History of Modern Lyre

The oldest find of a lyre comes from the city of Ur in Mesopotamia and is dated to about 2600 B.C.

Most likely, they had been around for a while before. Thus, the lyre has a 5000-year-old history!


In all ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean there were lyres in different forms: among the Hebrews, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

For the ancient Greeks, the lyre played a central role in culture and education. The story of Orpheus describes the magical power of the quiet sound of lyre: he even soothes the wild animals with his instrument.

The Romans adopted the instrument from the Greeks. After the fall of the Roman Empire (476 n.Ch)," the Romans largely disappeared from Europe and with them the lyre.

In the Renaissance, with the interest in ancient cultures, the knowledge of the ancient lyre reappeared. But only as a narrative. The stylized lyre even became a symbol of music at this time, without anyone having seen the instrument in real life at that time.

In 1926 Edmund Pracht got the idea to build a kind of pure and basic instrument in Dornach (Switzerland). When his friend Lothar Gärtner implemented the idea, the Modern Lyre was born. Directly applied in the curative education Sonnenhaus in Arlesheim, the lyre immediately showed its healing effect on children and adults.

From that time on Gärtner built many more instruments in different pitches and forms

Until the sixties, the lyre was a kind of insider tip among curative educators and music therapists and at the same time almost unseen and unheard in public.

This changed with the work of  Dr. Julius Knierim, who starting from the 50's  deepened the lyre playing technique, expanded the areas of application, inaugurated a training for the Art of Lyre Playing and promoted its spreading.

The initial models of Gärtner were complemented by many other instrument makers in a wide variety of shapes. Thus, the lyre finally traveled all over the world.

When in 2001 Yumi Kimura sings the closing song "Always with me" in the famous Mizazaki film "Spirited Away"  and accompanies it with a soprano lyre, the lyre is heard for the first time by an audience of millions.

Today, the chromatic Modern Lyre is particularly appreciated by laymen and musicians alike because of its healing sound.


In its originality, it is able to open people's ears and hearts.