Richard Tognetti

Quick Facts

  • Name: Richard Tognetti
  • Born: Wollongong,1965
  • Plays a violin made in 1743
  • Made a National Living Treasure in 1999
  • Artistic Director and Lead Violin, Australian Chamber Orchestra
  • Loves surfing


Richard Tognetti is an exciting violinist who performs in Australia and internationally using a violin that is nearly 250 years old. He also plays an electric violin. He grew up listening to classical and rock music. Tognetti says, 'I have memories of when I was two listening to music ... I felt connected, totally, with it ... music is my addiction. More than that, music offers me – and … a lot of people – a connection with who we are.'

Tognetti initially studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and then went to the Berne Conservatory in Switzerland where, in 1989, he was awarded the Tschumi Prize as the top graduate soloist.

In 1989 Tognetti returned to Australia to perform with the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) and was soon appointed the ACO’s Artistic Director. Tognetti and the ACO have undertaken various international tours, performing at events such as the world-famous Tanglewood Festival. Tognetti is proud of the achievements of the ACO, not only because it is in demand internationally but also for its Emerging Artists program.

Tognetti likes to combine classical and contemporary music in ACO programs, an innovation which was considered extraordinary when he first became the Artistic Director with the ACO. He says, 'I grew up in Wollongong in the 1970s, on a diet of Pink Floyd … they have a classical music background, and their music has an orchestral base. Now, it’s not so unique [to merge both forms], but then it seemed a little shocking.' (Sydney Morning Herald, September 2005).

Tognetti’s commitment to using various musical and artistic forms has led him to work with musicians such as Peter Garrett, Neil Finn, Tim Freedman and Paul Capsis, photographer Bill Henson and cartoonist Michael Leunig. Richard was co-composer of the score and one of the performers on the soundtrack for Peter Weir’s film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Tognetti taught the film’s star, Russell Crowe, to play the violin for the film.

Richard Tognetti was made a National Living Treasure in 1999. 



Australian Chamber Orchestra
Sydney Morning Herald article about Tognetti and his approach to music