The cacophonous history of the Ottoman band of Jerusalem

Thursday 4 April 2019,
BP Lecture Theatre
Free, booking essential

Phone +44 (0)20 7323 8181
Ticket Desk in Great Court

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What can a photograph tell us about what the past sounded like? As it turns out, quite a lot. Michael Talbot, University of Greenwich, will explore the visual record of the band of the Ottoman military garrison in Jerusalem at the turn of the 20th century.

While official narratives in the press in Palestine praised the band as providing the patriotic soundtrack to state celebrations, photographs of them in action - and the reactions of their audiences - tell a rather different story. Zooming in on the details hidden in these wonderful photographs, we can move beyond the formal portraits and gushing prose of the propaganda of the state and think about what it might have been like to be in the crowd for formal state celebrations. Using a mix of photographs, newspapers, and musical recordings from over a century ago, the story of the Ottoman military band of Jerusalem allows us to see the history of that city and its populace in the late Ottoman period from a new angle.

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State visit to Jerusalem of Wilhelm II of Germany in 1898. Turkish military brass band in procession to German camp, American Colony of Jerusalem Photo Department, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.