David Bromberg's Huge Collection of American Violins May Be Split Up and Sold After Library of Congress Acquisition Falls Through

David Bromberg’s Collection of American Violins on Display at the Violin Society of America (VSA) Convention in Washington DC in November 2017.

David Bromberg’s Collection of American Violins on Display at the Violin Society of America (VSA) Convention in Washington DC in November 2017.

Luthier and musician David Bromberg, who has compiled a collection of 263 historic American violins, fears that his collection may need to be split up and sold after a deal with the Library of Congress to acquire the collection fell through.

Bromberg began his career as a guitarist and singer songwriter and worked with artists such as Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and Pete Seeger. In 1980, Bromberg switched his focus to violin and enrolled in the Kenneth Warren School of Violinmaking in Chicago, which is now known as the Chicago School of Violinmaking. He later opened David Bromberg Fine Violins in Wilmington, Delaware.

Bromberg carefully acquired the instruments in his collection over a period of 50 years. The instruments in the collection were crafted in America between 1848 and 1950. His is the world’s largest and most important collection of American violins and contains violins made in 24 states and 104 cities by 246 violinmakers over a period of 102 years, and includes violins by such notable names as Carl Becker, George Germunder Jr., and SImone Sacconi.

In 2016, the Library of Congress announced its intent to purchase the Bromberg collection for $1,700,000 US and to set up a center for the study of the instruments. Bromberg had intended to use the acquisition to fund his retirement. But after three years of failing to secure a donor, the contract with the Library expired and the Library had a change of leadership who decided to refocus their development resources elsewhere.

Since then, Bromberg and his wife have diligently tried to find another home for the collection. However, they were not able to find a museum with the resources or interest to acquire such a large collection. As a result, unless a big donor steps up at the last minute, or the Brombergs forfeit their retirement fund and donate the collection themselves, Bromberg has announced that the collection will likely have to be split up and sold to individuals and museums.

StringBridge will continue to follow the developments with the David Bromberg Collection.

Phillip Kass and David Bromberg discuss a violin at the exhibit of American Violins on Display at the Violin Society of America (VSA) Convention in Washington DC in November 2017.

Phillip Kass and David Bromberg discuss a violin at the exhibit of American Violins on Display at the Violin Society of America (VSA) Convention in Washington DC in November 2017.

David Bromberg’s Collection of American Violins on Display at the Violin Society of America (VSA) Convention in Washington DC in November 2017.

David Bromberg’s Collection of American Violins on Display at the Violin Society of America (VSA) Convention in Washington DC in November 2017.