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Friday 1 November 2013 1:53pm

Stories and soundscapes from colonial New Zealand

Kirstine Moffat

piano_forteThe book

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 and other accounts. 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 essay on piano soundscapes.

The author

KIRSTINE MOFFAT is Convenor of English and a senior lecturer at the University of Waikato. Her research interests in nineteenth and early twentieth-century feminist writing, and in particular the motif of music and what it conveys about femininity, led to the work that produced this book. She is co-editor of the Journal of New Zealand Literature.

Publication details

Paperback, 240 x 148 mm, 280 pages, b&w and colour illustrations, ISBN 978 1 877372 79 7, $45

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