Photo of Mr. Lam, courtesy of The Family of Sau-Wing Lam

The exhibition is made possible by The Amati, Friends of the Department of Musical Instruments.

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Storied Strings: The Art of Violin Collecting

Program information

In conjunction with the exhibition The Sau-Wing Lam Collection of Rare Italian Stringed Instruments, on view December 18, 2012–June 30, 2013, Jayson Kerr Dobney discusses violin collecting.

Recorded April 21, 2013

The Sau-Wing Lam Collection of Rare Italian Stringed Instruments

December 18, 2012–June 30, 2013

The Sau-Wing Lam collection of violin-family instruments is one of the most important collections of bowed Italian stringed instruments ever assembled by a private individual. Sau-Wing Lam (1923–1988) was born in Shanghai, China, where he graduated with a degree in economics from the prestigious Saint John's University. In 1948 he moved to New York City and eventually became the president of the Dah Chong Hong Trading Corporation, Inc., an import-export business that founded some of the most successful automobile dealerships in the country.

An amateur violinist and violist, Lam bought his first important violin in the 1960s and assembled his impressive collection of violins and bows over the next twenty-five years. His holdings eventually included such significant instruments as the "Baltic" violin by Giuseppe Guarneri "del Gesù," the "Bavarian" and "Scotland University" violins by Antonio Stradivari, the "ex Collin" violin by Nicolò Amati, an extremely early viola by Andrea Amati, and Lam's favorite violin, an instrument by Giuseppe Guarneri, one of his earliest acquisitions.

Sau-Wing Lam enjoyed sharing his collection and regularly opened his home to scholars, dealers, and musicians. The family hosted impromptu chamber concerts and passionate discussions about music that would last well into the early morning hours. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of Mr. Lam's death, the collection is being exhibited here for the first time in the United States.

Image: Photo of Mr. Lam, courtesy of The Family of Sau-Wing Lam