Sultan Composers

 Leaving aside the political personalities of the Ottoman ruler-composer, the album offers a view of their musical achievement.  A valuable piece for your collection. (Booklet included.) We ship it to anywhere in the world within one business day, Click Here Now to Claim Yours.


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1- Fatih-i Bagdat 2'00'' Sample
2- Tanbur Taksimi 1'39'' Sample
3- Suzidilara Pesrev 3'50'' Sample
4- Suzidilara Beste 5'52'' Sample
5- Suzidilara Agir Semai 4'22'' Sample
6- Suzidilara Yuruk Semai 4'27'' Sample
7- Huzzam Sarki 2'40'' Sample
8- Kemence Taksimi 1'00'' Sample
9- Hicaz Sarki 1'34'' Sample
10- Hicaz Kalender 3'22'' Sample
11- Kanun Taksimi 1'30'' Sample
12- Hisarbuselik Sarki 1'29'' Sample
13- Mahur Sarki 4'45'' Sample
14- Ney Taksimi 0'52'' Sample
15- Sevkefza Sarki 1'53'' Sample
16- Muhayyer Sarki 4'54'' Sample
17- Kanun Taksimi 1'28'' Sample
18- Evc Agir Semai 4'32'' Sample
19- Ney Taksimi 0'55'' Sample
20- Rast Sarki 4'45'' Sample
21- Huzzam Sarki 3'27'' Sample
22- Kemence Taksimi 0'55'' Sample
23- Rast Sarki 2'10'' Sample
24- Ussak Sarki 2'17'' Sample
25- Kanun Taksimi 1'25'' Sample
26- Suzidil Sarki 2'56'' Sample
27- Kurdi Pesrev 4'20'' Sample
28- Mahur Saz Semaisi 2'40'' Sample
29- Kanun Taksimi 1'28'' Sample
30- Nihavend Saz Semaisi 3'47'' Sample
31- Kemence Taksimi 0'50'' Sample
32- Evc Saz Semaisi 1'57'' Sample
33- Tanbur Taksimi 1'00'' Sample
34- Uzzal Pesrev 6'03'' Sample
35- Kanun Taksimi 1'13'' Sample
36- Ussak Pesrev 2'45'' Sample
37- Ney Taksimi 1'00'' Sample
38- Pesendide Pesrev 2'27'' Sample
39- Pesendide Saz Semaisi 2'00'' Sample
40- Hicaz Oyun Havasi 3'55'' Sample
41- Kemence Taksimi 0'40'' Sample
42- Huzzam Pesrev 6'40'' Sample
43- Bayati Pesrev 6'55'' Sample
44- Tanbur Taksimi 1'14'' Sample
45- Rast Saz Semaisi 2'58'' Sample
46- Mahur Saz Semaisi 2'40'' Sample
47- Hicaz Sirto 2'45'' Sample

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BAYEZID II (1447 - 1512)
The 8th sultan of the empire and son of Mehmet II (The Conqueror). He spent his prince hood in Amasya and ascended to the throne in 1481. He was a poet, calligrapher and a lover of fine arts and sciences. He wrote poems under the pen-name of "Adni". Although we know that Bayezid II loved music and supported musical activities of the Ottoman court, it can not be definitively claimed that he was a composer. In old musical collections we find several composers whose names are all Bayezid, but all of these compositions can not be attributed to Sultan Bayezid II. The instrumental work here (eviç saz semaisi) is tentatively attributed to him and therefore included in this CD.

SULTAN KORKUT (1467 - 1513)
Son of Bayezid II and the elder brother of Selim I. He was a poet, instrumentalist, composer and also a supporter of fine arts and sciences. He is said to have designed a musical instrument called "gıda-i ruh" or "ruh efza". Some eight compositions in the repertoire have been attributed to Prince Korkut.

GAZİ GİRAY KHAN II (1554 - 1608)
13th khan of Crimea (r. 1551 - 1577). Apart from being a successful statesman and military strategist, he was a good poet, calligrapher and composer and supported artists and scholars. He produced excellent instrumental compositions, many of which are still appreciated and frequently performed in concerts. His vokal compositions have not survived.

