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Germany: Globally-minded from birth? The pianoforte example


This is a chapter in an edited book German-Australian Encounters and Cultural Transfers: Global Dynamics in Transnational Lands



This chapter is an auto-ethnographic essay from my perspective as an Australian radio producer and child of suburban Australia. It tries to answer two questions popular in the Australian-German cultural dialogue: Why is Berlin colloquially referred to as an outer suburb of Melbourne? And secondly, can one establish a link between the ethic of Germany selling pianos at the Exhibitions of 1880/1888, and the present-day openness of Germany to Australian musicians and cultural conversation?


In this chapter, I draw on personal experiences in Australia and Germany, interviews with prominent German politicians and musicians and historic data. The pianoforte here acts as a metaphorical connection, as well as a factual exemplar of German-Australian musical and mercantile connections since the time of the Australian gold rush, when German pianos suddenly found their way into more living rooms in Melbourne than from any other country. I argue that it was in that moment Germany forged a connection to Melbourne that endures to this day.

Shirrefs, M. (2018). Germany’s Pianoforte: Globally-Minded from Birth?. In: Nickl, B., Herrschner, I., Goździak, E. (eds) German-Australian Encounters and Cultural Transfers. Global Germany in Transnational Dialogues. Springer, Singapore.