Japanese grand piano, gifted to Arafat in 1997, performs on in Gaza

In 1997, the Japanese authorities provided a grand piano, a product of the Japanese firm Yamaha, as a present to late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, along with different musical devices, comparable to a cello, violin, clarinet, saxophone, and different aerophone and percussion devices to entrench Palestinians’ cultural values, together with music, three years after the institution of the Palestinian National Authority in 1994.

Yamaha is likely one of the largest musical devices’ manufacturing firms on the planet, and its merchandise are distinguished by custom and luxurious. It relies within the Japanese metropolis of Hamamatsu.

Due to its massive dimension and cultural symbolism, the grand piano was positioned within the Roman theater inside al-Nawras resort within the northern Gaza Strip in 1997. The piano survived the bombing of the Roman theater in three devastating Israeli navy operations in 2008, 2012 and 2014.

The Belgian Music Fund mission headed by Lukas Pairon, which is specialised in sustaining musical devices, has maintained the grand piano a number of occasions. Yamaha performed upkeep on the piano in 2018.

After the harmful Israeli navy operations ended and the grand piano was critically broken in consequence, the Palestinian Ministry of Culture discovered it essential to move the piano to a secure place. It was thus transferred to the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in 2018 underneath an settlement between the Palestinian Ministry of Culture and the conservatory.

Al-Monitor’s staff went to test on the grand piano and located it inside a secure room removed from the principle road of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music within the heart of Gaza City. The institute is situated contained in the Palestinian Red Crescent constructing, near an elementary college run by the UN refugee company for Palestine refugees, UNRWA. This strategic location makes it troublesome to focus on the place by navy operations, as worldwide conventions and treaties forbid the bombing of well being services, such because the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Atef Asqoul, director of the Creative and Arts Department on the Palestinian Ministry of Culture, advised Al-Monitor, “The Palestinian Ministry of Culture pays great attention to the grand piano because of its symbolism as a precious gift from Japan and its role in learning to play music. It was moved from one place to another to shield it from the traces of war. Previously, the Roman theater in al-Nawras resort housed it, and it miraculously survived the bombing of the resort at the beginning of the 2014 war. The Gaza Strip lacks spacious halls, theaters and music institutes, so it was placed in the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music to allow the institute to spread musical culture and train musical cadres to master the piano.

He said, “The grand piano represents the pain and sorrows of the Palestinian people. It came as a gift to the Palestinians to bring music and happiness, but it faced three devastating and difficult wars. For that reason, we moved it to a safe place, which is the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. However, will the next Israeli military operations spare the grand piano? Just as we wish for the grand piano to be safe, we want the pianist and all Palestinian people to be safe as well.”

Asqoul defined that one of many causes that prompted the Palestinian Ministry of Culture to put the grand piano on the conservatory is its musical identification and secure surroundings. In addition, it’s unlikely to be focused in navy operations. He famous that the settlement between the Ministry of Culture and the conservatory allowed all musical establishments to make use of the piano or study on it, as it’s not a person’s property however fairly it belongs to your entire Palestinian individuals.

Ismail Daoud, who holds a doctorate in musicology, pressured the significance of music for the person and society, as it’s the language of human emotion. He highlighted its position in refining, treating and elevating the soul.

He advised Al-Monitor, “If you want to learn about the cultural identity of a people, you should look at their art. There are several factors that led to the stagnation of the development of the art of music in the Gaza Strip, mainly the lack of security, recurring wars and multiple humanitarian crises that affected all aspects of life.”

He defined that these causes could be addressed by safety, jobs and monetary stability that may make the artwork of music a precedence for most of the people, because it is likely one of the primary wants that contact the religious facet of the human being.

Daoud famous, “The grand piano is the largest piano in Gaza. The bigger the piano, the sweeter, the more beautiful and louder its sound. The grand piano is a symbol of music. It portrays refinement, strength and greatness. When the Japanese government gave the Palestinian people this piano, they were in a state of civilizational and cultural prosperity, and it marked the beginning of the Palestinian Authority mandate.”

When requested in regards to the musical institutes within the Gaza Strip, Daoud stated that the institutes are restricted to the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, Palestinian Center for Music, Sayed Darwish Institute and Sununu Establishment.

Ibrahim al-Najjar, director of the Palestinian Center for Music, was current when the grand piano arrived in 1997. He advised Al-Monitor that the grand piano is taken into account probably the most lovely piano in Gaza, regardless of the presence of pianos bearing different manufacturers as effectively.  

Julia Abu Namous, music coach on the Edward Said Conservatory since 2016, advised Al-Monitor, “The grand piano is one of the most important pillars of the institute and its most prominent feature. Students from the Gaza Strip who receive piano training showed great enthusiasm to play the grand piano because it is different from other pianos available in Gaza due to its luxury and quality, and the melodies’ exits differ from the exits of other traditional pianos.”

She noted, “When they start playing, they imitate Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Bach, Yanni and other great international musicians who played the piano,” emphasizing the necessity to concentrate to music, particularly the piano.