A little flashback in the history this time. I saw this beautiful painting recently and it inspired to look more about the art of play the piano during the era of beautiful dresses, lovely manners, tradition and etiquete.. and the piano often being a centrepiece of this.
The cliché of the female musician in the Victorian drawing-room is epitomized by William Orchardson’s painting, Her Mother’s Voice, with its pensive father, pausing from his newspaper to listen as his daughter plays the piano and sings to her lover.
Music was a favourite form of indoor recreation in Victorian times, with many a young lady expected to perform at social gatherings and functions. Moreover, the piano was an emblem of social status. A young woman could be judged as to her training and practice by her proficiency in playing the piano before a genteel audience. Among women, the piano was one of the very few areas where a woman could express and distinguish herself.
The Victorians also delighted in making music themselves, thousands of songs and piano pieces ranging in styles from the highly serious to the popular and comic music was composed and published for the amateur market, with pianos becoming more affordable to the middle classes as time went on.
In Pride & Prejudice the snobbish Caroline Bingley lists the skills required by any young lady who considers herself accomplished:
A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages….; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions…(ch. 8)
For most of the young ladies singing, playing the piano, and sewing were the main subjects covered, however some girls would be tutored in French.
Fewer people play the piano now and people tend to go for more visible status symbols.
However, personally, I would rank the piano as our most valued possession as it can engage the mind, heart, soul and body and allow us to experience the wonder of music and a musical literature which is more extensive than that of any other instrument.
I just need to get that dress and learn to sew.. 🙂