La SubLIME PORTE voix d`Istanbul 1430



La SubLIME PORTE voix d`Istanbul 1430
voix d’Istanbul
1430 – 1750
Gürsoy Dinçer
Montserrat Figueras, Lior Elmaleh
Hakan Güngor, Nedyalko Nedyalkov, Derya Türkan, Yurdal Tokcan, Murat Salim Tokaç
Fahrettin Yarkın, Driss El Maloumi, Pierre Hamon, Dimitri Psonis
Yair Dalal, Georgi Minassyan, Haïg Sarikouyoumdjian
Gaguik Mouradian, Pedro Estevan
Voix d’Istanbul
1430 - 1750
1. Taksim & Makam « uzzäl uşūleş Darb-i feth »
Dervis Mehmed (Mss. Dimitrie Cantemir 209)
Montserrat Figueras chant, Lior Elmaleh chant
H. Güngör kanun, N. Nedyalkov kaval, H. Sarikouyoumdjian duduk
J. Savall vielle, P. Estevan percussion
5. Taksim & Makam « bûselik uşūleş »
Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723) (Mss. Dimitrie Cantemir 335)
D. Türkan kemençe, Y. Tokcan oud, M.S. Tokaç tanbur, H. Güngör kanun
F. Yarkın percussion, N. Nedyalkov kaval, D. Psonis santur et morisca, D. El Maloumi oud
P. Estevan percussion, J. Savall lira d’arc
6. Hisar ağir Semai
Buhuri Zade Mustafa Efendi (Itri) (ca. 1640 ?-1712)
Gürsoy Dinçer chant
D. Türkan kemençe, Y. Tokcan oud, M.S. Tokaç tanbur, H. Güngör kanun, F. Yarkın percussion
N. Nedyalkov kaval, D. Psonis santur et morisca
D. El Maloumi oud, P. Estevan percussion, J. Savall lira d’arc
7. Taksim & Danse (kemençe & percussion) *
Anonyme Traditionnel d'Arménie
Gaguik Mouradian kemençe
Pedro Estevan percussion
8. Prière
Traditionnel Hebraïque
Lior Elmaleh chant
Driss El Maloumi oud, Gaguik Mouradian kemençe
9. Taksim & Makam Rehavi Çember
Tanburi Angeli (? -1690) (Mss. Dimitrie Cantemir 297)
D. Türkan kemençe, Y. Tokcan oud, M.S. Tokaç tanbur, H. Güngör kanun
F. Yarkın percussion, N. Nedyalkov kaval, D. Psonis santur et morisca, D. El Maloumi oud
P. Estevan percussion, J. Savall lira d’arc
A Sultana is entertained with music and dance. - Miniature, Turkish, 16th century. Illustration to the travel journal of the Venetian envoy Jacopo Soranzo from 1581 (Codice Cicogna).
Georgi Minassyan duduk I
Haïg Sarikouyoumdjian duduk II
4. Por alli pasó un cavallero
Anonyme Sépharade (Smyrne, XVIe siècle)
11. Taksim & Makam « Hicâz uşūleş Devr-i Kebir »
Anonyme (Mss. Dimitrie Cantemir n. 220, ca. 1690)
D. Türkan kemençe, Y. Tokcan oud, M.S. Tokaç tanbur, H. Güngör kanun
F. Yarkın percussion, N. Nedyalkov kaval, D. Psonis santur et morisca, D. El Maloumi oud
P. Estevan percussion, J. Savall lira d’arc
Gürsoy Dinçer chant
D. Türkan kemençe, Y. Tokcan oud, M. S. Tokaç tanbur, H. Güngör kanun, F. Yarkın percussion
N. Nedyalkov kaval, D. Psonis santur et morisca, D. El Maloumi oud
P. Estevan percussion, J. Savall lira d’arc
3. Chanson et Danse « Siretsi yares Taran–Noubar noubar »
Anonyme traditionnel d’Arménie
Gürsoy Dinçer chant
D. Türkan kemence, F. Yarkın percussion
Y. Tokcan oud, M.S. Tokaç tanbur
D. Türkan kemençe, Y. Tokcan oud, M. S. Tokaç tanbur, H. Güngör kanun
F. Yarkın percussion, N. Nedyalkov kaval, D. Psonis santur et morisca, D. El Maloumi oud
P. Estevan percussion, J. Savall lira d’arc
2. Segâh Kâr « Kâr-i Seş-âvâz »
