Anthony Marwood in the Sydney Morning Herald

A fiddle of fate gives the master his voice
Harriet Cunningham, Sydney Morning Herald
November 5, 2012

The way Anthony Marwood tells it, his life has been a series of serendipitous events.

“Life is full of chance meetings,” says the British-based violin virtuoso, who plays on one of the world’s rarest violins. The exquisite Carlo Bergonzi violin, made in Cremona in 1736, was bought on his behalf by a team of benefactors led by a New Zealand businessman, Christopher Marshall, who met Marwood on a flight from London to Los Angeles.

“It turned out he already had tickets to my concert – we were doing a tour of New Zealand,” Marwood says.

“Christopher Marshall was talking to me after the concert. He was fascinated by the violin and said the words that every string player wonders whether they’ll ever hear: ‘If that violin comes up for sale I’d like to help you buy it’.”

Marwood knew the violin was not, and would not ever be for sale, so he asked: “Are you interested in that violin or are you interested in helping me?”

Marshall, a Yorkshire man, appreciated the young violinist’s straight talking and agreed to help find him a violin. After an international search, Marwood found his perfect instrument.

“I just had this strange sixth sense that Bergonzi was it,” he says. “I don’t know why. I had never even played on one. But it felt right in some very mysterious way – it was just meant to be.”

Perhaps the same forces were at work when Marwood asked a friend and colleague, the composer Thomas Ades, to compose a violin concerto for him. Ades agreed, with the proviso that it might take a while. It was to be 10 years from the initial question to its premiere at the London Proms in 2005.

“Things come to you when you’re ready to receive them,” Marwood says.

Serendipity, indeed. But look more closely and it is clear that talent, imagination and a certain fearlessness also play their part in his rise. More than just a soloist, he is an avid collaborator, whether it is playing chamber music or directing ensembles such as the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. He also co-directs a chamber music festival, teaches regularly and was acclaimed for acting, dancing and playing the violin in Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale.

He is about to embark on a tour for Musica Viva with Serbian pianist Aleksandar Madzar, a long-time collaborator. It is a substantial program: Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, Debussy, Schubert and a new work by Australian composer Gordon Kerry.

“We must be insane,” Marwood says, laughing. “But somehow the language of Gordon Kerry and Debussy form one connection, and the Kreutzer and the Schubert Fantasy form another pairing. It really works.”


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