After Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the Ottoman Empire continued to expand over the next century until it controlled Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Eastern Hungary, Moldavia, Wallachia, Transylvania, the Caucasus, Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis.
But after the Turks were repeatedly repulsed from the gates of Vienna in a series of battles between 15, Western Europe’s fear of the Ottomans was gradually replaced by an appreciation of Turkish culture and a desire for all things Turkish.
Western military experts had long recognized the value of loud battlefield music to intimidate the enemy and to bolster morale among one’s own troops.
Also, sound can convey orders and help direct troop movements under fire.
It’s not unusual for war veterans and museums to collect souvenirs from the battlefield.
However, the most unique collection from the battlefield probably occurred when an entire mehterhane (a Turkish marching band) was sent from the battlefield of the Ottoman Empire wars for the collection of a European King.
Upon observing many battles in which bands were used, Western generals realized that no instrumental ensemble could match the loud, high, ear-piercing wind notes, played in monophonic unison by Turkish bands accompanied by the precise and powerful beats of African slave drummers.
Traveling bands The instruments of this “Constantinople Janissary music,” as it was known, varied between battle and ceremonial settings.
How was this Turkish music embraced by the West, which had so long been threatened by the Turks’ military might?This display started the demand for Turkish marching bands, which then spread to Russia, Germany, and France.By the 1770s, they captivated all of Western Europe.At that point, Janissary instruments were sent to European royal courts as diplomatic gifts from Constantinople.
The Turkish Sultan Ahmed III sent Augustus II, King of Poland, a fully represented Ottoman Empire band during the early part of the 18th century.Also, the Austro-Hungarian military band was founded in 1741 when the Chevalier von der French marched into Vienna at the head of his troops but preceded by a band from Turkey in full regalia.