Lizzo plays a 200-year-old crystal flute in Washington D.C.

Olivia Barone

Anchor Staff Writer

Photo via Shawn Miller, Library of Congress

Lizzo, the iconic pop star and rapper, had a monumental moment in her career on Tuesday when she was invited to the Library of Congress to tour their vast collection of historical music. Among this collection, is the crystal flute designed especially for President James Madison, of which Lizzo played during her concert at the Capital One Arena Tuesday night.


A part of the Library of Congress’ Dayton C. Miller flute collection, Madison’s crystal flute is not only a unique relic, but a survivor. Manufactured and gifted to Madison in 1813 by master craftsman Claude Laurent, the instrument was created as a collection of 18 glass flutes, all designed and made by Laurent himself in Paris. Decidedly, Laurent gifted one of these incredible instruments to Madison in light of his second inauguration, even taking the liberty to engrave Madison’s name into the crystalline surface of the flute. Admired for its beauty, the flute quickly became a treasured piece within the white house, and one of the few artifacts that survived the fire of 1814.


It was first lady Dolley Madison who managed to save the instrument when the White House burned in August, 1814. In a few fleeting moments, she was able to rescue the flute, countless documents and most notably, the famous portrait of George Washington that is still on display in The Executive Mansion. The flute has since resided within the Library of Congress, alongside 17 other unique flutes created by Laurent, until this past week when the flute made its debut to the world.


Upon her arrival in Washington D.C. for her concert at the Capital One Arena, pop star Lizzo was invited by the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, to experience the library’s extensive collection firsthand. Being a talented musician and classically trained flutist, she was excited to learn of the crystal flute’s history and even more thrilled to be able to play it. Lizzo has played the flute since she was 10 years old, and has more than proven herself to be a savant.


Her history of playing this instrument, being in the Spirit of Houston marching band in college, and in 2020, alongside the Philharmonic Orchestra, made her an ideal choice to share this instrument’s sound to the public. She played this flute with style too.


“It’s like playing out of a wine glass, so be patient,” Lizzo exclaimed to her audience within the Capital One Arena as she lifted the glass flute.


To no one’s surprise, she played it beautifully, while of course incorporating her own flare. Charmed by Lizzo and the flute, her crowd not only loved the performance, but also learned a little history about this instrument.


Lizzo’s service to history in bringing this beautiful instrument back to life was integral to her career, and to her fans. She introduced the newest generation to the craftsmanship of Laurent and the heroics of Dolley Madison, giving all of us a glimpse into the art of our past. Her massive audience has certainly supported this honor Lizzo received as she continues to make history.


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