What I Listen To

Music has a vital place in my life. I listen to music almost every day. I always listen to something while I work, read, rest or even right before I go to sleep.

My interest in music began around the same time as my poetry adventure. I was just 15 years old. I left the room that I shared with my older brother and got settled in the small living room for myself. That small room turned into my little world after I closed the doors. I had a vintage stereo in my room. The private radios had just started to broadcast at that time. You could not come across a different station every time you turned the radio tuner. I listened to whatever I could find, which I then liked, especially Rock and Pop music, within the limited number of radio channels. I was also writing poetry essays and listening to music at the same time.

For instance, the lines below are from those times.

On a winter night of a far away forest
Frost falls on the bodies of the trees
And I get frost on my hands here out of loneliness
I wish I were a tree in that forest
Went on and froze
But I wish there were thousands of lives
Around me, with their branches touching my branches
With the knowledge of the pain and hope within me
I am in the bushiest one of the forests
But the branches do not touch, what to do
I still await with my arms open
Maybe someone
Some people
Some day

1994

But there was not a specific genre of music that I listened to, until one night, I was going through the radio frequencies again and came across this music on TRT3…

This piece above that you listened to got me hooked within seconds and I immediately started recording it on a cassette. The melody was calling to my soul, drawing me in. And as I listened, I was also wondering the name of the song, whose song it was, and my curiosity was satisfied when TRT3 gave the details of the piece at the end. This wonderful work of art was the Adagio of Albinonni…

And thus my Classical Western Music adventure started with this piece. Later, I have listened to this recording hundreds of times over and over again.

I wrote the following lines for Adagio:

I was looking for the one with no ending
The one that would not die away
Finally I found his music
Now the emptiness is filled with notes
Life is more meaningful

Then, I started listening to TRT3 all the time. Turns out, this was the music I had been looking for; then I rapidly opened up to the sea of classical music. I call it sea, as it is such a vast musical culture that you are likely to explore something new at any moment. New composers, new pieces; it is like an endless source…

The more I listened, the composers and pieces started pouring in one after the other. For instance, let’s continue with one of the composers that I also discovered during that time.

Yes, this wonderful work of Rodrigo’s used to be one of the pieces that I listened to the most at that time. But I did not discover this piece on the radio, but with an album that my older sister had brought back for me from abroad. Later on, when I found out that Deniz Gezmiş’s last wish was to listen to this concerto before his execution and that Rodrigo’s wife was of Turkish descent, it felt much more meaningful to me.

Of course, Chopin was the one who taught me how magical the instrument called the piano was. Especially his nocturnes were my musts. Sometimes I only listened to Chopin’s nocturnes for hours at a time.

TRT3 was a truly beautiful channel. It did not only play wonderful music, but also provided much information about music. I was starting to get to know the interpreters as well thanks to TRT3. And that is how I found out about Sviatoslav Richter. The Chopin interpretation above is his

Speaking of Chopin, I must mark down my following two lines

I like Chopin
And Chopin likes me.

Surely, the first in line should be Rachmaninoff when it is about the piano and Richter. This concerto might be the concerto that I have listened to the most for my entire life. Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 of course has a very special place. But for some reason, Concerto No. 2 left a mark in me even more. Especially the adagio section; whenever I listened to that section, I felt like there were butterflies in my soul, and all the butterflies in my soul took off when that section of the concerto began.

I could certainly not skip this after mentioning Rachmaninoff and also Concerto No. 3. Experts consider Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3 to be the hardest piano concerto to play for a soloist. You can also easily notice it while listening to the recording above. This recording belongs to David Helfgot, the world-famous pianist who went nuts while playing RACH-3.

His life was covered in the great movie called Shine, which is also a masterpiece in terms of drama and music as well. I would highly recommend Shine to those who have not seen it.

