Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Piano Forte Stories and Soundscapes from Colonial New Zealand - Kirstine Moffat
In 1827 the newly wed Elizabeth Mair arrived in Paihia, on board the mission schooner Herald. Her treasured Broadwood grand square piano accompanied her, almost certainly the first piano to arrive in New Zealand.
Piano Forte focuses on the era in which the piano became of central significance in the private, social and cultural lives of many New Zealanders. It is a book composed of many voices, being based on memoirs, diaries, letters, concert programmes, company records, fiction and visual images. The stories begin in 1827, with the arrival of what was probably the first piano to be brought to New Zealand, and end in 1930, when the increasing popularity of the phonograph, the radio and the introduction of talkie movies were beginning to have a profound impact on people’s leisure activities.
Initially, the piano was a stranger in this land, a European musical instrument that introduced Maori to a new sound world and which provided European settlers with a reassuring sense of ‘home’. For both, it offered opportunities for social and cultural activities, and, as time went by, a possible career. By the end of the period, the piano, too, had thoroughly settled in, no longer a stranger but a loved, essential part of New Zealand society.
A selection of historical sketches, paintings and photographs of the piano in many contexts is included as a visual evocation of piano soundscapes.
About the author:
Kirstine Moffat was born in Scotland and arrived in New Zealand at the age of seven. She has lived in Queenstown, Cambridge, Wellington, Tauranga, and Hamilton. She is the Convenor of English at the University of Waikato, where her research focuses on New Zealand settlement writing and culture. For as long as she can remember, she has loved books and playing the piano. This is her first book.
Otago University Press - RRP $45.00 / £24.50 UK