MURAD IV (1612 - 1640)
17th Ottoman Sultan and son of Ahmed I and Kösem Sultan (Anastassia). He came to the throne at the age of eleven and died when he was only twenty-eight. He was the most cruel of all the Ottoman Sultans. In spite of this, his reign marked one of the most important eras in the history of the Ottoman tradition. At the end of the 16th century musical activities of the court had almost ceased due to serious political and economical problems. Music was revived and made considerable progress during his reign. The first half of the 17th century saw the flourishing of many fine musicians in the Ottoman tradition. Having conquered Bagdad, Murad took the best twelve musicians of Persia to Istanbul, and these artists made their own contributions to Ottoman music. Murad IV wrote poems under the pen-name "Muradi". We learn from Ali Ufki's Mecmua-i Saz ü Söz that he was also a composer and used the pen-name "Şah Murad". Some fifteen compositions in the repertoire bear the signature of "Şah Murad".

MAHMUD I (1596 - 1754)
24th Ottoman sultan. His rule can be considered to be one of the last brilliant periods of the empire, also a great era in Turkish music during which many good composers flourished. Mahmud eagerly supported music and encouraged musical activities in his cour. He wrote poems under the pen-name "Sebkati". Only a few of his instrumental compositions have survived.

SELİM III (1761 - 1808)
28th Ottoman sultan. He was undoubtedly one of the best composers in the Ottoman classical music tradition and played tanbur ad ney. Although there have been a great number of people from the imperial family who took interest in music and who played musical instruments and composed songs, none can compare with Selim III in his enthusiasm for musical pursuits and his achievements as a composer.

Gathering together well-known musicaians of the court and city, the young Selim began to encourage musical activities in court even when he was a prince. He also supported female musicians in the Harem section of the Ottoman court. His reign was indubitably the most brilliant era of Turkish music. Abdülhalim Ağa, Vardakosta Ahmed Ağa, Küçük Mehmed Ağa, Sadullah Ağa, Emin Ağa, Numan Ağa, Şakir Ağa, Kömürcüzade Hafız Efendi, Tanburi İzak, Dede Efendi and many other leading composers of the tradition flourished during this era in which the Ottoman court's traditional musical patronage went much beyond an official interest.

Introducing novelties in music is the most prominent aspect of this era. The need for creating novelties manifests itself in designing new makams and also bending some established rigid rules to some extent. The years when he was a prince and sultan are usually referred to as "the era of Selim III" in the history of Ottoman music.

Selim III was a Mevlevi (the order of Whirling Dervishes). He never lost his interest in the musical
activities in the mevlevihanes (dervish monastry) and other musical centres in the city. He attended liturgical ceremonies of the Whirling Dervishes and visited the Galata Mevlevihanesi to have literary and musical conversations with the great divan poet Şeyh Galib. It's remarkable that Hampartzum Limonciyan and Abdülbaki Nasır Dede both developed new notation systems with the encouragement of Selim III.

Selim III designed a number of few makams such as suzidilara, şevkefza, şevk-u tarab, arazbuselik and nevakürdi. He composed approximately 70 works using various instrumental and vokal musical forms. He wrote poems under the pen-name "İlhami" and gathered them in a divan. In some of his vocal compositions he used his own poems for song-texts.

MAHMUD II (1786 - 1839)
30th Ottoman sultan. He ascended to the throne in 1808. Mahmud II was one of the most active sultans in the history of the empire. Having officially inaugurated the Westernization process in Turkey, he abolished the mehterhane, the traditional Janissary band of the empire, and replaced it with the western-type military band. He invited Giuseppe Donizetti, brother of the famous opera composer Gaetano Donizetti, to Istanbul to found Muzıka-i Hümayun (Music of the Imperial Court), an institution that would introduce Western music into Turkey. Muzıka-i Hümayun was in fact a kind of Western music conservatory.

