From the edi­tor

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Stephen Fitzpa­trick

THERE was a ter­rific piece just the other day writ­ten by com­poser and broad­caster An­drew Ford about the re­la­tion­ships mu­si­cians have with their in­stru­ments. You prob­a­bly re­mem­ber the ex­cite­ment last year when the Aus­tralian Cham­ber Orches­tra’s as­sis­tant leader Satu Van­ska ac­quired a Stradi­var­ius vi­olin worth more money than I’ll see in a life­time, al­though it’s not even about the cash; it’s about an in­stru­ment that has a liv­ing, breath­ing pres­ence in one’s life. Ford’s mus­ings were prompted by his re­ceipt of an orig­i­nal Stein­way pi­ano that had be­longed to com­poser Peter Ta­hour­din and that, on the lat­ter’s death, passed to his daugh­ter but did not fit in her house. A sim­ple mat­ter, then, for Ford to swap with Sarah Ta­hour­din what he de­scribed as his ‘‘per­fectly ser­vice­able’’ Kawai up­right in re­turn for a loan of the Stein­way — and who wouldn’t want one of those sub­lime crea­tures in the par­lour, close re­la­tion­ship with it or not? But there’s the rub: Ford freely ad­mits he’s no pi­anist, us­ing the in­stru­ment in­stead in a func­tional sense as he com­poses mu­sic, test­ing out chords, block­ing in sounds and phrases. He con­cludes, how­ever, that merely hav­ing a thing of such beauty, grace and power in the house in­duces him to make se­ri­ous ef­forts to prac­tise. It’s an in­ter­est­ing thought: re­mem­ber the days when there was a pi­ano in prac­ti­cally ev­ery front room and in the sa­loon of ev­ery pub? Cer­tainly tech­nol­ogy has eclipsed all that but there was once nothing ex­tra­or­di­nary about be­ing able to belt out the pop­u­lar hits of the day on a beat-up old goanna, or a fid­dle and a tea-chest bass, or even with a gum­leaf and a pair of spoons. I think it’s time to pull out my dog-eared copy of Jo­plin’s The En­ter­tainer and get rat­tling.

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