Benefactor Buys $7 Million Guarneri Violin for Australian Chamber Orchestra

Classic Arts News   Benefactor Buys $7 Million Guarneri Violin for Australian Chamber Orchestra
 
An anonymous patron in Australia has purchased a rare 1743 violin by Giuseppe Guarneri del Ges‹ for long-term loan to the Australian Chamber Orchestra. The instrument — called the "Carrodus" after a 19th-century English musician who once owned it — will be played by Richard Tognetti, the ensemble's concertmaster and artistic director.

The violin, which has not been heard in concert for about 50 years, was sold by American software mogul and instrument collector David Fulton, co-founder of Fox Software (now part of Microsoft). The purchase price was $7 million (US).

"This is one of the four or five of the finest violins in existence," Tognetti told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) yesterday. "For most violinists, you're in awe of just getting close to an instrument like this, let alone having the incredible honor of it being my voice box."

The unnamed benefactor offered Tognetti a choice between the Carrodus and a 1733 Stradivarius. He chose the Carrodus Guarneri. "It hasn't got the elegance and finesse that are the hallmarks of Stradivarius," he told the ABC. "Rather, it's got this impetuousness about it — it's darker, it's richer, it's more like a human voice.

"There was a magical aura to this instrument and I'm still somewhat dizzy from the whole experience."

Tognetti had previously performed on a 1759 Guadagnini violin owned and lent by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The bank is allowing the ACO to continue using the instrument, which will now be played by principal second violinist Helena Rathbone.

The Carrodus returns to the concert stage next week in Beethoven's Violin Concerto, as Tognetti and the ACO begin their 2007 season with a national tour. The program, titled "Revolution," also features Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony (No. 3) and Mark-Anthony Turnage's Lullaby for Hans (as in Werner Henze). The itinerary includes Newcastle, NSW (Feb. 8), Canberra (Feb. 10), Melbourne (Feb. 11 and 12), Adelaide (Feb. 13), Sydney (Feb. 17, 18, 20 and 21) and Brisbane (Feb. 19).

The unknown donor, Tognetti told The Australian yesterday, is "the most generous person I will ever meet."


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