Lizzo Plays a 200-Year-Old Crystal Flute Owned by President Madison

The Library of Congress offered up the world's largest collection of flutes to Lizzo for her DC concert.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Lizzo crystal flute

Lizzo visiting the Library of Congress.

Library of Congress

Footage of Lizzo playing a 200-year-old crystal flute owned by President James Madison emerged this week. So how did she get to use the priceless instrument?

The Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, last week found out Lizzo would be performing in Washington, DC. The library has the world's largest flute collection, and Hayden tweeted to Lizzo that she should visit and see them all.


Lizzo, a classically trained flautist, practiced with several flutes during her visit to the Library of Congress, but it was the crystal flute she borrowed for her concert. The flute was made for President Madison by Claude Laurent, a French craftsman, and rescued from the White House by first lady Dolley Madison in 1814 when the British invaded the US capital.

In response to concerns that such an priceless artifact should not be played, the Library of Congress reassured the public that proper measures had been taken.

"For those concerned about the flute: Music Division curators made sure it could be played without damage," the Library of Congress tweeted. "This sort of thing is not all that unusual, in fact. Some of the Library's priceless instruments were donated with the stipulation that they remain functional & be played."