Although Mahmud's official presence was for Western music, he was personally a lover of traditional Ottoman music. Those great composers who flourished in Selim III's court continued to be active at the time of Mahmud II. Therefore, his reign was another brilliant period in the history of Turkish music.

Mahmud II, who played the tanbur and the ney, also took interest in composing and produced beautiful songs. The song on this CD in Hicaz makam, was written and composed by Mahmud II and is a classic of the genre. Mahmud II wrote poems under the pen-name "Adli".

ABDÜLAZİZ (1830 - 1876)
32nd Ottoman sultan and son of Mahmud II. He ascended to the throne in 1861. Unlike his elder brother, Sultan Abdülmecid, who prefered Western music to Turkish music, Abdülaziz was a lover of traditional music. He played the ney and the lavta (Turkish version of European lute). He took interest in composing as well and produced three works and one instrumental piece.

MEHMED VI (VAHDETTİN) (1861 - 1926)
36th Ottoman sultan and the youngest son of Sultan Abdülmecid. He ascended to the throne in 1918. He fled Turkey after the War of Independence and died in San Remo (Italy) in 1926.
Mehmed took interest in both Turkish and Western music. He played the piano and the kanun. He also collected the musical notations of a great number of Turkish compositions. To this day, only a few of his compositions are known. It seems that there are many more of his works that have yet to be brought to light.

The youngest son of Sultan Abdülaziz and brother of Abdülmecid Efendi the Caliph. He is known as a composer of instrumental and vokal works in many forms and in various makams and his musical preferences were classical in nature. His peşrev in Bayati makam is one of the loveliest instrumental works in the repertoire of Turkish music.

Prince Seyfettin's daughter and grand-daughter of of Sultan Abdülaziz. She received her education in France. Having spent some years in excile in Egypt after the War of Independence, she came to Turkey and died in Istanbul. She played the tanbur, kemençe, ud, lavta and piano. Princess Gevheri composed vocal and instrumental pieces in various makams

Music At The Ottoman Court

Ersu Pekin

In addition to the musicians trained within the palace itself, musicians trained outside the palace were sometimes given permanent employment at court or invited to take part now and again in musical activities. The term "küme fasıl" was employed to refer to an ensemble composed of court musicians combined with musicians from outside the palace. A good example of this type of activity is given by the invitation to Hamamizade İsmail Dede Efendi to take part in performances at court. Greatly impressed by the song in the buselik makam (mode) beginning "Zülfündedir benim baht-ı siyahım" which Hamamizade had composed when still a novice in the Mevlevi dervish lodge and which had quickly won great popularity in Istanbul, Selim III sent Vardakosta Ahmet Agha, one of the court accountants, to the lodge to summon Dervish İsmail to the palace. Later, Dede Efendi was to come and go many times between the dervish lodge and the royal court but although at one time he was appointed müezzinbaşı (head muezzin) he was never permanently attached to the court. This shows that the Ottoman Court followed musical activities in Istanbul very closely, that it made further musical progress possible by accepting successful musicians into its own organisation and that it played a leading role in providing them with cultural nourishment.

The some sort of set-up is to be found under Sultan Abdülhamid II, who had a great love of Western music and arranged for his daughter Ayşe Sultan to be given piano lessons. On hearing of the fame of Tanburi Cemil Bey, who had become identified with music in Istanbul from the great mansions to the street musicians, he invited him to the palace so as to at least hear him.

In the Ottoman tradition, the terms State, Court and Sultan constituted one integral whole as regards both place and concept. The word State suggested the Sultan who represented it, as well as both the residence of the Sultan and the Court as the place from which the State was governed. Whether the "Court" referred to a palace or to the otagh (state tent) used by the Sultan when on campaign, it remained, together with the Sultan, a symbol of the State. At the time of the foundation of the Ottoman State, music occupied an important place among the symbols representing hegemony, the state and rule (beylik). The banner, tabl (drum) and tuğ (horsetail) symbolizing rule and hegemony sent to Osman Gazi by Gıyaseddin Mesud, the Seljuk Sultan in Konya, led to the foundation of the Tabl ü Alem Mehterleri or Ottoman military bands. These Tabl ü Alem Mehterleri connected with the court consisted of the standard-bearers entrusted with the protection of the imperial standard (sancak) and of musicians. The mehter would play every day in the afternoon in front of either the palace or the royal tent, in whichever the Sultan happened to be at the time.

