Carlos Salzedo was born in Arcachon, France, in 1885. He studied both piano and harp at the Paris Conservatoire and received a Premiere Prix for both instruments on the same day. In 1909 Salzedo moved to New York where he obtained a position at the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. In America Salzedo became aquainted with many musicians, and in the early twenties he was already a popular harp teacher. His legacy as a teacher is tremendous and his ideas on hand position and tone production still distinguish the American harp school.
Shortly after his arrival in America Salzedo wrote his manual on harp technique and notation: Modern Study of the Harp, published in 1921. This book is the first to list modern effects for the harp, many of which were Salzedo's own inventions. The book also discusses the "intrinsic nature" of the harp and its resonance.
Thus, Carlos Salzedo became one of the modern harp's first advocates. Eager to demonstrate the instrument's recent structural improvements and slightly frustrated by his fellow musicians' contempt of the harp, he set about promoting the harp in various ways. Probably Salzedo's skillful playing was the best promotion the harp could get. Carlos Salzedo was a true virtuoso of the harp and he performed widely in the U.S., with orchestras, in chamber music settings and in solo recitals.
Furthermore, Carlos Salzedo was active in the promotion of contemporary music in America. The same year as his Modern Study of the Harp was published, in 1921, he founded the International Composers Guild together with Edgar Varèse. The Guild's task was to promote new compositions by composers from both Europe and America. Salzedo without a doubt promoted the harp among his friends at the Guild. Varèse's Ameriques (completed in 1921), for example, boasts an extensive harp part that displays various techniques from Salzedo's book. Salzedo's position at the forefront of the music of his time gave promotion of the harp even greater momentum.