In Australia’s golden age of piano production, between 1870 and 1930, the piano was, as Michael Atherton notes, ‘as much a coveted possession as a smartphone or an iPad is today’. The First Fleet imported an eclectic assortment of items, including dogs, rabbits, cattle, seedlings, and a ‘Frederick Beck’ piano. The latter belonged to the naval surgeon George Wogan, who played it on the long voyage. Pianist and historian Geoffrey Lancaster maintains that a piano, of the same brand, now in a collection of 130 instruments owned by the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, is Wogan’s piano.
Gillian Wills reviews 'A Coveted Possession: The rise and fall of the piano in Australia' by Michael Atherton
A Coveted Possession: The rise and fall of the piano in Australia
by Michael Atherton
La Trobe University Press, $34.99 pb, 288 pp, 9781863959919
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