I did squeeze in a movie recommendation but I believe it would be a huge void if we were to mention this concerto and skip the movie. By the way, I would also like to state that I am proud to have seen David Helfgot with my own mortal eyes some years ago in Istanbul playing RACH3

One should have such friends whom they feel have your back while you go on your path. Here, I should mention my dear friend Bülent Akyol who has kept me company in my musical adventure, because both of us started having a passion for Classical Music around the same time. We recorded the pieces that we heard and liked on TRT3 on cassettes and then exchanged our cassettes. We were just high schoolers then. I remember many times when Bülent came running with a cassette in his hand and said, “Look, I discovered this composer, he/she has this amazing piece you absolutely must hear”. And I would share my discoveries with him and we always conversed about music. These conversations would become so intense that our other friends with us would complain and reproached us saying we should also talk about other stuff.

I remember one day, Bülent and I had gone fishing in our summer house. Even though I had listened to many pieces from Beethoven, I had never heard Moonlight. Internet was not so widespread then. You could not just search a piece you were curious about on the net and instantly listen to it. And it was not easy to find albums, either. And if it was a Classical Music piece, it was even harder to find.

And our summer house is in Teos, and at this point, we should mention Anacreon. Why Anacreon? Because Anacreon is from Teos, and my meeting with Anacreon was thanks to the Fisherman of Halicarnassus. He talks about Anacreon from Teos in his book called the Anatolian Gods. An ancient poet from Teos naturally caught my attention and I researched him, but still, I had a difficult time finding resources because the internet was not so widespread then. To sum up, back to the story; that day, Bülent and I went fishing to the summer house, even though it was a rainy day. Our plan was to stay the night and go fishing early in the morning.

And of course, we would be sitting on the patio at the summer house, listen to TRT3 on our old tape player and talk music all night long. It was pretty scratchy when I turned on the station. When the first notes were heard from the small speakers of the old tape player, Bülent cried “Moonlight” with excitement. And because I had never heard it, I tried to pick out the music from the scratching. It was such a clear melody that it was impossible not to distinguish it. The weather had turned partly cloudy after rainy. Lucky for us, it was full moon that night and the moon came out between the clouds and smiled at us once in a while, while Moonlight was on the radio, we remained quiet and listened…

The above recording was how I learned how the human voice could be so beautiful within the orchestra music. And something that I wrote while listening to this piece:

The voice of the soprano in my ears
Something flows within
The sound of my feelings turn into music
Music is how I get myself

Of course, the symphony format has a significant place in classical music. And my listening to symphonies started with Tchaikovsky. The piece below is also the first symphony that I have ever listened to live in my life. I think I listened to this one from the İzmir State Symphony Orchestra around 1996-97.

By the way, I must also mention my first concert experience. Somehow, while my dear friend Bülent and I kept discovering new composers and listening to classical music like crazy, we were a little late in thinking to listen to this amazing music live.

When we found out right at that moment that this was a symphony orchestra in İzmir and that there was a concert every Friday night on a regular basis, we were extremely happy. The recording below is the first concerto that I have ever listened to live. Again, a Tchaikovsky.

I should actually turn off the 5th symphony to copy the violin concerto right now as I am writing this but it is such a flowing piece. I will not turn it off, at least not before the first part is over.

I remember trying to catch my breath when I realized I was out of it for holding it throughout the concert. As for Bülent, he later said that he was about to have a heart attack from excitement while we were listening

Bolero was a piece that I listened to a lot once. I watched a movie once, there was a scene where they talked about making love with Bolero. I remember telling my girlfriend about it. It is a work with beautiful memories for me.

Yes, we have finally arrived at Brahms. No doubt that it is one of the top composer to have pulled at my heartstrings. The recording above is number 4 of the Hungarian Dances. If possible, do not die before you have listened to all of them

Moving on with the wonderful work above from the same years. The name of the work means Gypsy Airs. With the interpretation of Itzhak Perlman, the famous violinist. And the violin in this artist’s hand is a Stradivarius. No, I did not misspell it  This name is just not the name of a store chain. It is also the name of a Violinist family in Italy in the 1600’s. This value of this violin is measured with millions of Dollars.

And Perlman got this instrument from Yehudi Menuhin, also a big violinist who was his master.

And I would like to proudly state that I had the honor of listening to Perlman in Istanbul with his Stradivarius.

Of course, I did not just listen to classical music. The piece above is a work from those years that has a lot of memory in me and that I love. A piece of this quality is sadly hard to come by these days. I listened to this a lot when I broke up with my first girlfriend.

