Historical photographs

Eastward Piano / Historical Photographs

Pianistic discographical repertoire is detected with certainty in the following countries: Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Iran. It is relatively safe to assume that their neighbours have at their disposal similar material. A common characteristic of this geographical area, despite the large diaspora, is the major role played by musical modeness, which emerges as a link for the aforementioned traditions. When the piano infiltrates these traditions, either participating in an orchestra or solo, not only does it oblige us to re-evaluate the boundaries between ‘western’ and ‘eastern’ music, but also their supposed opposition within an especially charged polarizability. It also allows us to deconstruct all kinds of exoticisms (orientalism – occidentalism), revealing evidence of a creative coexistence, which transcends conventional borders and cultural stereotypes.

One of the fundamental stereotypes which is put to the test by the heterotopias of the piano is the opposition between scholarly and popular musicians. Even in traditions where the piano is relatively inaccessible, the artists do not hesitate to borrow practices and ‘dialects’ phenomenally unfamiliar in order to express themselves creatively. Indeed, in many cases these same artists record repertoires which originate from both categories.

A broad spectrum of piano pieces recorded ‘eastwards’ could be considered as an extensive network, which brings geographically and culturally isolated places closer together. The way in which music that is borrowed and lent circulates in this form is not always a direct neighbouring route, but rather its roundabout nature of travel and immigration, and especially the new means, the radio, cinema and of course discography (see for example the recordings of rembetiko in America and those of Jewish musicians in Tunisia). This circumlocutory motion gives birth to revolution, since it transcends geographical borders and ‘de-territorializes’ repertoires, affording the piano new roles in new places.

By clicking on the name of the country, you can see photographic material of historical pianists of each region. Here, distinction by nation-state is often imprecise and is purely for practical reasons. Many protagonists were active during periods when borders and political powers were undergoing change.