The preparation of music books for the court during the reign of Murat II, before the transfer of the capital to Istanbul, and the dedication to Murad II of a work entitled Makasidü'l - Elhan by Maragalı Abdülkadir in Semerkand are both of great importance as evidence of the interest taken in music by the Ottoman Court. Books such as the Risale-i İlmü'l Musiki by Ahmedoğlu, Şükrullah, translated with additions by Safiüddin Abdülmumin, Makasidü'l - Elhan, Nekavetü'l Edvar (Nuruosmaniye Library 3646) written during the reign of Mehmed the Conqueror by Abdülaziz, son of Maragalı Abdülkadir, Risale-i İlmü'l Musiki (Topkapı Saray Museum Library, A 3449), an Arabic book on musical rules written by Fethullah Mü'min, Şirvani and dedicated to Mehmet the Conqueror, show that Eastern Islamic cultural sources were used in the formation of a basis of Ottoman musical culture in the 15th century or, it might be more accurate to say, ensured an accumulation of knowledge that made it possible for Ottoman music to acquire a certain individual identity.
The Classical Period

A description of the musical entertainment at the circumcision festivities held in tents erected on an island in the Maritza river at Edirne in 1457 for the princes Bayezit and Mustafa, the sons of Mehmet I the Conqueror, is given by Dursun Bey in his history of the reign of Mehmet II entitled Tarih-i Ebü'l- Feth. Dursun Bey's use of the term kanun-u padişah implies that this type of musical entertainment at the court of the Conqueror was a custom peculiar to the court itself and that music was composed in accordance with this custom. From Dursun Bey's mention of ensembles composed of, instruments such as the ud, şeştar, tanbur, rebab and barbut, and particularly the şeştar and barbut, it would appear that this music still displayed a purely Islamic character and had not yet acquired an Ottoman identity. It is doubtful if the tanbur mentioned here is the tanbur in use today, while the rebate is certainly not the stringed instrument we now know and is much more likely to be the, stringed instrument played with a plectrum described by Ahmedoğlu, Şükrullah.

From extant documents we learn of the presence at the court of the Conqueror of an ud player by the name of, Şimerd and of a kanun player by the name of İshak. Among the instrument makers mentioned in a craftsman register dated Rebiyülahir 932 (January 1526) (Topkapı Palace Museum Archives D.9306/3) we find a tanbura player by the name of Muslihiddin, who had been engaged by the palace at a daily wage of 12 akçe during the reign of Mehmet II. This entry shows that during the reign of the Conqueror there were a number of musicians and instrument makers employed at the court on a daily basis. From Dursun Bey's history of the time we also learn that in the ceremonies held on the occasion of Beyazid II's accession to the throne after the Mehmet II period, one of great vitality in both science and art, cushions were spread out on the floor and music performed on the, çeng and barbut.

The work entitled Haza el-Matla'fi Beyanü'l- Edvar ve'l- Makamat ve fi İlmü'l Esrar ve'r- Riyazat, also known as "Seydi'nin el Matla'ı " (Topkapı Palace Museum A 3459) was copied in 1504 during the reign of Bayezid II. This book contains an interesting section tracing the musical policy adopted at the Ottoman Court at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th. The writer explains that both musical and mathematical theory was ultimately based on the work of Farabi and that Safiüddin Abdülmümin later determined the sounds on a mathematical basis. After stating that during the time of Safiüddin scholars were prohibited from engaging in music, the writer produces various pieces of evidence showing that musical studies were never abandoned.

There were a number of musicians at the court of Bayezid engaged on a daily basis. A list of musicians to be found in a register dating from the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent (Topkapı Palace Museum 7643) the kopuzcus Şaban and Husrev, mentioned as having been musicians at the court of Bayezid II, the two kanuni Şadi and Muhittin and a kemençeci by the name of Nasuh. The note "içeriden çıkmıştır" to be found against the name of kopuzcu Husrev indicates that he was one of the musicians trained in the Enderun during the reign of Bayezid II.

