News / USA

Rare Violins Play Starring Role in Concert

Stradivari honored at Library of Congress

In the 1930s, Gertrude Clarke Whittall donated five stringed instruments, made by famed Cremonese master craftsman Antonio Stradivari, to the Library of Congress.
In the 1930s, Gertrude Clarke Whittall donated five stringed instruments, made by famed Cremonese master craftsman Antonio Stradivari, to the Library of Congress.

Multimedia

Audio

Stradivarius instruments, especially Stradivarius violins, are known the world over for their exquisite beauty, unparalleled craftsmanship and extraordinary sound.

Six of the rare instruments are owned by the Library of Congress. Four of them were the star attractions at a recent concert honoring their creator, Antonio Stradivari.

Every December, the Library of Congress presents a special concert featuring rare stringed instruments from its famed musical collection. The concert marks the anniversary of Stradivari's death.

A print of master violin maker Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) examining an instrument.
A print of master violin maker Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) examining an instrument.

Borromeo String Quartet

This year's concert was performed by the Borromeo String Quartet, which played Franz Schubert’s Quartet no. 14 in D minor, “Death and the Maiden,” with four Stradivarius instruments; two violins, a viola and a cello.

Schubert’s Quartet was one of three compositions played with instruments from the library’s unique music collection, which includes six Stradivarius instruments.

Ann McLean, senior concert producer at the Library of Congress, chose Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" because she wanted "something beautiful to show off the rich, rare sound of the instruments."

“And ‘Death and the Maiden,’" she says, "is just universally beloved.”

This year’s event also included Ludwig van Beethoven's Sonata no. 7 in C minor, which was performed on another precious stringed instrument in the library’s collection, a Giuseppe Guarneri violin. It was played by the Borromeo Quartet’s first violinist Nicholas Kitchen, and pianist Seymour Lipkin.

Instrument collection

The Library of Congress instrument collection began in 1935 when five Stradivarius instruments were donated by Gertrude Clarke Whittall.

Since then, the library's music division has acquired five additional rare stringed instruments, including a sixth Stradivarius, through donations. Those classic instruments are perfectly suited to modern compositions as well.

The Borromeo String Quartet rehearses before performing a Library of Congress concert honoring Antonio Stradivari.
The Borromeo String Quartet rehearses before performing a Library of Congress concert honoring Antonio Stradivari.

The memorial concert also featured Quartet no. 4 by composer, conductor and jazz historian, Gunther Schuller. The renowned composer says he doesn't think about what the Stradivarius instruments do for him or his composition as much as what it means to the performers.

"Not everyone can hear the distinction between a Stradivari and another instrument, maybe a lesser-made violin, because those are very subtle differences. But, of course, the musicians really can feel that instantly.”

Schuller often marvels at the craftsmanship that went into the creation of the iconic instruments.

“There is this mystery that we still don’t quite know how Stradivarius and Guarneri and some of the other great violin makers did that. We’ve been researching that for, well, several hundred years now. And it’s all here in this wonderful Library of Congress.”

The library plans to continue its yearly tradition of honoring both Stradivari and its generous benefactor, Clarke Whittall, with these special, commemorative concerts.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid