Music in berlin: a bit of taksim in kreuzberg

Pianist Davide Martello played between the fronts in Istanbul in June. On Wednesday evening, he also gave goosebumps on Berlin’s Oranienplatz.

Davide Martello at the grand piano on Oranienplatz. Photo: dpa

Davide Martello simply pushed his black electric grand piano onto Taksim Square, between the stones and the rubble, between policemen and demonstrators. He started to play, "Imagine" by John Lennon, something like that. People gathered around him.

They took off their helmets. They listened, they sang along. Peaceful hours that contrasted so strongly with the turmoil in Istanbul before and after that some began to cry. Overnight, the German pianist became a hero for many in Turkey.

On Wednesday, the black grand piano is out in the open again, this time in Kreuzberg on Oranienplatz. It is a balmy evening. Hundreds have come spontaneously. They have settled on yellow garbage bags on the sandy ground and form a large circle around the instrument. Young and old, migrants, tourists, ethnic German Kreuzberg ecos. Cyclists stop. Even the increasingly gaunt Christian Strobele sits on a bench.

Martello, a slender young man in a blue T-shirt and hat, bends over the keys. Partly it is tender, melancholy melodies that waft across the square. Then the music sounds strong and decisive again. As in Istanbul, Martello plays "Imagine". And one has the feeling, for a moment, to feel the energy from there here as well.

"Freedom in all places of this world"

Martello comes from Constance. He tours the world with his grand piano and was just in Sofia when he heard about the Istanbul protests. He decided to play there. "The atmosphere was gigantic. All the aggression was simply gone," he says in retrospect.

The concert in Taksim Square always resonates in Oranienplatz. Between songs, the audience claps and jeers. Some young Berliners shout loudly in Turkish: "Taksim is everywhere, everywhere is resistance" and raise their fists in the air. Only to fall silent immediately at the first soft notes of the pianist. A touching interplay.

In other contexts, Martello’s music might be considered kitschy. It would probably also be suitable as background droning in a hotel lobby. But on this evening in the middle of Kreuzberg, it is simply beautiful. And serious. After all, Martello was part of a movement that is about something big. About rights, about democracy. That gives the pianist a significance that points far beyond himself.

"Freedom in all the squares of this world," someone shouts from behind. And you realize how special Oranienplatz is, too. Refugees have been camping here for months. This would hardly be possible on any other square in the republic. And now, on the other side of Oranienstrasse, this concert, quiet and rebellious at the same time.

After more than two hours, when it already begins to dawn blue, Martello finally stops playing. He climbs on his stool, stretches his hands in the air with the Victory sign and falls into the Taksim shouts. For a moment, things get militant one more time. Then the activists collect the garbage bags.