I just rediscovered one of my long-lost pieces of talkover music - the Concerto for Jews Harp, by the Austrian composer Johann Georg Albrechstberger. From 1765 to 1771, Albrechstberger composed several concertos for Orchestra, Mandora (a lute-like instrument) and the Guimbarde, or what we now call the Jew's Harp. Albrechtsberger was initially inspired to compose these works by Austria's "music king," Joseph II who wrote enthusiastically about a Jew's Harp performance he heard in a monastery. Following these works, Albrechstberger went on to tutor a student named Ludwig van Beethoven in composition and counterpoint, and the Jew's Harp enjoyed a heyday in the courts of Europe at the start of the 19th century, with dozens of works written for the "Maultrommel," as it was known in Germany, the Crembalum (Latin), the Guimbarde (French) or the Italian "Aura."
Concerto for Jew's Harp, Mandora and Orchestra in E Major
Concerto for Jew's Harp, Mandora and Orchestra in F Major
For a completely different take on the Jew's Harp, check out Harvey Matusow's Jew's Harp Band.