I am looking for the name of a short story about a family that moves to the moon. They aren't happy there and want to go back to earth. The father uses up their return voyage money to have their piano shipped to the moon. ...

I think it is by one of the big 4 authors, Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke or Heinlein. Thanks so much for your time.

  • Any idea how old it is? When did you read it? Was it in a magazine or an anthology? – user14111 Jul 27 '15 at 3:05
  • Are you sure it was the moon, and a Piano? There's a Ray Bradbury story (from the Martian Chronicles, as I recall), involving a family moving to Mars and the father surprising them by having their Earth house moved there. – K-H-W Jul 27 '15 at 3:19

This sounds like "The Strawberry Window" by Ray Bradbury. As K-H-W commented, there are a couple of slight discrepancies: the family is living on Mars, not the moon, and the money is their life's savings instead of being specifically intended for a return trip.

The wife is unhappy living on Mars and misses their home back on Earth:

"Bob..." Her voice was not bitter, but soft, featureless, and as uncolored as the moonlight that showed what she was doing. "So many nights for six months I've talked this way; I'm ashamed. You work hard building houses in town. A man who works so hard shouldn't have to listen to a wife gone sad on him. But there's nothing to do but talk it out. It's the little things I miss most of all. I don't know — silly things. Our front-porch swing. The wicker rocking chair, summer nights. Looking at the people walk or ride by those evenings, back in Ohio. Our black upright piano, out of tune. [...] All those crazy, silly things... they're not important. But it seems those are things that come to mind around three in the morning. I'm sorry."

The conversation prompts her husband to admit that he's spent the family's savings:

"I threw it away, Carrie, I swear, I threw it away on nothing. It was going to be a surprise. But now, tonight, there you are, and there are those blasted suitcases on the floor and..."

"Bob," she said, turning around. "You mean we've gone through all this, on Mars, putting away extra money every week, only to have you burn it up in a few hours?"

"I don't know," he said. "I'm a crazy fool. Look, it's not long till morning. We'll get up early. I'll take you down to see what I've done. I don't want to tell you, I want you to see. And if it's no go then, well, there's always those suitcases and the rocket to Earth four times a month." [...]

"The freight rocket came in this morning," he said, quietly. "Our delivery's on it. Let's go and pick it up."

He reveals that the "delivery" contains the family's belongings and bits and pieces of their house back on Earth. And when he gets to the final crate:

He ran down the steps to the last and as-yet unopened canvas-covered crate. With his pocket knife he cut a hole in the canvas. "Guess!" he said.

"My kitchen stove? My sewing machine?"

"Not in a million years." He smiled very gently. "Sing me a song," he said. [...]

He ripped the canvas wider and shoved his hand into the crate and touched around for a quiet moment, and started to sing the words himself until he moved his hand a last time and then a single clear piano chord sprang out on the morning air.

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The classic Heinlein story "It's Great to To Back!" is about a couple who live on the Moon but desire to return to earth. Once they do, they learn that they really liked the Moon better.

A decent match for your question, but I don't remember the piano element. Here's the wikipedia description:

A physical chemist and his wife (the MacRaes), who have been in residence in Luna City on the Moon for some time, spend much of their time volubly regretting having ever left Earth. When this attitude results in social conflict with "Loonies" who love their home, the pair feel isolated, misunderstood, and put-upon. They decide to return "dirt-side", only to discover that the Earth of their imaginations bears only the faintest of resemblances to the actuality, which includes things unheard of in Luna, like smog, unpleasant weather, the common cold, and repairmen who refuse to make house calls. Ultimately, they discover that all they really want is to go back to Luna City, where they are welcomed with open arms by their peers (now that they have stopped complaining all the time) and settle down to be happy "Lunatics".

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