Two miniatures in the Süleymanname of 1558 preserved in the Topkapı Palace Museum which Esin Atıl entitles " Entertainment of Süleyman the Magnificent" depict, musicians performing in the presence of the Sultan, who is seen seated in a pavilion. The same type of musical entertainment can be seen in miniatures depicting the festivities held in Topkapı Palace on the occasion of the circumcision of Süleyman's sons, Bayezid and Cihangir. Singers are to be seen In these miniatures, as well as musicians playing instruments such as the çeng, kanun, ud, rebab (kemençe), ney, mıskal and daire (def). One of the miniatures shows two çengi dancing with çalpara (castanets) in their hands.

The group of musicians known as cemaat-ı mutrıban referred to in the sources as being employed on a daily basis at the Ottoman Court during the reign of Süleyman the Magnifıcent included singers known as guyende (hanende) in addition to avvad (udi), kobuzi, kemançeci, kanuni, çengi and nayi. Names of musicians and instrument makers are to be found in the ehl-i hiref registers containing a list of the artist and others employed in the Court. The notes added to the names indicate that the custom of bringing musicians from Iran that was prevalent at the court of Mehmet the Conqueror was continued under Selim I. Naturally enough, these musicians brought with them the music they knew and were in the habit of performing.

Ottoman court music of the 15th and 16th centuries, while, on the one hand, keeping in constant and close touch with both the theory and the practice of the music of the Eastern Islamic cultural environment, was also strongly characterized by local cultural features. At that period, the State was on its way to becoming a global empire, and Ottoman art, and Ottoman music in particular, was preparing for itself a very special identity in Islamic art. In doing so, it aimed at a synthesis of what it had created itself or discovered in local sources with Islamic culture in general.

Evliya Çelebi relates how, on his reception into the presence of Murad IV in 1635, he performed works in the varsağı, segah, may and bestenigar makams (modes) with words by Murat IV and music by Dervish Ömer, a member of the Gülşeni sect and Evliya Çelebi's former teacher of music. Although a commoner, Evliya Çelebi formed a variety of relations with the court, even, according to his own account, being admitted to the Kiler Odası (Office of the Palace Pantry). That a poem written by the Sultan should be set to music and performed in the presence of the Sultan, along with other works, by an ordinary man of the people sheds an interesting light on the relations between the courts and the community. Evliya Çelebi also relates how on Saturday nights the Sultan would gather singers and musicans, including those who performed ilahi and nast, (hymns and eulogies) and engage in a conversation with them. He also informs us that the saray meşkhanesi (Palace school of music) was located beside the has hamam (royal bath) in the third courtyard of Topkapı Sarayı.

A sketch plan of Topkapı Sarayı drawn at this same period by Ali Ufki Bey (Albert Bobovski), an inmate of the Topkapı Sarayı Enderun, shows the meşkhane in the third courtyard. According to this sketch, the meşkhane is located, not in the position it occupies today, but on the right hand side of the Arzodası (Throne Room), in front of the building in which the garments of the Sultans are now exhibited. In a still extant work entitled Haza Mecmua-i Saz ü Söz containing a large number of works of the period together with examples of popular music sach as varsağı, Ali Ufki Bey writes that the "meşkhane" remained open all day long, being closed only at night, and that it was here that the musicians received lessons from their teachers. These teachers lived outside the palace, and would arrive at the palace each day after the first meeting of the divan (council of state), while the içoğlan (pages) engaged in musical activities would live in their own rooms in the Enderun. Ali Ufki Bey mentions a concert presented in accordance with Western musical technique by an Italian musician attached to the court during the reign of Sultan Murad, and lists the instruments used as kemençe, tanbur (or şeştar), santur, mıskal, ney and ud, together with instruments used in the performance of folk music such as the çağana, çöğür, tanbura, tel tanburası and çeşde.

