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The Fascinating History of An Ornate Piano Found on a World War II Battlefield

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This story from Atlas Obscura is especially incredible to any reader who’s ever tried to physically transport a piano.

In 1942, after driving the German forces out of El Alamein in northern Egypt, British troops went minesweeping and—surprisingly, one can only imagine—heard music come out of the ground. Buried beneath the sand was a piano, encased in plaster, and its strings had vibrated in response to the magnets of the minesweepers. For reasons no one could divine, the Nazis had lugged this instrument through the Libyan Desert all the way to El Alamein, before abandoning it upon retreat.

Whether out of curiosity, appreciation, or sheer indifference, the British opted not to destroy the instrument and lugged it themselves to Tel Aviv, where they unloaded it rather unceremoniously, without peeking inside the plaster. We can’t know for sure why they didn’t just discard it, though we can be glad: It was no ordinary piano, but the famous, ornately decorated Siena Pianoforte, also known as the Harp of David, to list just two of its acquired titles. Nearly 80 years after it was pulled out of the sand, the adventurous piano recently sold for $320,000 at Winner’s Auctions in Jerusalem.

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