The pianos in Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace, which hosted some 1 million people last year, draw great interest from local and foreign visitors for their magnificence and harmony with their surroundings.
National Palace guide Osman Nihat Bişgin said Dolmabahçe Palace was a Tanzimat (reform-era) palace, adding, “All features of the reform era are clearly seen in Dolmabahçe Palace. This process, which we call the Europeanization and westernization process, made western music enter Dolmabahçe Palace.”
He said the palace had a total of 12 pianos, and all of them had ornamentations suitable to the style and harmony of the palace.
Bişgin said the palace opened in 1856 and the pianos were brought there nearly at the same time. “The wives of sultans were taking piano education in the palace, particularly in the final years of the Ottomans. There are many pianos and none of them were inactive; all of them were being played,” he said.
He said most of the piano brands in the palace were Hertz, Pleyel, Gaveau and Erard, and that the number of grand pianos was less.
Speaking of a striking green piano in Zülvecheyn Hall on the upper floor of the palace, Bişgin said it was a classical Pleyel-brand palace piano.
“Since the magnificence and glory was dominant in the palace, the pianos draw our attention visually. Their sound is not very famous, but they are very important and famous visually,” he said.
Bişgin said Zülvecheyn Hall had gilded ornamentation on its white and beige ceiling, adding, “We see enormous harmony between the piano and the ceiling.”
He said the furniture in Dolmabahçe Palace was in its original place, and added, “We can say that the pianos belong to these halls. The pianos in the Zülvecheyn and Süfera halls were designed to add visual richness to halls like them. They are not generally played.”
Crystal piano and chair in the Glass Kiosk
As for the rare crystal piano in the Glass Kiosk, Bişgin said the following: “The Glass Kiosk is a big venue hidden behind the walls of the palace. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk greeted the public in this place. It is like a winter garden surrounded with glass. In harmony with this kiosk, there is a crystal piano. It is a Paris-made Gaveau piano. Its chair is crystal, too.”
Another piano in the palace is a plain black German-made Steinway. Bişgin said its sound was very strong and it was very valuable.
“It was produced as a Hamburg Steinway in 1912. Then the factory moved to the U.S. Accordingly, there were only five Steinway pianos made in Germany. This is one of them. Its estimated price is 200,000 euros. It also has the emblem of the sultan Abdulmecid,” Bişgin added.
Speaking of the piano, which was used during the acceptance of ambassadors in the Süfera Hall, Bişgin said, “Süfera is the plural of the word sefir [ambassador]. This hall was created to address foreigners. The furniture is gold-plated; the ceiling is the same. There is a boulle-work piano here to show the beauty of metal and gold. This piano is wonderful for decoration.”
More pictures at Pianos in harmony with palace halls – ARTS.