The Piano Stool

Playing music on your own musical instruments was a common pastime in the 19th-century Australian home.  And by the end of the century, most middle-class living or drawing rooms had a piano, which could be played competently by at least one member of the family.  The daughters of the Walker family, of 'Rhodes' at Concord on the Parramatta River, would all have learned to play music, probably the piano, as part of the accepted education of upper-middle-class girls.

Rhodes at Concord

'Rhodes', Concord, photographer unknown, 1862-1890. State Library of New South Wales: PXA 1266.

The Walkers' music stool, on display, was almost certainly well used.  One daughter, Anna Frances Walker (1830-1913), a celebrated botanical painter, demonstrated her artistic and musical talents by showing illustrations and 'two songs set to music' at the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879.

"Music stools should, above all, be firm and substantial.  A rickety music stool...is an abomination."

Piano stool with adjustable rising action, c1875-1900

Piano stool with adjustable rising action, c1875-1900, provenanced to the Walker family of 'Rhodes', Concord, NSW. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Gift of Chee Soon & Fitzgerald, Sydney. Photo (c) Jamie North.

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