I was going to college in Salihli, and staying at a state dorm in Alaşehir. We shuttled between Salihli and Alaşehir every day with my dear friend Cüneyt Özdemir, who is also the architect of this site and contributed his efforts in the publication of Anacreon on the social media. There were 2 kilometers between the dorm where we stayed in Alaşehir and the main road, and usually, my friend Cüneyt and I would walk that route together, and hitchhike the cars going toward Salihli, because of the poverty that almost all students went through, and fortunately for us, cars did stop sometimes; but unfortunately for us, usually it was the trucks that would stop  On our way back in the evenings, Cüneyt would sing this song as we approached the dorm, and I would accompany him with my crow-like voice

And the piece above has nice memories with Cüneyt and I. Cüneyt and I were roommates at the dorm. I had written the lyrics to this song under my bunkbed. Apparently my obsession with writing down poetry left and right began during that time  And now, the poems decorate my walls but on one condition; that they are all mine  and still, I never post any poems / blogs that I did not write on the social media.

The image below is from the wall of my home. Sometimes I take little photos there and post them on my social media accounts.

Dear Cüneyt and I did not only sing together, but Cüneyt also played the guitar pretty well, he even made out the melody Albinoni’s Adagio on the guitar.  We used to listen to classical music at night on our cassettes that usually we had recorded and prepared on our walkmans. Cüneyt especially listened to Vivaldi’s the Four Seasons a lot. I must share a part of this famous work that I also really like. Here is winter.

I would like to carry on with Brahms.

The recording above is the 2nd part of Brahms’ 2nd piano concerto, the whole piece is marvelous but this second part is my favorite part.

I liked Brahms so much that I magnified and framed a photo of him from a CD that Bülent had borrowed from the German Cultural Center and put it up on the wall.

Meanwhile, my dear aunt, Merve Kalelioğlu, who knows about my love for Brahms and who is a wonderful artist, penciled a portrait of that famous photo and gave it as a gift to me. This rare piece beautifies a wall at my office now and we greet each other almost every day with Brahms.

https://www.facebook.com/mervekalelioglu/

Yes, the above piece is another one of Brahms’  This time, I am sharing with you this work which is also known as the Double Concerto. Though concerto is what they usually call the orchestra works accompanying an instrument, the exception for this might be a concerto with multiple instruments as we can observe in this work.

It is high time that we have talked about Bach…

The work that you listened to above is his concerto for 2 violins which is a work of his that I really love. The violinists here are also quite valuable names. And one of them is Yehudi Menuhin whom I briefly mentioned while talking about Perlman before. This valuable violin that you see in Yehudi Menuhin’s hands is now in the hands of Perlman. Let us commemorate this wonderful person who sees art  as a hope for humanity with a Bach piece with his extraordinary interpretation…

There is a piano version of this spectacular work. Even though some works have been composed only for the violin or the piano, they can also be played with other instruments. And for that, an arrangement needs to be done on the work. This recording below belongs to FAZIL SAY, who is our world-famous PRIDE and without a doubt one of our most important brands that our country created in the field of real art.

I cannot sing
I cannot even play an instrument
I can give life to neither mud nor paint
What good am I
But just listening to life
While listening to my heart
Scribbling poems
And considering myself to be decent

Bach was a really humble person even though he was a big composer. He was surely aware of how splendid his compositions were, but he always wrote the following at the end of each one of his works. S.D.G, short for Soli Deo Gloria. That is, “GLORY TO GOD ALONE”. By the way, I will be sharing lots more details about Bach but let’s keep on listening.

