Why German Musician Davide Martello Played his Grand Piano in the Middle of Taksim Square During the Protests

The World

German piano player entertains protesters in Taksim square. (Photo:REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

You may have seen this photo last week. It's of a man, dressed in a red shirt, wearing a fedora, playing piano in Istanbul's Taksim Square. German musician Davide Martello had loaded his grand piano on a trailer and towed it 300 miles from Sofia, Bulgaria.

"I'd seen the TV violence — insane violence — in Turkey," Martello told the BBC. "And I couldn't understand why. And I just came to spread peace with my piano."

He set up his piano at the edge of Gezi park on Wednesday, June 12th. The next night, hundreds of people gathered 'round. And not just protesters. Martello says police officers sat down to listen to him play. "Yes," he said, "and the policemen and the people there were mixed, the first time. So they were all together, and talking about what's going on for this moment, but just only for this moment."

Reality check, here. This is the same place we all saw being hosed down by water cannon.

But Martello says he felt safe. "And even the policemen came and said 'Hey, you are very good.' In Turkish."

Martello played a marathon concert — at least 13 hours. Then on Saturday, he set up his piano again when police began to clear Taksim Square. "And suddenly the tear gas was coming," he said, "and I didn't breathe anymore and I had to run away."

Martello got away. But his piano was taken into custody. He got it back from authorities Tuesday, June 18th.

Davide Martello says he wants to play his grand piano in every capital of the world. Taksim Square was more of a side trip. But he says he's glad he went.

"This is my first experience like that, in Taksim, and I see the reaction of the people," he told the BBC. "I want to use this piano to get peace. I can use music to change the mind of the people. It's an unusual way, but I think it works.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.