Whittall Gertrude Clarke

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Whittall Gertrude Clarke

Whittall, Gertrude Clarke, American patroness of music and literature; b. Bellevue, Nebr., Oct. 7, 1867; d. Washington, D.C., June 29, 1965. Her maiden name was Clarke; she married Matthew John Whittall on June 4, 1906. In 1935 she donated to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., a quartet of Stradivari instruments—2 violins (including the famous “Betts”), a viola, and a cello—together with 4 Tourte bows; she added another Stradivari violin (the “Ward”) and another Tourte bow in 1937. In 1936 she established an endowment fund in the Library of Congress to provide public concerts at which these instruments would be used, and in 1938 the Whittall Pavilion was built in the library to house them and to serve other purposes in the musical life of the library. In subsequent years, she continued to add to her gifts to the library on behalf of both music and literature; one series enabled the Whittall Foundation to acquire many valuable autograph MSS of composers from Bach to Schoenberg and, in particular, the finest single group of Brahms MSS gathered anywhere in the world.


W. Orcutt, The Stradivari Memorial at Washington (Washington, D.C., 1938); E. Waters, Autograph Musical Scores in the W. Foundation Collection (Washington, D.C., 1951).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Whittall Gertrude Clarke

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