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This wonderful work that you have listened to above is Matheus Passion’s Erbarme Dich (MERCY), which is one of the 4 passions of Bach. I would suggest that you pay attention to the interpreter’s concentration. He gets carried away while singing it, and maybe calls out the heaven in the distant world where he looks at. There is a story about Mendelson who went to a town one day and saw that the butcher wrapped the meat that he bought in a paper with notes on it. He bought the pile of papers which the butcher used to wrap meat for a small price, and brought them home. He did not recognize the works that saw on the papers. It was not long before he realized how beautiful of a work it was the more he read the notes. Eventually, Mendelson found out that the papers that were being used to wrap meat at the butcher’s were Bach’s 2nd Passion. Thus, that was how Matheus and Johannes Passions got saved and came to light, but the other 2 passions could not be so lucky and unfortunately got erased from history by means of being wrapped around meats by the butcher before Mendelson could discover them. It was not possible to find the 2 lost passions ever again, and only these two passions were left behind from Bach, along with many works.

Mendelson made the history of music not just by saving Bach’s 2 passions, but also by composing many wonderful works. The concerto above belongs to Mendelson and is one of my favorite violin concertos. Even though the art of music is auditory, there is also a visual dimension to it. It is surely particularly great to listen to works from performers who are beautiful themselves

These songs will never end
This wistfulness will never mend
Get up, kid!
We have much more to tend

The recording above is again, a composition by Bach. This is one of my favorite Bach works. Yes, classical music is actually a pretty difficult music genre to understand.

I even feel a little tired after listening to some works. Because I think when the brain perceives such a music genre, it might go deep down into thoughts which leads one into a sensation of rising with an intense flow of emotions. All in all, a sensation of divine integration emerges, which I cannot get anywhere else.

And this recording is the orchestral version of the work above. When I heard this work the other day at the movies in a movie called the Wild Pear Tree of Nuri Bilge Ceylan, a very important BRAND of ours in the field of cinema, first I was astonished, then I felt proud. Because I had never seen or heard this work being used in any motion picture. Long live Nuri Bilge Ceylan. He combines music with visuality beautifully. As is known, the soundtrack sector is an important branch in the field of music where many wonderful works have been composed. Even though they are no classical period works of art, they are also wonders of classical music in my eyes.

The work above belongs to John Williams, the famous soundtrack composer, and Perlman once again has the violin. Perlman playing in this work is really significant and meaningful because Perlman is a Jew and as is known, the movie “Schindler’s List” is about the atrocities of the Nazi Germany on the Jewish community.

Bach is not actually only the name of a composer. It is also the name of a family of composers. There have been a small number of families with this many skilled composers in the history of music.

It is said that the Bach family met somewhere in Germany during a certain period every year, and that they shared their works that they had composed with each other, and given that almost everybody played an instrument during that time, a crowded family could have easily created a small orchestra. I think it would suffice to say that a total of 20 children were born from Johann Sebastian Bach’s two wives to explain the size of the family. Though only 9 of these children made it into adulthood, but the majority of them have become good composers. For example, the work above is the Flute Concerto of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach’s son. But still, the most famous Bach of all times was Johann Sebastian Bach.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfLUoTBc06c

The spring weather warms me up on the inside
Playing on the radio is Sarabande
I am organizing my disheveled inside
Putting the hopes in the front
The sorrows out of the way
And the truth forward

The piece above, again a Bach : A poem of mine which I wrote while listening to Sarabande on the radio on a spring day years ago…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJcg2qo-Uuc

One of the most important properties of Bach is that he composed his music not according to the expectations or tastes of his then audience, but according to his own universal perception. Maybe that is why he got to more the generations after him, because of the innovative approach in his works after his death, even though he was not that well-known during his times, and he can still lead to the birth of new approaches with the Bach music now. The work above is one of our contemporary composers and belongs to someone who I think can be defined as an angel: Anjelika AKBAR : Daisy (İbn-i Sina Bach) By the way, the qopuz in the piece is the interpretation of our valuable artist, Erkan Oğur. The qopuz that you can hear in the piece is a 200-year-old instrument and is one of Erkan Oğur’s special instruments.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usfiAsWR4qU

