Piano accordion belonging to Australian Antarctic Division Director Dr Phillip Law and used by him as onboard entertainment during trips to Antarctica. This is part of Museum Victoria's collection of artefacts from the post-war era of scientific exploration of Antarctica.

Dr Law explained in 1999: 'The Law family had a tradition of teaching themselves music. I had an elder brother who taught himself to play about five different instruments and was a professional musician as well as a schoolteacher for many years. I earned my way through university playing saxophone. My main instrument was clarinet, but I taught myself piano. Because I didn't own a piano, I then bought a piano accordion, which I used on every voyage to provide music for the blokes, with singalong sessions.' (Australian Academy of Science web site)

Law was attracted to jazz music in his teens, which Qulity and Lugg (2013) describe as 'setting the scene for later Antarctic musical activities'. His grandfather 'had initiated him to rhythm on the bones and spoons and he had picked up the elements of playing the tinwhistle and mouth organ in primary school. Late in high school, he was given in succession a piccolo and a clarinet, both of which widened his musical horizons'; his first key musical role was as drummer in Geof 's Hamilton High School Jazz Band. Law returned to the clarinet when he realized that the time it took to pack up his kit might be better spent socializing with girls. Later, as a teacher posted to Clunes, in regional Victoria in 1933, Law continued to play jazz while pursuing his university education.

Dr Law's clarniet so held by Museums Victoria: HT 14451. His B flat soprano saxophone is held in the collection of the Australian Jazz Museum.

Physical Description

Piano accordion with shoulder strap and case.


Statement of Significance: Although Phillip Law never overwintered in Antarctica himself, musical instruments were important for expeditioners' enterainment. As such this object also represents the value of entertainment during the long periods of darkness and isolation or inclement weather,

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