Ernest Llewellyn

Musician, Educator
Inducted 6th December 2006

Ernest Llewellyn was born in Kurri Kurri in 1915 and attended Kurri Kurri State School, Maitland High School, and the NSW Conservatorium of Music.

He was taught the violin by the influential Jascha Gopinko, and by his early 20s was playing with the Sydney String Quartet and the Sydney ABC Orchestra. In 1936, he established a reputation as a soloist under Sir Malcolm Sargent.

Between 1940 and 1942 Earnest was Deputy Leader, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, on the teaching staff at Melbourne University, and was also Leader of the Melbourne University String Quartet.

From 1942 to 1944 he served in the RAAF. From 1944 to 1948 was Leader of Queensland State String Quartet, including during its tour of New Zealand in 1948. In 1949, he toured the eastern states of Australia with Hephzibah Menuhin presenting the complete violin and piano sonatas of Beethoven

From 1949 to 1964 he held positions as Concertmaster and Assistant Conductor with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, as well as being Assistant Conductor from 1959 to 1964. During this time, he was also Leader of ABC String Quartet from 1949 - 1955. In 1952, he toured New Zealand with the Llewellyn Kennedy Trio.

In 1956, he was awarded the William Kapell Memorial Scholarship and the Fulbright Research Award, affiliated with Juilliard School of Music and in 1958, appointed Music Director, Chamber Music Festival at Mittagong.

Perhaps the greatest legacy of Ernest Llewellyn is his establishment of the Canberra School of Music. He was appointed as Founding Director in 1959, and held the position until his retirement in 1980. Under his stewardship, the School grew to become one of the best in the country, with impressive facilities including the Llewellyn Hall, Canberra’s foremost concert venue. During most of this period, he was also Musical Director and Conductor for the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

Ernest’s reputation extended beyond Australia , being the first Australian to serve on a jury in the Tchaikovsky Competition, in 1978, and advising on music education in China and Canada.

Ernest died in 1982 aged 67.

Ernest Llewellyn is commemorated through the Ernest Llewellyn Memorial Scholarship, the Llewellyn Hall at the Australian National University School of Music in Canberra, one of Australia’s finest concert halls, and the Llewellyn Choir in Canberra.

For more information, visit the Australian Dictionary of Biography website.

Plaque location

Garden of Honour, Rotary Park, Lang St, Kurri Kurri