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A Coveted Possession: The Rise and Fall of the Piano in Australia

Michael Atherton

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Black Inc
02 July 2018
Keyboard instruments; History; Social & cultural history; Material culture
What has lived with us, entertained us, travelled with us and symbolised Australian aspirations, only to end up gathering dust or even at the tip? It’s not the car, or the washing machine, or the sewing machine... it’s the piano!

The intriguing cultural history of the piano in Australia

From the instruments that floated ashore at Sydney Cove in the late eighteenth century to the resurrection of derelict heirlooms in the streets of twenty-first-century Melbourne, A Coveted Possession tells the curious story of Australia’s intimate and intrepid relationship with the piano. It charts the piano’s fascinating adventures across Australia – on the goldfields, at the frontlines of war, in the manufacturing hubs of the Federation era, and in the hands of the makers, entrepreneurs, teachers and virtuosos of the twentieth history – to illuminate the many worlds in which the ivories were tinkled.

Before electricity brought us the gramophone, the radio and eventually the TV, the piano was central to family and community life. With its iron frame, polished surfaces and ivory keys, an upright piano in the home was a modern industrial machine, a musical instrument and a treasured member of the household, conveying powerful messages about class, education, leisure, national identity and intergenerational history.
By:   Michael Atherton
Imprint:   Black Inc
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 30mm
Weight:   442g
ISBN:   9781863959919
ISBN 10:   1863959912
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   02 July 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Emeritus Professor Michael Atherton is a composer and performer across several instruments, and several genres and styles of music. His research has focused on Asia-Pacific musical instruments, Australian instrument makers and intercultural music practices. His performances and recordings include creative realisations of ancient Egyptian, medieval and renaissance music, as well as choral music and film scores.

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