Republic era's first pianos under restoration
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Jobe said he came to Ankara three years ago to take concert records from internationally acclaimed pianist İdil Biret, when he was informed about the pianos in the conservatory.
Lausanne Music School and Conservatory Head of Piano Department, Joel Jobe, will revive 60-70 year old pianos owned by Hacettepe University Ankara State Conservatory, one of Turkey’s first conservatories established in 1936.
Speaking of the importance of renovating of old pianos, Jobe said that as well as reviving the instruments, he was discovering the production methods of the past.
Jobe said he restored pianos dating back to 1830s. Among the most impressive piano he has worked on is the current project carried out with the Ankara State Conservatory, said Jobe.
He said he had come to Ankara three years ago to take concert records from internationally acclaimed pianist İdil Biret, when he was informed about the pianos in the conservatory. “The project started last year with one piano and now six pianos have been restored,” he added.
Jobe said the oldest piano in the conservatory was from the 1940s. “When I saw the pianos for the first time, I found them very tired. It is actually a miracle that they can still be functional. And students here are very brave because they work with these troubled pianos. However, these pianos were of high quality at first, but they had been destroyed through time,” he added.
He said they had to understand the damage in the pianos before starting the restoration and then the pianos were dismantled after the documenting and photographing processes. He said they tried to find the original material to get the same wood and metal quality. “Later on, the piano undergoes a long testing process,” he said.
Jobe said he had previously worked with renowned musicians Emre Şen and Fazıl Say. “I see the artists believe in what they are doing and appreciate their efforts. Even though Say and Biret are artists of a different generation, I see the same passion,” he said.
Restored pianos in use
The director of the conservatory, Professor Metin Munzur, provided information about the piano restoration process of the Ankara State Conservatory, which is a flagship of Turkish musical life.
Munzur said that among Steinway pianos, which were bought for the conservatory in 1965, nearly 15 pianos still survived, but most were defunct because of neglect. “Their worth may be up to 500,000 liras. So we wanted to reevaluate them rather than throw them away,” he said.
The professor said the project started with the restoration of seven Steinway and four Yamaha pianos. “This is the first time in Turkey for such a comprehensive restoration project. With this project, we will save 11 grand pianos for the price of one to two grand pianos,” he added.
Munzur said the project had a cost of 265,000 liras and four Steinway pianos were restored and being used in the conservatory, adding that Jobe’s work was being observed by local technicians and the university was gaining valuable experience.