This piano is of great significance as one of the few remaining artefacts that can be positively identified as having been exhibited in Australia's first international exhibition, The Sydney International Exhibition of 1879-1880. The exhibition has great historical and cultural importance as it brought world attention to Australia and its wealth of natural and cultural resources. It was also the first time that many Australians had an opportunity to see new products and innovations from around the world. The exhibition was also a major political, commercial and cultural event for the colony of New South Wales, which was recognised as being the "foundation colony" of European settlement in Australia.
The piano is also significant at several other levels. It was brought to Australia by Bechstein in 1879 expressly for exhibiting in the Sydney International Exhibition. There it won First Prize in the musical instruments section of the exhibition and has remained in Australia ever since. At the time it was claimed that this was the first time Bechstein pianos had come to New South Wales and the first time Bechstein had exhibited internationally since the 1867 Paris Exhibition. The piano was also used in performances during the exhibition and played by several of the colony's leading pianists including the exhibition's Musical Director, the composer and musician, Paolo Giorza.
The piano's association with the Sydney International Exhibition is also of great significance to the Powerhouse Museum (The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences) which was founded in 1879 and its original collections were specifically drawn from the International Exhibition.
The Sydney International Exhibition building and some of the collection of exhibits that were retained for the early museum were totally destroyed by fire in 1882. The piano therefore has great significance to the Museum, the State of New South Wales and Australia in its context at the nation's first international exhibition.
Curator, music & musical instruments