From the editor
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.