The most important source material for a study of Ottoman music at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th is to be found in the book written by the historian and composer Prince Kantemiroğlu of Moldovia. After referring to the much greater vitality and maturity with which Ottoman music during the reign of Sultan Mehmed was endowed as a result of the efforts of Osman Efendi, a member of a noble Istanbul family, Prince Kantemiroğlu gives the names of distinguished musicians in the court circles. He also refers to the saray başkesedar (Head Keeper of the Royal Purse) Davul İsmail Efendi and the haznedar (treasurer) Latif Çelebi as being lovers of music with those encouragement he had written his book on the theory of Ottoman music, and states that the Ottoman sultans, who, in the earlier years of the empire, had been engaged for most of their time in continuous warfare, were now able to devote themselves to music and the fine arts.

In the 18th century of the Ottoman court found itself in a period characterized by the rapid decline of the State and it was towards the end of the century that preferences in the cultural field began to be directed towards the West. In the years preceding his accession to the throne, Selim III had taken an active interest in literature, music and history, but although, as Sultan, he was obviously greatly influenced by Western architecture, the same can not be said for music. Selim III was not only a distinguished statesman but also a distinguished musician and composer, heading the list of sultans such as Murat IV, Mehmet IV, Mustafa II, Mahmut I and Mahmut II who gave particular importance to music. Under these Sultans, interest in music at the court far transcended a merely official interest. Apart from the Sultan himself, a great many musicians and lovers of music were to be found among the princes, the ladies of the court and the various members of the royal family. On the other hand, there were several Sultans, headed by Osman III, who displayed no interest whatsoever in music, and Mustafa VI, who put an end to musical entertainment at court. The last really brilliant period of music in the Ottoman court is to be found during the reign of Mahmud II.

In his study of musical activities under Mahmud II, Rauf Yekta gives a lively account, based on oral sources, of the performance of a ferahfez fasıl in the Sedab Pavilion in Topkapı Palace in which very distinguished musicians of the time took part. The singers were Dede Efendi, Dellalzade İsmail Agha, Suyolcuzade Salih Efendi, Kömürcüzade Hafız Efendi and Basmacızade Abdi Efendi, with Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi on the ney, Sait Efendi on the girift, Rıza Efendi, Mustafa Agha and Ali Agha on kemans and Numan Agha, Zekai Mehmed Agha, Kaçi Arif Agha and Necip Agha on tanburs. Again according to Rauf Yekta, it was the custom at court for the fasıl ensemble to sit on a crimson rug spread out on the floor and to begin the performance only after praise from the Sultan.

Hızır İlyas Agha had received from his education in the Enderun at the court of Mahmud II, and his memoirs, entitled Letaifi Enderun are of great importance for the light they shed on Ottoman history. From this work we learn in which rooms the court musicians of the period lived, what duties they performed, their relationships, the works they produced and their character and personality.

The Enderun was the most important institution as far as musical life in the palace was concerned. The aghas performing personal service to Sultan in the Enderun lived in the Seferli, Kiler, Hazine and Has apartments. The musicians were gathered together in the Seferli Apartment, founded during the reign of Murad IV. Prior to this, a number of "large" and "small" rooms had been used for musical education and performance.

Music was also taught and performed in the Harem section of the palace. The music teachers of the palace concubines (cariyeler) could give lessons either in the palace itself or in their own homes. Over the centuries, hundreds of musicians emerged from among the ladies of the Ottoman court but the names and works of very few of these are known. The most famous of the women composers in the palace was Dilhayat Kalfa, who lived in the middle of the 18th century. Her evcara peşrevi and saz semaisi in the same mode, her compositions "Ta-be-key sinemde cay etmek cefa vü kineye" in the mahur mode, "Çok mu figanım ol gül-i ziba hıram için" in yhe eviç mode and "Nevhıramım sana meyl eyledi can bir, dil iki" in the rast mode are among the most valuable works in the Turkish repertoire. Another woman composer whose works have survived is Reftar Kalfa, whose peşrevs and saz semais were noted down by Kantemiroğlu. A famous miniature by Levni depicts a musical ensemble from Harem composed of tanbur, mıskal, zurna and daire.

