Lady Chelmsford's piano to relive glory days

On October 25 and 30, Soirées Musicales will present two 19th century inspired musical concerts at Old Government House, QUT Gardens Point Campus in Brisbane.

View of Government House, Brisbane 1908. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image APO-028-01-0003

View of Government House, Brisbane 1908. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image APO-028-01-0003

The quintet will recreate a 1906 'house concert', hosted by the Governor and his wife, Lady Chelmsford. The music will include vocal ensembles by Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Brahms, accompanied on Lady Chelmsford's Bechstein piano.

Drawing room at Government House, Brisbane, October 1907. The Bechstein piano is visible. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image APO-028-01-0008

Drawing room at Government House, Brisbane, October 1907. The Bechstein piano is visible. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image APO-028-01-0008

The Chelmsford family were a talented musical family. Led by Lady Chelmsford who was an authority on music, and aided by the good acoustics at Government House, music and musical performances were a daily occurrence. In June 1906, Lady Chelmsford requested the purchase of a new ‘Bechstein’ miniature grand piano for the Drawing Room for own use in the family’s many private and public performances.

Lady Chelmsford, ca. 1905. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 158623

Lady Chelmsford, ca. 1905. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 158623

In June 1910, the ‘Bechstein’, with the rest of the furniture from what became known as Old Government House was removed to Fernberg the temporary Government House.  At an unknown point in time it services became no longer required and it was moved into the basement for storage where it languished for many years.  In 1985, Sir James Ramsay, Queensland’s then Governor gifted the piano to the National Trust who undertook its full restoration. Today Lady Chelmsford’s Bechstein graces the Hall at Old Government House.

State Library of Queensland is very fortunate to hold the Chelmsford Photograph Album. The album includes images of various places visited by Lord Chelmsford including Burma, India, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The images in Queensland include Government House and one photograph from 1907 (pictured above) shows the Bechstein piano in the Drawing Room.

All proceeds from this not for profit event will go towards bringing the next musical heritage event to the public. Soirées Musicales is proudly support by the National Trust of Australia (Queensland), Old Government House and 4MBS Classic FM. Tickets available via 4MBS.

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