Peter Weiss donates a rare 1729 Guarneri cello valued at $1.8 million to the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra has received the single most significant gift in its history with the donation of an exceptionally fine and rare cello. Peter Weiss AO, one of Australia’s most committed arts philanthropists and successful businessmen, is the proud donor of the instrument. The cello, made by Giuseppe Guarneri filius Andreæ in 1729, is valued at A$1,800,000.

Mr Weiss has long been a supporter of the arts, maintaining that his passion for music was born of his love for the cello. He purchased the Guarneri in 2007, which was subsequently made available on permanent loan to ACO’s Principal Cello, Timo-Veikko Valve. Now he has donated it to the Orchestra. Made in Cremona, Italy, in what is considered the ‘golden period’ of instrument making, the cello possesses a unique sound that many deem impossible to replicate on its modern counterpart.

Mr Weiss’ identity as the benefactor of this wonderful gift remained confidential until the ACO launched their Instrument Fund in 2011. The Fund was established in order to acquire fine instruments for Orchestra members to play and for the enjoyment of its listeners. In its launch year, Weiss pledged a generous donation of $1,000,000 to the ACO for the Fund, which up until now had been the biggest gift in the Orchestra’s 41-year history. Mr Weiss later allowed the ACO to reveal his ownership of the Guarneri cello, in the hope that others may be encouraged to follow his example and support the arts.

Mr Weiss describes his philanthropy as “instinctive”, his dedication to projects driven by a belief in their longevity and positive effect on future audiences. He explains “at this stage of my life, I feel I would be happier for the ACO to own the cello rather than me.” The ACO has enjoyed Mr Weiss’ friendship and support for over two decades in a variety of different capacities. In this time, he has been a Life Patron, a Patron of the Emerging Artists and Education Program, and a Chairman of the Medici Council, amongst many other roles.

On playing the Guarneri cello, Timo-Veikko Valve says, “the inspiration I have received from the cello can be heard in my concerts and recordings all over the world. Looking back now I think I would be struggling without it.” He added that Mr Weiss’ gift was a “very dear thing” and central to his development as a musician.

Audiences will next have the chance to hear the cello when Valve performs the Vivaldi Cello Concerto in E Minor in the ACO Soloists concert, touring October 6 – 19.