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Jan 28 2009

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Australia Day in Paris

Australian musicians Tristan Lee and Douglas Rutherford at the Musee de la Vie Romantique, Paris, January 27 2009.

I’ve never been a big fan of Australia Day. It’s supposed to mark the day in 1788 when Captain Arthur Phillip, who was the commander of the first fleet of British convict ships, arrived in Sydney. This was the start of the British invasion and occupation of what later came to be known as Australia.

Here in Paris, the Chamber Strings of Melbourne are in town to perform Australia Day concerts, one of which is being hosted by Université Paris Diderot, where I spent my sabbatical semester in 2007 teaching and researching in the department of Etudes Interculturelles et Langues Appliques.

It was a colleague from there who alerted me to the Melbourne group’s performance. By happy coincidence, my son—also a musician, studying in England—is staying with me for a few days, and has a very good friend among the visiting orchestra. The performance was in the elegant College Franco-Brittanique at the Cité Universitaire.

And where does one take two young musicians on the day after Australia Day ? To the Musée de la Vie Romantique of course, where they can imagine themselves as Liszt and Chopin, together with George Sand, visiting the Romantic artist Ary Scheffer who owned the house at the time and for thirty years ran his studio there, as well as his salon to which he welcomed artists and intellectuals.

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