Australian Chamber Orchestra Loaned "Ex-Dollfus" Strad

The 1732 violin, which is on loan from an anonymous benefactor, will be played by ACO Principal Violin Helena Rathbone

(Helena Rathbone with the "ex-Dollfus" Strad)


The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) has acquired a third Golden Age Stradivarius violin, in the form of the "ex-Dollfus" Strad of 1732. The instrument is on loan from an anonymous benefactor, and will be played by ACO Principal Violin Helena Rathbone.

Of the approximately 280 violins that Stradivarius crafted during his Golden Period, three are currently being played by members of the ACO. Rathbone's new instrument joins the 1726 "Belgiorno" Strad (currently played by ACO Principal Violin Satu Vänskä) and a 1728/29 instrument (currently played by ACO violinist Mark Ingwersen).

ACO Artistic Director Richard Tognetti currently plays on the 1743 "Carrodus" Guarneri del Gesu, and the orchestra believes it is likely that Tognetti's instrument and the ex-Dollfus violin may have crossed over in the 1950s. At that time, both violins were owned by students of the Austrian pedagogue Theodore Pashkus, and so they may have been played in the same class in Vienna.

"It is an unbelievably wonderful privilege to be the custodian of such a fine instrument," Rathbone said. "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," she continued. "Its tone is remarkably strong, yet beautifully sweet and richly warm. It is a dream come true and a journey that I hugely appreciate being given the opportunity to explore and experience."

"We are absolutely delighted for the ACO to be the custodian of a third precious Stradivarius violin," said Richard Evans, the ACO's Managing Director. "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."