I would also like to mention an important contemporary of Bach’s, having mentioned Bach as much. The recording above is, “Hallelujah”, that is, ”thank God” is Handel’s famous work. When this work was first sung in England, the King was so excited from the music that he stood up. And when he stood up, the whole hall stood up with him. So from that day on, this part of the work started to be watched standing up. Handel and Bach were born in Germany on close dates. Bach grew up Germany and stayed in Germany for all of his life, while Handel moved from Germany to Italy to England, and achieved his peak in art in England. By the way, we should also state the following. Even though today Bach is known as a major composer and Handel is obviously in his shadow, in the past, the situation was quite the contrary. Handel was a famous and rich composer during the times when these two great composers were alive, while Bach was known more as a really good church organist. By organist, I mean that Bach did not only play this enormous instrument; he would also install it and take care of all its maintenances like an engineer. The two of them wanted to meet up. As far as I can remember, Handel was going to depart from England and Bach from Germany, and meet up in France in the middle but I thing this meeting could not happen because Handel’s cataract issue flared up. Lastly, an interesting detail: Handel had a cataract operation done by the best doctor of that time, but the operation was a failure and his eyes and health deteriorated. Then, the same doctor came to Germany and this time, Bach had an operation done for the same disease by the same doctor and his operation went wrongly as well, and he passed away shortly after the operation…

Handel is not just a composer who can be mentioned for Hallelujah. I love the suite above. I have listened to the CD many times…

I feel like we have not talked about Beethoven enough. For among the trio of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, who are also the composers called the Three Big B’s, is a very important composer.

Only a few people who are not familiar with this music genre will get what you mean when you say Mahler, Dvorak, Bartok or Elgar to them. And the majority of them will even not understand whether you are talking about a classy dish or a composer. However, if you say Beethoven to someone who never even listens to classical music, they will understand that you are talking about a famous composer.

Beethoven earned his reputation, because he is one of the rare artists who have managed to be known by humanity with his works.

Because Beethoven is a person with many qualities and an innovative artist, his attributes that seemed unusual were plenty for that time. Because there have been thousands to argue the past against every innovator. But history has recorded not those defending the past; but those defending innovation. And when we hear Beethoven, his works surely are the first things to come to mind. Interestingly, the odd numbers in Beethoven’s symphonies were more successful. While the numbers 1-3-5-7-9 were more prominent among his 9 symphonies, numbers 2-4-6-8 have always been a little pale by comparison. The recording below is the Adagio Assai part of the Symphony no 3. Beethoven has dedicated this symphony to Napoleon the first time he played it. Because during that time, Napoleon came on as a Republican and avant-garde revolutionist. And remember, Beethoven is German, while Napoleon is French. Beethoven’s universal standpoint is also remarkable.

But in time, Napoleon taking all authority on himself, like it can be seen in many bossism regimes in history, and to top it off, him declaring himself an Emperor, turned Beethoven’s admiration toward Napoleon into disappointment, and even a rage, and consequently, he took away his dedication in his Symphony No. 3 from Napoleon and given it to the heroes, that is, to all of the real heroes of humanity. Everyone who listens to this part can easily feel the intensity of emotions that gradually augments as the part goes on, and the enthusiasm that peaks at one point then slowly calms down.

The same symphony
The same wine
The same intoxication
The same, always the same…
Now while it is dawning
Even though it is the same
The only difference is the new rising day
But how beautiful is the new one
I am not sick of seeing the new one
Because I have hidden different possibilities within

Beethoven is a pioneer of romanticism in music. And romanticism is even considered to have started with the 2nd part of the Piano Concerto No. 4 by some schools of classical music. The key difference between the orchestra and the piano during the intro of the work you will be listening to below is so high that this is not that common for those times, and even today. While the orchestra is pretty brutal, the piano is soft. But these contrast patterns fit so well with each other that eventually, all that is left is the sound of a piano that speaks silently. And romanticism starts with these contrast emotions. Romanticism contains love is and love is whole with contrast. That is, something brutal turns into something soft with time, and vice versa. And toward the end of the part, we hear the silent melody of the piano turn into the delirium of a person that is going berserk in same places. And here, it is as if it wants to tell us that life, which is a whole with its contrasts, is actually really variable. The most important attribute of this part is that it forges contrast so beautifully and the relationship of contrast with dialectic. The dialectic has a very significant place in my sense of poetry, since in my world of emotions, everything is possible only with the opposite. That is, there is no white without black. Even so, it would not express a color. I believe that we can see it everywhere in the human life, and even in the universe. Therefore, I think the 2nd part of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 is a peak point where music is combined with the dialectic.

