Timeless Treasures from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress makes a huge collection of vintage music available through a free online music player.


With the introduction of the National Jukebox, the Library of Congress is helping turn your modern PC into a Victrola. This breathtaking new online music player, located on the Library of Congress’ website, featured more than 10,000 tracks at its launch May 11, 2011.

The collection is available free of charge, thanks to a gratis license from Sony. Recordings available from Okeh, Columbia, and others will soon join these historical recordings, made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925. At its launch, the player included recordings of violin legends like Fritz Kreisler, Maud Powell, and Effrem Zimbalist, among many others.

In a photo of a Victor-label recording session, filled with historical curiosities, like a cellist in a highchair, you can spot at least three Stroh violins, if you look closely. The Stroh’s large metal horn mechanically amplifies the tone of the instrument’s resonator, which makes them much louder than a traditional wooden violin. These instruments were popular in the pre-electric recording era because the musician could aim the horn at the recording cone for more presence. The second, smaller horn, is for the violinist.

*This article appeared in Strings August 2011
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