For over three years this observational documentary closely follows an Tasmanian piano tuner Martin Tucker as he ventures into remote corners of the Australian continent, battling the climate and retrieving old acoustic pianos for a unique piano orphanage.
From Darwin to Alice Springs, and isolated rural towns in Tasmania, we will meet eccentric and passionate piano lovers who all share with Martin, the unique bond of deep love for their pianos and the joy that music brings to their lives.
This documentary offers a rare and intimate window into the homes of this diverse group of piano lovers, as they share not only their musical passion but also their intimate life stories, as Martin spends hours tuning and restoring their family heirlooms. Rich and poor, old and young, happy
or depressed, Anglosaxon, Asian or aboriginal - they all love pianos. This documentary records powerful vignettes of unique and rich cultural history within this nation.
As Martin travels across Australia tuning pianos he sees the decline of the piano, with even some of his own clients, asking him to remove or destroy them so that they can be replaced with a digital piano.
Seeing the imminent death of so many unwanted acoustic pianos reaches a climax in the film where Martin feels compelled to find a solution. He and his piano removalist friend, Tony Gamble, decide they will create a piano orphanage. It begins in Tony’s garage and quickly grows out of space. Now pianos have to be stored also at Martin's house and his family residence putting at risk of the safety of the floor being able to support them all. Next stop is Tony's donkey farm outside Hobart but that is filling up too.
How many pianos is it possible to save?
How will they find homes for these unwanted pianos?
Will we see pianos forever?
This documentary shows the rich history and cultural connection to pianos in Australia with the aim of keeping this traditional piano culture alive.
Martin Tucker is a piano tuner from Hobart, Tasmania. For 35 years he has made his living from tuning traditional acoustic pianos by ear and meticulously repairing them. Martin romantically fell in love with the piano as a child and has been playing the piano since he was nine years old. Martin isn’t scared of living roughly and he has an adaptability to travel and go to places others would never dare. His determination, ability to develop close bonds with his clients and dry humour will keep audiences entertained all the way through this story.
The film will unfold the story of two Australian immigrants – Octavius Beale and Hugo Wertheim, who built factories to make pianos for local market. We see archival footage of Beale, the biggest piano factory in British Empire. Both Beale and Wertheim pianos are still alive in Australian homes and being maintained and tuned by Martin. The documentary also captures the piano owners’ stories around the Beale and Wertheim pianos in their families and the generations before them.
Through the film, we hope to give our audiences a greater appreciation of the traditional acoustic piano and the motivation for the audience to help them be preserved and utilised within our communities. The documentary hopes to inspire more piano-lovers so that pianos are always a part of our living heritage and not a bygone chapter of history.
Pianos are now more available and affordable than ever. Martin and Tony’s piano orphanage have pianos to give to loving homes. There are hundreds of unwanted pianos being found on tip faces and op shops. If they are not found homes and looked after they too will fall into decay.