Derek Bell

Biography

Born: 1935; Belfast, Ireland   Died: October 17, 2002; Phoenix, AZ  
Although best known as the harpist with the Chieftains, Derek Bell's career includes a raft of musical achievements and credits extending into the worlds of both classical and folk music -- and he didn't begin playing the harp until he was in his 30s. A major figure in music education as well as music performance, Bell is perhaps the leading Irish harpist in the world, and has done more to elevate the instrument to a level of international Read more respectability before a wider audience than any other musician today. Bell took up the harp in his early 30s, and joined the Chieftains in 1972; his presence on harp, oboe, and dulcimer greatly extended the range of the group, which had acquired a large following in England and, during the mid-'70s, became an international phenomenon. His interest in Irish folk music has led to his writing numerous arrangements of traditional Irish folksongs for different size ensembles. He has also composed many classical works, and arranged others derived from various ethnic sources, including Hungarian and Peruvian dances; the Tocatta Burlesca (a recording of which, with Bell playing eight instruments, has been made), two symphonies, and suite entitled The Violet Flame, many works for solo harp and orchestra. Bell's work with the Irish harp, in repertory ranging across many centuries, has helped elevate it from near-extinction to one of the most beloved of folk instruments. Read less

There are 4 Derek Bell recordings available.

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