With all this Beethoven talk (I will be getting back to Beethoven and all the other major composers), I would like to continue with one of the sonatas, which I think can be considered the works that are the peak of piano. Pathetic

And speaking of Beethoven, I would also like to mention a brilliant composer who was his contemporary and also a big Beethoven fan. Although Schuberth passed away at a pretty young age, he managed to fill his short life with many wonderful works. He died about a year after Beethoven and it is said that his will was to be buried near him. However, this was not possible with his death, and he was buried far away from Beethoven, until the Viennese authorities wanted to pull up the graveyard together. I do not know it was because his will was recalled or because Schubert was appreciated after his death, but Schubert got his wish 50 years after his death, and his grave was moved to be next to Beethoven.

The work above is Schubert’s Wanderer, and the interpreter is the legendary pianist, Sviatoslav Richter. Meanwhile, maybe the title of Wanderer would suit really Bach because he went everywhere on foot, and he even went on hundreds of kilometers of journeys on foot

The piano is such a special instrument that it can be played by multiple people in some cases. One of the best examples of this is the Fantasy in F Minor above which was composed for four hands. Again, a Schubert. It is one of my favorite songs among the piano works.

The unfinished symphony is without a doubt one of the most popular and beautiful works of the classical music literature, and has the signature of our Beethoven-fan friend, Schubert under it. While the exact reason why the composer did not complete the work still remains unknown today, it even impresses the listeners with its unfinished state. Meanwhile, we should also state that this is Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 and that he also composed and completed a Symphony No. 9 after that. It is the only incomplete symphony among his 9 symphonies, and it is not common to have a composer with an unfinished work in the world of classical music. Usually, nearing their death, composer wish all of their remaining notes to be burnt. I would like to add something else about this recording. The conductor here is Herbert Von Karajan, who is considered by many authorities to be one of the greatest maestros ever in the world. Remember that name, for the works that were played by the orchestras that he conducted have always been the best interpretations, but it would be wrong to just mention the name of this maestro. Even though he has been criticized for all of his life for being a member of the Nazi Party, he always managed to cover up his fault with his art. And he was also an extremely arrogant person who has many stories about this quality of his.

This black and white recording above is the best interpretation of Elgar’s cello concerto, which is my favorite cello concerto. My expression of “the best interpretation” might seem quite assertive to you, but it is also considered by some notable authorities in the field of music to be the best ever Elgar interpretation. And the cellist is Jacquline du Pre, and the maestro is the dear man of art, Daniel Barenboim, Du Pre’s husband. This work was composed by Elgar, who is one of the most significant names of the English music, right after the end of World War I. It is Elgar’s final big work.  It is said that while creating this piece, Elgar saw that his own sense of music was losing its validity more and more in the world and thus created a more sorrowful piece. Because during those times, romanticism had ended and new pages had opened up in music. In this concerto, Elgar reflected his weary feelings that integrated with the effect of the devastating war that he witnessed.

This concerto is one of the top works that have gotten to me the most among the English music. Even though the intense sorrow within the work expresses weary feelings and giving up everything; it evokes within me the sense to go on with life as we know just in spite of anything to come along. All in all, I must admit that I fall within a profound sorrow whenever I listen to this concerto. But it is such a sorrow, it does not destroy you, but a bizarre state of feeling that in a way makes you enjoy pain, like a melancholy wears you out.

It is unknown whether Du Pre’s interpretation of this concerto in such a beautiful manner is because she was from the same culture as Elgar or because Du Pre was a person with intense passions like Elgar, but if Du Pre has emotions as intense as told in the movie from 1998 named “Hilary and Jackie” which is about Du Pre’s life, then maybe one should not be surprised by how beautifully she interprets this concerto, which is a pretty intense emotional work.

Du Pre unfortunately had to say goodbye to the cello with the MS that got a hold of her at only 27 years old, when she was at the peak of her career and earned fame, and this precious talent passed away at 42. And many precious interpretations were left behind from her, like the recording above. Sections from Du Pre’s life and a happy moment with her husband are shared in the last 1 minute of the video above.

