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Historic instruments feature in birthday concert

8 MARCH 2004

A string quartet crafted by world-famous Australian violin maker AE Smith is being played for the first time in more than a decade at the National Museum of Australia this Thursday.

The Eternal Strings concert is being performed by musicians including Carl Pini from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and John Gould from the Canberra Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the National Museum's third birthday.

"As the National Museum continues to build its National Historical Collection, our birthday is a wonderful opportunity to share one of our greatest prizes these priceless instruments being played by some of the nation's finest musicians," said National Museum acting director Craddock Morton.

The historic violins, cello and viola were made by AE Smith in the post-war years and acquired for the National Historical Collection just before his death in 1978. The concert will be attended by Mr Smith's daughter, Ruth Llewellyn, the widow of violinist Ernest Llewellyn, former director of the School of Music at ANU.

Media are invited to the start of a rehearsal by the Carl Pini Quartet, using the AE Smith instruments, in the National Museum's Studio at 2pm on Thursday.

AE Smith's story is being introduced to the National Museum's Eternity gallery in May. He migrated to Australia in 1909 after completing a violin-making apprenticeship in England and, from his Sydney studio, earned a reputation as one of the best violin makers of the 20th Century.

Smith made 210 instruments in his lifetime, including violins for world greats including Isaac Stern and Yehudi Menuhin. The National Museum quartet was overhauled for the birthday concert, with the instruments receiving new strings, bridges and sound posts.

This is the first classical musical concert to be held in the Hall, since the Museum opened on Acton Peninsula on 11 March 2001.

The Carl Pini Quartet has been playing the instruments for the past month, to prepare for the concert, which features works by Mozart, Beethoven and Shostakovich.

Eternal Strings is being held in the Museum's Hall from 7pm on Thursday, 11 March. Tickets are $25 with bookings on 02 6208 5034.

For interviews or more information please contact Public Affairs Director Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or m.portus@nma.gov.au