William Hennessy AM


William Hennessy AM was the founder of the Australian String Quartet and its original leader from 1985 to 1996. He was the Artistic Director of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra from 2006 to 2021 and has long been acknowledged as one of Australia’s foremost violinists and music educators. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2018.

William Hennessy has made over 300 concerto appearances with Australian orchestras having appeared on numerous occasions as soloist with each of the major Australian symphony and chamber orchestras (except the Queensland Symphony Orchestra). He has performed in thirty-eight countries in a career spanning nearly four decades.

Born in Wollongong NSW, his major music studies were with Harry Curby and Robert Pikler at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He was the founding leader of The Australian String Quartet 1985-1996, founding deputy leader of the Australian Chamber Orchestra 1975 – 1977 and founder director of The Tasmanian Symphony Chamber Players, The Melbourne University Chamber Orchestra, and The Adelaide Youth Chamber Orchestra. He was concertmaster of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra from 1980 – 1984 and has been a member for substantial periods of The Macquarie Trio, The Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and The English Chamber Orchestra. In the early 1990s he was Artistic Director of The Adelaide Chamber Orchestra.

William Hennessy was Head of Strings and Chamber Music at the University of Melbourne from 1997 – 2006 during which time he played an important role in assisting the developments of the TinAlley Quartet, the Flinders Quartet, The Tailem Quartet, the Hamer Quartet and the Seraphim Trio. Many of his former students hold significant professional performing positions. His students have also enjoyed many successes in important music competitions.