I have to mention Du Pre’s instrument right here. Yes, also a Stradivaryus. And one of the most valuables Stradivaryus cellos that have made it to our days. Du Pre was given this instrument just at the beginning of her career, and she used this instrument in all of the important recordings. The instrument was adopted by Yo-Yo Ma after her death. Yo-Yo Ma uses this instrument in some recordings and his concerts. Yo-Yo Ma is also one of the most important cellists alive in our times.

It would be unfair to not include an interpretation of his. We are listening a Yo-Yo Ma with a wonderful Bach work below.

I have so far shared composers from the classical era in general. But I would also like to include some works from our days. Because if we carry on with the classical era composers, I do not know how many more composers and works I would have to mention, believe me  therefore, I would like to move on with the contemporary composer, Fazıl Say, who is the pride of our nation in the field of polyphonic music. And with the composition of a Nazım Hikmet poem. Fazıl Say unfortunately cannot perform this piece often as a pretty solid choir is also needed along with the orchestra. Therefore, it is not always possible to listen to this work live. I would particularly like to state how lucky I consider myself because I listened to the work last year in Istanbul live. Nazım Hikmet is undoubtedly one of the most important poets of the Turkish Literature, I have read almost all of Nazım’s poems in my youth, but now I think, I failed to understand all of them… Because some feelings cannot be fully understood in youth. In order to understand some poems, some things have to have been experienced first… That is, when you say ABOUT LIFE: some pain, loads of hopes, a little bit of disappointment, much effort, some deception, plenty of love and passion, some lies and many truths… That is, TO BE ABLE TO SAY I LIVED…

Speaking of the Turkish composers, we must also speak of the Turkish Five before changing the subject. And these five are: First, they coincidentally all have two names like all of our big poets

  • Hasan Ferit Alnar
  • Ulvi Cemal Erkin
  • Ahmet Adnan Saygun
  • Necil Kazım Akses
  • Cemal Reşit Rey

For now, I would just like to mention Hasan Ferit Alnar. I will be mentioning our other composers later. Unlike the other members of the group, Hasan Ferit Alnar is the only person to have received polyphonic Western music as well as Classical Turkish Music. I believe that it was how Alnar managed to embrace a more distinct timber in his works. Below is the only qanun concerto in the world. Yes, you read it right: a QANUN CONCERTO. We always listen to violin or piano concertos but the Qanun is an instrument, too, and it has a pretty special timber when played with the orchestra as you can hear. The composer and performer, Hasan Ferit Alnar:

Adnan Menderes, the amorist president of the time, had an affair with Mrs. Ayhan, Alnar’s wife who was an opera singer, and as a result, Alnar broke up with his wife. Then, our composer was deeply affected when he lost his son who was only 15 years old at a sorrowful accident. I do not know why but Hasan Ferit Alnar is the only composer among the Turkish Fives who was not given a State Artist Honor. He eventually married for the second time with Mrs. Sevin of Austrian origin, and they lived together until 1978 when he passed away.

Hasan Ferit Alnar is also one of the first Turkish Orchestra conductors in addition to being a composer. When he first took the stage as a conductor in 1936, the Ankara audience who saw a Turkish maestro before them for the first time gave him a long standing ovation. Alnar had to turn to the audience and thank them 9 times until the applaud subsided, and the applauds only subsided after the 9th thanks, after which he was able to begin the concert. Alnar said in an interview later that it was the best day of his life. He conducted about 2000 renditions during his life as a conductor.

But I would also like to add another topic which saddens me deeply. No one took claim for Hasan Ferit Alnar’s qanun after his death, and an antique dealer got a hold of this precious qanun. I do not know the current fate of the qanun  I wish that I could say that this artist has Alnar’s qanun like I talked about the Stradivarius’ above… But I cannot. Now we should stop right here and think… You know, people do not like classical music that much because they say it is Western literature, and they do not claim it that much, but QANUN is a genuine Turkish Music instrument Alnar’s qanun concerto is the only one in the world! Why would no one protect this qanun!…
Why is art such an orphan in our country? It is impossible to understand…