Melbourne (Vic.)

Old Melbourne Memories | ,

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Standing in the gathering winterly twilight, at the intersection of Elizabeth and Flinders Streets, one instinctively remarks the long crowded suburban trains, laden with homeward-bound passengers, quitting the city and care for the night's charmed interval. All the streets of busy Melbourne are yet thronged, in spite of the apparently rapid diminution which is proceeding. The indefinable hum, noticeable in large urban populations at the close of the day, as the lamps are lit, which mark for most men the boundary between work and recreation, is increasingly audible. The grand outlines of the larger public buildings become suggestively indistinct. If your ear be good, you may hear the steam-whistle and the roar of the country trains at Spencer Street Station. The senses of the musing spectator are filled to saturation with the sights and sounds proper to the largest, the most highly civilised, the most prosperous city in the world, for the years of its existence. Stranger than fiction does it not seem, that in the month of April, in the year of grace 1840, we should have migrated en famille from Sydney to assist in the colonisation of Port Phillip, in the founding of this city of Melbourne? The moderate-sized schooner which carried us safely hither in a few hours under a week had been chartered by Paterfamilias, so that we were unrestricted as to many matters not usually left to the discretion of passengers. It was a floating home. Colonists of ten years' standing, we had many things to bear with us, which under other circumstances of transit must have been left behind. There were carriage horses and cows, the boys' ponies, the children's canaries, poultry, and pigeons, dogs and cats, babies and nurses, furniture, flower-pots, workmen, house servants—all the component portions of a large household shifted bodily from a suburban home, and ready to be transferred to the first suitable dwelling in the new settlement. One can easily imagine to what a state of misery and confusion such a freight would have been reduced had bad weather come on. But the winds and the waves were kind, and on Saturday afternoon the harbour-master of Williamstown partook of some slight alcoholic refreshment on board, and welcomed us to Port Phillip. Well is remembered even now the richly-green appearance of the under-stocked grassy flat upon which the particularly small village of Williamstown stood. A few cottages, more huts—with certain public-houses, of course—made up the township. More distinctly marked even were the succulence and juiciness of the first Port Phillip mutton-chops upon which was regaled our keenly hungry party. We had just quitted the enfeebled meat markets of Sydney, scarce recovered from that terrible drought which wasted the years of 1837, 1838, and 1839. We had reached a land of Goshen evidently—a land of milk and butter, if not of honey—a land of chops and steaks, of sirloins and "under-cuts"—of all youthful luxuries well-nigh forgotten—of late unattainable in New South Wales as strawberry ice in a cane-brake..


Chopin's Piano | Paul Kildea

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'Beguiling ... Limpidly written, effortlessly learned' William Boyd, TLS, Books of the Year In November 1838 Frédéric Chopin, George Sand and her two children sailed to Majorca to escape the Parisian winter. They settled in an abandoned monastery at Valldemossa in the mountains above Palma, where Chopin finished what would eventually be recognised as one of the great and revolutionary works of musical Romanticism - his 24 Preludes. There was scarcely a decent piano on the island (these were still early days in the evolution of the modern instrument), so Chopin worked on a small pianino made by a local craftsman, which remained in their monastic cell for seventy years after he and Sand had left. This brilliant and unclassifiable book traces the history of Chopin's 24 Preludes through the instruments on which they were played, the pianists who interpreted them and the traditions they came to represent. Yet it begins and ends with the Majorcan pianino, which during the Second World War assumed an astonishing cultural potency as it became, for the Nazis, a symbol of the man and music they were determined to appropriate as their own. The unexpected hero of the second part of the book is the great keyboard player and musical thinker Wanda Landowska, who rescued the pianino from Valldemossa in 1913, and who would later become one of the most influential musical figures of the twentieth century. Kildea shows how her story - a compelling account based for the first time on her private papers - resonates with Chopin's, while simultaneously distilling part of the cultural and political history of Europe and the United States in the central decades of the century. Kildea's beautifully interwoven narratives, part cultural history and part detective story, take us on an unexpected journey through musical Romanticism and allow us to reflect freshly on the changing meaning of music over time..

Literary Criticism

Colonial Australian Fiction | Ken Gelder,Rachael Weaver

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Over the course of the nineteenth century a remarkable array of types appeared – and disappeared – in Australian literature: the swagman, the larrikin, the colonial detective, the bushranger, the “currency lass”, the squatter, and more. Some had a powerful influence on the colonies’ developing sense of identity; others were more ephemeral. But all had a role to play in shaping and reflecting the social and economic circumstances of life in the colonies. In Colonial Australian Fiction: Character Types, Social Formations and the Colonial Economy, Ken Gelder and Rachael Weaver explore the genres in which these characters flourished: the squatter novel, the bushranger adventure, colonial detective stories, the swagman’s yarn, the Australian girl’s romance. Authors as diverse as Catherine Helen Spence, Rosa Praed, Henry Kingsley, Anthony Trollope, Henry Lawson, Miles Franklin, Barbara Baynton, Rolf Boldrewood, Mary Fortune and Marcus Clarke were fascinated by colonial character types, and brought them vibrantly to life. As this book shows, colonial Australian character types are fluid, contradictory and often unpredictable. When we look closely, they have the potential to challenge our assumptions about fiction, genre and national identity. The preliminary pages and introduction to this work are available free to download at the Sydney eScholarship Repository: Contents Introduction: The Colonial Economy and the Production of Colonial Character Types 1 The Reign of the Squatter 2 Bushrangers 3 Colonial Australian Detectives 4 Bush Types and Metropolitan Types 5 The Australian Girl Works Cited Index About the series The Sydney Studies in Australian Literature series publishes original, peer-reviewed research in the field of Australian literature. The series comprises monographs devoted to the works of major authors and themed collections of essays about current issues in the field of Australian literary studies. The series offers well-researched and engagingly written re-evaluations of the nature and importance of Australian literature, and aims to reinvigorate its study both in Australia and internationally..