Dr Rice had dreamed of performing for the Queen, a wish fulfilled during the Secretary of State's global farewell tour this week
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Music has long been a passion for the politician. She learned the piano with her mother, a music teacher, and her name was apparently chosen by her parents from an Italian musical expression meaning 'with sweetness'

US Secretary of State Condoleezza plays piano at Palace for Queen

Amid her many talents Condoleezza Rice is also a trained concert pianist. And this week the outgoing Secretary of State fulfilled a dearly held wish by giving a recital before Queen Elizabeth.

The stateswoman performed a piece by Brahms, her favourite composer, in a music room at Buckingham Palace during her last foreign tour before George Bush's term ends next month.

She was accompanied on violin by Louise Miliband, the wife of Foreign Secretary David Miliband, and three London Symphony Orchestra members.

There was only an hour to practise with the musicians beforehand. Not that this would have fazed the accomplished American, who before switching to political science originally planned a career in music and enrolled at university to study the subject.

Afterwards, the Queen surprised her talented guest with an audio recording of the recital. "It was just a very nice gesture as a farewell gift," said the US politician's spokesman.

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