The Enderun was abolished by Mahmud II, who continued the reforms initiated by Selim III with the abolition of the Janissary Corps and the establishment of a Western type army known as the Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhammediye. This was inevitably followed by the abolition of Mehterhane and the formation of a Muzıka-i Hümayun (Imperial Military Band) under the direction of Giuseppe Donizetti. From this time onwards, Ottoman music was to lose its traditional character and to turn to the West, with the court performing its function as patron of the art of music by concentrating on the encouragement of music in the Western style. The seal was set upon the westernization of music by Abdülmecid's accession to the throne and the proclamation of the reform decree. That Dede Efendi, the greater composer of the time should have left the court with the permission of the Sultan on the pretext of going on pilgrimage shows how much the support of the court had weakened.

The introduction of Western music into the Ottoman court began with Donizetti's activity as director of the Muzıka-i Hümayun. The Turkish students in the ottoman palace were taught to sing Italian songs while the court orchestra began to play selections from Italian operas. The foundations of Western music were laid, first in the court and then in the city itself.


Musical Works of The Sultans

Murat Bardakçı

The works in this collection are the recorded examples of an imperial family's musical heritage. These are professional level compositions of the Ottoman family members, who gave their signature to six centuries of the Turkish history. Composed between the first half of the sixteenth century and the second half of the present century, they have remained for many years in private collections known as "Sultani Besteler" (Sultanic Compositions). Now, for the first time, they have been brought together on these CD's.

Music was an inseparable part of the Ottoman daily court life. Groups of musicians were found not only in the emperors palace but also in administrative circles. These same groups, called havasü'l havas (créme de la créme), being a necessity in the state's structure, were always present within the highest élite circles as well as the administrative centers outside the central organization. Ottoman archive documents demonstrate that the early princes sent to rule in Anatolian provinces established, along with the local administrators, their own musical groups which sometimes necessitated importation of musicians from other Muslim countries. This indicates that what we call "Turkish Classical Music", which was that period's elite music, did not remain limited to the capital city Istanbul but was also performed -though in relatively narrow circles- in other centers of the Empire.

In the Ottoman Empire, rulers were not merely state administrators. It seems that they were also the first and sole example of rulers being the leaders of Ottoman musical life as well. These rulers, who personally sketched a musical policy, exerted effort on every level, from theoretical treatises, to develop new makams (modes) and they personally composed with those newly formed makams. Within the field of composition are found not only the sultans themselves in continual activity but also other male and female members of the imperial family. The works on this recording are the extant products of such on-going activity.

Here it is necessary to offer a short explanation for one of the rulers, Murad IV: Among the works recorded under the of Sultan Murad only one source remains: a 17th century manuscript, Ali Ufki's Mecmua-i Saz ü Söz (A collection of instumental and vokal melodies) (British Museum, Sloane Collection, No. 3114). The writing on the top of instrumental works is clearly indicated that these compositions belong to a ruler with the title "Shah Murad". Yet only one of the compositions, namely the Bayati Semai, has been attributed to Sultan Murad Khan, conqueror of Bagdad. A widespread belief within the musical circles concerning Murad VI's compositional abilities is rectified by the presentation of both his works on this recording. Much the same can be said for Beyazid II. Although the 16th century musical forms are not to be found in today's "saz semaisi" and the modal structure of the makam evc is different, the Evc Saz Semaisi has been attiributed to Beyazid II. The instrumental works of a ruler both contemporary and tributary to the Ottomans, the Crimean Khan Gazi Giray II, have also taken their place on the album.

Leaving aside the political personalities of the Ottoman ruler-composer, the album offers a view of their musical achievement. That the name of Murad IV is historically remembered as a cruel ruler who shed much blood, that Selim III's brings to mind social reform, or that Mehmed VI's historical role is still the subject of a debate does not enter the spirit of these CD's. These composers, who have contributed Turkish classical music, -some on amateur and some on professional level- are here presented solely on the basis of their artistic achievements.


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