Serendipity used to mean flicking through a dictionary and finding interesting and unusual words.
But now it means stumbling across fascinating websites. Like this one: Australian Colonial Dance.
It’s a lovely little blog about dance and music in colonial Australia, with interesting information and (crucially) bibliographic lists of sources.
Of course my favourite post is the one describing Australia’s first piano.
Surgeon George Worgan, thirty-three, had improbably managed to bring a piano with him on the First Fleet. In 1790 he gallantly began to tutor Elizabeth Macarthur, telling her she’d ‘done wonders in being able to play off God save the King and Foots Minuet’ and that she was ‘reading the Notes with great facility.’ Worgan went so far as to make Elizabeth a gift of the pianoforte upon his departure in 1791.
I’d always imagined that piano as a modern upright but now I learn it probably looked like this one, in the photo. And, oh frabjous day, there is a link to Foote’s Minuet – to the sheet music and to an MP3 recording. Thank you!
Other interesting posts include:
- Governor Phillip meets Jane Austen
- Mrs Macquarie’s Cello and The Flowers of Edinburgh
- Francois Girard, Dancing Master, Convict
No, I don’t know the people behind the Australian Colonial Dance website. But I’m very grateful to them for sharing.