Stradivarius Story HERO

ACO acquires third Golden Age Stradivarius violin

Hear the 1732 'ex-Dollfus' Stradivarius violin at the ACO's Bach concerts, touring nationally from 18 June.

The ACO has acquired its third extraordinary 'Golden Age' Stradivarius violin, the 1732 'ex-Dollfus' Stradivarius, on loan from an anonymous benefactor.

This spectacular nearly 300-year-old instrument will be played by ACO Principal Violin Helena Rathbone and joins the only other two Stradivarius instruments played within an Australian orchestra: the 1726 ‘Belgiorno’ Stradivarius violin, owned by ACO Chairman Guido Belgiorno-Nettis and played by ACO Principal Violin Satu Vänskä, and the 1728/29 Stradivarius violin, owned by the ACO Instrument Fund and currently played by ACO violinist Mark Ingwersen.
Helena describes the opportunity to be the custodian of the ‘ex-Dollfus’ Stradivarius as a dream come true: “It is an unbelievably wonderful privilege to be the custodian of such a fine instrument. I am so looking forward to getting to know the ‘ex-Dollfus’ more intimately as we play many concerts and tell many stories together through music.
“This violin stands out as having an incredibly even tone across all its registers as if there is no weak spot. Its tone is remarkably strong, yet beautifully sweet and richly warm. As a player, the ex-Dollfus feels utterly reliable as if it is there to help you bring out exactly which ever shade of tone colour you want. It is a dream come true and a journey that I hugely appreciate being given the opportunity to explore and experience.”
The ACO has one of the finest instrument collections of any orchestra in the world, with ten precious Golden Age string instruments played by its internationally renowned virtuoso musicians.
“We are absolutely delighted for the ACO to be the custodian of a third precious Stradivarius violin,” said ACO Managing Director Richard Evans. “The ACO has one of the finest instrument collections of any orchestra in the world and the 1732 ‘ex-Dollfus’ Stradivarius, with its stunning tonal qualities, will make an extraordinary contribution to the ACO’s distinctive sound.
“We are extremely grateful to the owner of this magnificent instrument for making it available to the ACO, where it will be heard by audiences in metropolitan and regional concert venues across Australia, and internationally.” 


There's a strong chance the ACO's newly-acquired 'ex-Dollfus' Stradivarius, played be Helena Rathbone, could have 'met' the 1743 ‘Carrodus’ Del Gesu violin that Richard Tognetti plays, back in the 1950s. In 1952, the 'ex-Dollfus' was acquired by Gilopez Kabayao, a violinist from The Philippines, who studied in Vienna with the then well-known Austrian pedagogue, Theodore Pashkus. Pashkus also taught a well-known Austrian violinist, Ossy Renardy, who owned the 1743 ‘Carrodus’ Del Gesu.

Antonio Stradivari is widely acknowledged as the greatest and most influential violin maker of all time. He lived in Northern Italy during what is now referred to as the ‘Golden Age’ period of violin making and his instruments are highly prized for their unique blend of tonal excellence, design, beauty to the eye, and accuracy of workmanship. 
While he produced over one thousand string instruments in his lifetime, only 650 of Stradivari’s precious instruments survive.
The 1732 ‘ex-Dollfus’ Stradivarius can be heard when Helena Rathbone performs JS Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins alongside Richard Tognetti in the ACO’s Bach concerts, touring nationally from 18–29 June. Click here to book tickets.