Sunday, May 07, 2006

Laterna of Istanbul

It is quite possible that laterna music will be included in Costak | Sources CD and will influence the soundtrack of the film.

Istanbul Laternasi: nostalgic music from the old times

According to author Cemal Unlu, the laterna traveled from Turkey to Greece in 1923. Some excerpts (edited and condensed):

The laterna, a mechanical instrument which repeated programmed melodies, first appeared in Istanbul at the end of the 19th century. This type consisted of the laterna and a "civili laterna" (laterna with pins). The civili laterna was a model developed by the Swiss Aristide Janivier in 1776.

A Leventine [one born in an eastern Mediterranean land] by the name of Guiseppe Turconi began to sell laternas which he imported from Italy to his shop in Istanbul. Naturally these laternas were programmed to play Italian melodies and waltzes. Most of the laterna masters were primarily Istanbulites who migrated to Greece after the population exchange of 1923. (Fearing Turkish reprisals, an estimated 50,000 Greeks fled Istanbul following the Asia Minor Campaign of 1919 and the Greek destruction of Turkish Smyrna (Izmir) in 1922. The Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 caused even more Greeks to flee, even though Istanbul was specifically exempt from the population exchange.) In taverns in the countryside and in Greek religious festivals, the laterna constituted the mainstay of musical entertainment, replacing performances by live musical ensembles.

In Pire, Istanbul-born Nikos Armaos dedicated his life to this instrument and was probably the greatest master of all time. Thus the Istanbul laterna came to life again in Athens, Greece. Nikos Armaos organized, collected and made new arrangements of many zeybek and kasap melodies. He added some "2,000 works, of which the majority were his own compositions that were not drawn from songs", by attaching pins. Nikos Armaos was recorded on two LP records in Greece; he died in Athens in May 1979 at the age of 90.

Label reads: Giuseppe Turconi Fabricante Pianoforti Ed Cilindro 1900

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