Dallam's Travels with an Organ to the Grand Signieur, 1599-1600
By: Thomas Dallam (c 1570-)
Queen Elizabeth the First of England, the Grand Turk at Constantinople, and an organ builder named Thomas Dallam—quite a trio. In 1599, Elizabeth commanded master organ builder Dallam to construct and deliver to the Grand Signieur , as a present intended to garner trade and political advantages for England, a fantastic mechanical organ. Dallam’s wonder stood 16 feet high and was topped by a silver holly bush filled with blackbirds and thrushes that sung and shook their wings. Dallam kept a diary during his visit to Turkey, which included a sneak look through a grate at the Grand Turk’s concubines in the harem. “I stood so long looking upon them that (the guide) stamped with his foot to make me give over looking; the which I was very loath to do, for that sight did please me wondrous well.” Dallam’s ingenuous style and numerous adventures make for a highly enjoyable listen.