Australian String Quartet acquire rare set of Guadagnini instruments

Charlotte Smith31st May 2012
The Australian String Quartet have been loaned a set of Guadagnini instruments (The Australian String Quartet have been loaned a set of Guadagnini instruments (photo: Jacqui Way Photography)

The Australian String Quartet has scored something of a coup in bringing together the world’s only known quartet of instruments by legendary Italian luthier Giovanni Guadagnini.

The acquisition was masterminded by Ngeringa Farm Arts Foundation director Ulrike Klein, who has thus far spent $4m (AUS) buying three of the four instruments for the quartet – a 1784 Turin violin, a 1748 Piacenza violin and a 1783 Turin viola. Klein hopes to raise a further $2m to buy the 1743 Piacenza cello, which is currently on loan to the ensemble from philanthropist Maria Myers. The instruments will then be loaned permanently to the quartet as a set.

‘Some people buy property, some people buy paintings. I invest in rare instruments,’ said Klein. 'These instruments will be there for generations to come. It is such a unique story and it connects us in Australia to the old world of fine instrument making. I am sure it will attract audiences to the concerts.'

The Australian String Quartet has undergone a number of personnel changes since its foundation in 1985 as quartet-in-residence at the Elder Conservatorium of Music at the University of Adelaide. The current members are violinists Kristian Winther and Anne Horton, viola player Stephen King and cellist Rachel Johnston.

The quartet will first perform all four instruments together on its Australian 'Legacy' tour in June with guest artist Brett Dean. Click here for details.

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