Antonio Stradivari is generally considered the most significant luthier, a craftsman of stringed instruments such as violins and cellos, in history. It is his strings that launched the Library’s instrument collections. In 1935, Library benefactress Gertrude Clarke Whittall donated five Strads with the intention of having them played in free public concerts, not merely displayed behind a case. To this day, they are brought out for the annual Stradivari Anniversary concert, which recognizes his death on Dec. 18, 1737.
Since then, other musical treasures have been acquired, including violins made by Amati, a flute that once belonged to King Frederick II of Prussia and Thai folk instruments donated to the Library by King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.
As part of the Library’s Performing Arts Encyclopedia, a featured presentation highlights the Library’s instrument collections, offering background into each individual piece, with images and video-recordings of performances on the priceless treasures.