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The Moravian Historical Society Invites You to: New Exhibition Opening: A Trio of America’s First Stringed Instruments

3 February 2023 @ 8:00 AM - 29 October 2023 @ 5:00 PM


Nazareth, PA—The Moravian Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a special exhibition, Heartstrings, John Antes: America’s First Luthier. The public is invited to attend the opening reception for the exhibition on Sunday, February 5, 2023 from 1 p.m–3 p.m.
Join us for a special exhibition of three American firsts—a violin (1759), cello (1763), and viola (1764)—all made by the Pennsylvania-born John Antes (1740-1811). Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the fascinating life of John Antes and discover how the trio of Antes instruments came to be reunited. The exhibition will explore how stringed instruments are made and the legacy of luthiery in the Lehigh Valley from Antes to C.F. Martin. Visitors can also hear recordings of chamber music composed by John Antes while viewing the trio.
As a luthier, John Antes made seven instruments, only two of which were thought to still exist—the Moravian Historical Society’s 1759 violin and the Lititz Historical Society’s 1764 viola. The Antes 1763 cello was recently discovered in an attic outside of Pittsburgh and bought at auction in 2018 by Thomas Riddle, a descendent of Antes. Now reunited for this special exhibition, the trio represents the oldest surviving American violin family instruments.
This exhibition is supported, in part, by the Riddle Family, descendants of the Antes Family; the Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation; and the County of Northampton Hotel Tax Grant Program.
The museum is open daily from 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. except major holidays. The exhibition will be on view from February 3 through October 29, 2023.
Founded in 1857, the Moravian Historical Society (MHS) preserves, interprets, and celebrates the rich culture of the Moravians. Located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, MHS maintains the 1740–1743 Whitefield House and the 1740 Gray Cottage, the oldest surviving Moravian structure in North America. Recognized widely for its significant collection, ​the museum is home to a permanent exhibition on Moravian history including historic keyboard and brass instruments.


3 February 2023 @ 8:00 AM
29 October 2023 @ 5:00 PM


Moravian Historical Society
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Moravian Historical Society
214 E Center Street
Nazareth, PA 18064 United States
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