Musica Viva Australia

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Musica Viva Australia was founded in 1945 by Romanian-born violinist Richard Goldner, with the aim of bringing chamber music to Australia. The co-founder was German-born musicologist Walter Dullo. In 1945 Musica Viva was a string ensemble performing chamber music to small groups of European immigrants. In 2013, Musica Viva has become the largest chamber music presenter in the world.

Musica Viva also runs one of the largest music education programs in Australia, Musica Viva In Schools, which reaches around 280,000 school children each year.

Hywel Sims is the CEO. The Artistic Director is conductor and author Paul Kildea.


Musica Viva's heritage is grounded in the vision of one man - Richard Goldner - a Romanian-born violist who had trained in Vienna. Goldner arrived in Australia as a refugee in 1939 but maintained his strong connections with many of the most respected musicians in Europe.[1][2]

Once asked what he expected when he arrived in Australia, his answer was simple. First he expected to save his life. Second, he soon realised that music was not a way of life in Australia in the way it was in Europe. Men generally did not attend concerts as it was considered 'sissy' - a perception that lasted until the GIs came from America.[citation needed]

Goldner persevered and soon after formed the Monomeeth String Quartet, which took its name from an Indigenous Australian word for peace and harmony.

Inspired by his life in Vienna and the enormous respect for his teacher Simon Pullman, he was determined to create a 'Pullman-like' ensemble in Sydney. Reading in 1944 of his great mentor's death in the Treblinka extermination camp in August 1942, Goldner's plans accelerated and he recruited 17 musicians and divided them into four string quartets (and piano). The quartets were trained individually before uniting as one group - Richard Goldner's Sydney Musica Viva. In this enterprise he was assisted by fellow immigrant Walter Dullo, who is usually credited as Musica Viva's co-founder.

The first concert of Sydney Musica Viva was presented at Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music on 8 December 1945. Let down by Sydney's unreliable post-war power supply, the concert took place in darkness save the headlights of several cars parked in the doorway of the auditorium and some hurricane lamps in the foyers. The program included Beethoven's Große Fuge and Dullo's string orchestra arrangement of a work for mechanical organ by Mozart.

International Concert Season

Musica Viva's International Concert Season presents great chamber musicians from around the world.

Musica Viva In Schools

Since 1981 Musica Viva In Schools has been inspiring children to think about, actively listen to, and create music by bringing professional live music performances to primary and secondary schools all over Australia. Musica Viva In Schools provide teachers with up-to-date training and the latest digital technology so they can incorporate the live music experience into their everyday classroom teaching.

The Musician In The Classroom residency program sends professional musicians and composers to work directly with students. This could be to teach a school band, to coach a choir, to help write a school song, or just to teach music in the classroom.

Through grants and special funding, Musica Viva also creates special music projects for remote, disadvantaged and special needs schools and their students. The major program for secondary students, Live Music Packages, is a live performance and a workshop, which is a great way for elective music students to challenge themselves and learn directly from professional musicians.

In 2014, The Guardian named Musica Viva In Schools' Interactive Whiteboards as one of the ten global R&D projects that are changing arts and culture.

In 2016 Musica Viva announced the inaugural Artistic Director of Education, Michael Sollis.[3]

Musica Viva Festival

The Musica Viva Festival is held biennially at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. The festival is a four-day celebration of chamber music featuring the best international and local artists on stage. During the festival mentorship is provided for the Australian Youth Orchestra Chamber Players.

Coffee Concerts

Musica Viva’s Coffee Concerts are held in Sydney and Melbourne on five Tuesday/Wednesday mornings throughout the year. Here friends meet for cake and coffee in the foyer, then enjoy a short one-hour concert from a diverse selection of Australia’s finest chamber ensembles and soloists. The Sydney venue is the Independent Theatre until 2019 when it will move to The Concourse, Chatswood. The Melbourne venue is the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall and from 2019 will be renamed Melbourne Morning Masters.

Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition

In 2016, Musica Viva took over management of the Melbourne International Chamber Music Festival. The 8th edition was held in July 2018 at Australian National Academy of Music and Melbourne Recital Centre. The Grand Prize was won by piano trio Trio Marvin. [3]

Rising Stars

In 2012, Musica Viva ran a program called Rising Stars - an initiative that provides purposeful performance-based and practical training opportunities for three emerging Australian chamber ensembles each year. The Rising Stars of 2012 were the Enigma Quartet, Sydney Camerata Quartet and Streeton Trio. Genevieve Lacey is currently Artistic Director of Musica Viva's FutureMakers program [4]

Country Wide

Country Wide is a regional touring program of public concerts, family concerts, workshops and residencies reaching more than 18,000 regional Australians each year.


Musica Viva Export was a program run in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and arranged tours for Australian ensembles to South East Asia, India and China.

Beethoven and the Zipper

In 2011, the Academy Award-winning former film producer Suzanne Baker published a book titled Beethoven and the Zipper: The Astonishing Story of Musica Viva, which detailed how Richard Goldner had invented and patented a zip fastener for the Australian Army, and used the proceeds to establish Musica Viva Australia.[5]


  1. ^ Atkinson, Knight, McPhee: The Dictionary of Performing Arts in Australia
  2. ^ German Australia
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ Steve Meacham, "Author plays score of life found in music", Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2014

External links

  • Official Musica Viva Website
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