TRADİTİONAL AND MODERN CULTURE: HİSTORY, ACTUAL SİTUATİON, PROSPECTS, Praha, Czech Republic, 20 - 21 September 2020, vol.10, no.45, pp.52-59
Music was the first important step of the Ottoman modernization. The Ottoman sultans, princes, and princesses had been the pioneers for the modernization of the Ottoman music since the reign of Sultan Selim III (r. 1789-1807). In the last quarter of the 19th century, western music became a part of the education, culture, and daily life of the Ottoman society. Piano education was a part of the curriculum at schools. Even it was a matter of discussion in 1908 to make piano classes not an elective but compulsory course in the Ottoman public schools.
During the thirty-three years-long reign, Sultan Abdul Hamid II became one of the most notable monarchs providing patronage for composers in the world. For this reason, during his reign, there were many music pieces dedicated to the sultan. His deep interest in western musical instruments, especially piano, led him to follow the technological developments about automatic instruments and auto pianos. The first auto pianos and the only one grand auto piano, known as lost today, came to the Ottoman palace in the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
This is the story of the grand auto piano of the Sultan, which has been known as lost, which will be re-written in this article, based on a comparative study of the Ottoman archival documents and the field study made in Beylerbeyi Palace. This study aims to find if there was a grand auto piano in the Ottoman palaces matching with the piano in the documents as well as to understand the role of the Ottoman bureaucrats and other factors on the sultan’s interest for mechanical pianos.
Keywords: auto piano, grand piano, music, Ottoman empire, history