Australian String Quartet Acquires Set of Guadagnini Instruments
It’s a rare stroke of luck when a musician gets their hands on a priceless old instrument. The high demand and small supply of instruments made by well known masters has caused prices to skyrocket in recent years, making it extremely difficult for musicians to acquire one on their own. Fortunately, benefactors and foundations dedicated to classical music are able to provide extended use of these instruments as gifts or prizes. Organizations like the Nippon Music Foundation, for example, have provided artists such as Steven Isserlis and recent Queen Elisabeth Competition winner Andrey Baranov with Stradivarius instruments on loan for multiple years.
Considering how difficult it is to get your hands on even one of these fine instruments, it was incredibly impressive to hear how last week the Australian String Quartet officially assembled the world’s only known quartet of instruments made by Giovanni Guadagnini. The acquisition last week included three instruments: a 1784 Turin violin, a 1748 Piacenza violin and a 1783 Turin viola. Already in the quartet’s use is a 1743 Piacenza cello, which is on loan from the philanthropist Maria Myers.
The acquisition of this set of Guadagnini instruments was made possible Ulrike Klein, the director of the Ngeringa Farm Arts Foundation. For the three instruments purchased last week, Klein spent approximately $4 million; he hopes to raise another $2 million in order to purchase the cello as well. Then he will permanently loan the instruments to the Australian String Quartet as a set. Klein hopes that his investment will pay off for years to come:
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.
An opportunity such as this is a historic occurrence. It is part of Klein’s intention that this set of Guadagnini instruments will remain in Australian hands for perpetuity, creating a bright future for Australia’s talented musicians. It’s heartwarming to see such genuine acts of philanthropy done with dedication. These instruments were not chosen merely to assemble a quartet, but to tonally match the sound of the others in order to create a truly unique set of instruments. This binds the legacy of these instruments together as a set, and hopefully will bring great pleasure to the Australian String Quartet and audiences very soon!