Alan Stivell (FRA) is a multi-instrumentalist and composer from Brittany, France. He has had a very long career that started in the late 1960’s and continues to this day. Stivell’s main instrument is the Celtic harp for which he is known, even he is fluent in various instruments as well, pipes included.
When he brought the harp into the hippie era folk music scene and combined it with not only wit other acoustic but also electric instruments, he more or less resurrected the harp from oblivion. His third album, The Renaissance of the Celtic Harp, from 1971, is a groundbreaking work that found a new context for the ancient instrument and helped revive interest in the Celtic past and culture in the younger generation. It can be argued, although not conclusively, that without Stivell’s pioneering work, the current Celtic folk scene simply would not exist, at least not in such diverse and inventive forms. That Stivell uses the Breton language in his songs was also a significant signal to other old languages in the historically Celtic regions of Europe.
Stivell’s recorded career is far from streamlined. By the 1975 Dublin live album, he employed a rock band backing him (the album begins with very Deep Purple-like Hammond and bass tones) and by the early 1980’s he was doing synths much the way Mike Oldfield, an obvious kindred spirit, had done. Even as he continued to take up themes from Celtic and Breton myths (Arthut, Brian Boru etc), his music evolved into what soon became known as world music.
Alan Stivell on the Web: