass harmonica. Photo by Flickr contributor Leonid Khachaturov

Pedestrians in Harvard Square may have glimpsed Vera Meyer, or heard her lovely music, as her fingers coax notes from an instrument invented by none other than Benjamin Franklin—a glass harmonica. Dressed in colonial garb, Meyer will perform tonight at the Newton Free Library.

Franklin’s 1761 instrument is a tubular glass cone on a spindle. It makes music the way rubbing wet fingers on a wineglass rim does. Both Mozart and Beethoven composed works for the harmonica. Meyer’s instrument was made by the late glassblower Gerhard Finkenbeiner, whose glass harmonicas are still manufactured in Waltham. Mass. Meyer has performed in Israel, Germany, and Japan.

The performance begins at 7 p.m. tonight, June 28, at the Newton Free Library, 330 Homer St., Newton Centre; phone: 617-796-1360. Admission is free. To get there by public transportation, take the T’s Green Line D trolley to the Newton Highlands Station. The library is approximately a mile from there.

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

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