Friday, September 29, 2006

It's a Small World After All (repeat 250x)

Susan met the people living next door, who are just here for the weekend. Their family was the owner of one of the rarest pianos in the world (and certainly the rarest in Australia): a 125 year old Rönisch Concert Grand Piano , made out of a rare species of Nigerian timber. The owner -- an Australian man -- purchased it about 30 years ago without knowing its importance. Over time, the family realized what they had. The initial thought was that it had been built around 1884, but an examination showed that it was older. It may have been played at the 1880 Melbourne Exposition. No one is quite sure, as the company is in Dresden, and all of the records were destroyed during WWII.

The father decided that he needed to sell it, and feared that it would go to someone outside of Australia. When the Australian Environment and Heritage Authority said that it could not be taken out of the country, the Australian National University bought it. The family, from Melbourne, is in Canberra to attend a concert where it will be played. They invited us, but we are engaged in far less culturally elevated activity -- watching the Aussie Rules football final at John Hart's house, and then a barbecue.

What an extraordinary story -- to be able to contribute to a country's cultural and artistic heritage in that way. Amazing.

Oh, forgot the small world part. After introducing ourselves, and noting that Sydney has a very appropriate name for someone visiting Australia, one of the siblings told us what he named his daughter:



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