Hace Abdülkadir Meragi (1350?-1435)
10. Gazel
Improvisation (tradition Ottomane) Poème de Fuzuli (Mehmet bin Süleyman)
12. Punxa, punxa
Romance Séfarade Istanbul *
Montserrat Figueras chant
H. Sarikouyoumdjian duduk, N. Nedyalkov kaval, D. El Maloumi oud
D. Psonis santur, J. Savall vielle, P. Estevan percussion
13. El Rey que tanto madruga (instrumental) *
Anonyme Sépharade (Smyrne, XVIe siècle)
14. Hisar buselik Şarkı
Tanburi Mustafa Çavuş (1700 ?- 1770)
15. Plainte « En Sarer II » *
Goussan Ashot (Arménie)
16. Rast Nakış beste « amed nesim-i »
Hace Abdülkadir Meragi (1350 ?-1435)
P. Hamon ney, J. Savall rebab
P. Estevan percussion, G. Mouradian kamancha
D. El Maloumi oud, Y. Dalal oud, D. Psonis morisca
Gürsoy Dinçer chant
D. Türkan kemençe, Y. Tokcan oud, M.S. Tokaç tanbur, H. Güngör kanun, F. Yarkın percussion
N. Nedyalkov kaval, D. Psonis santur et morisca
D. El Maloumi oud, P. Estevan percussion, J. Savall lira d’arc
Georgi Minassyan duduk I
Haïg Sarikouyoumdjian duduk II
Gürsoy Dinçer chant
D. Türkan kemençe, Y. Tokcan oud, M.S. Tokaç tanbur, H. Güngör kanun, F. Yarkın percussion
N. Nedyalkov kaval, D. Psonis santur et morisca
D. El Maloumi oud, P. Estevan percussion, J. Savall lira d’arc
Enregistrements réalisés à la Collégiale de Cardona (Catalogne) le 15 Février 2010 (*)
et du 16 au 18 Mai et les 13 et 14 Juin 2011 par Manuel Mohino.
Montage et Masterisation SaCD : Manuel Mohin
La Fundació Centre Internacional de Música Antiga reçoit le soutien
de la Generalitat de Catalunya et de l’Institut Ramon Llull
Ce projet a été financé avec le soutien de la Commission Européenne
Réalisation Éditoriale : Agnès Prunés | Design : Eduardo Néstor Gómez
Couverture : Reception at the Court of Sultan Selim III (1761-1807) at the Topkapı Palace, late 18th century (gouache on paper) by Ottoman School, (18th century).
Topkapı Palace Museum, Istanbul, Turkey/Giraudon/The Bridgeman Art Library
Gürsoy Dinçer chant (Turquie)
Montserrat Figueras chant (Espagne)
Lior Elmaleh chant (Israël)
Jordi Savall direction
Pedro Estevan percussion
Jordi Savall lira, vielle, rebab
Nedyalko Nedyalkov kaval
Driss El Maloumi oud
Pierre Hamon ney (n. 13)
Derya Türkan kemençe
Yurdal Tokcan oud
Murat Salim Tokaç tanbur
Hakan Güngör kanun
Fahrettin Yarkın percussion
Dimitri Psonis santur et morisca
Yair Dalal oud
Photo : Toni Peñarroya
Georgi Minassyan duduk (n. 3 & 15)
Haïg Sarikouyoumdjian duduk (n. 3 & 15)
Gaguik Mouradian kemençe
The Sublime Porte
Voices of Istanbul.
Dialogues between East and West,
between two worlds and two seas
Jewish travellers wear yellow turbans,while those worn by the Armenians, Greeks, Maronites,
Copts and men of all other Christian nations are bluish grey or multicoloured;
only the Turks wear white turbans...
They speak three languages [...] which are common to its inhabitants.
Spanish in the case of the Jews, and Greek and Turkish, this last being the most common.
There are also some Arab and Armenian families.
Pierre belon, Observations (Travel in Turkey, 1553)
In 1453, some years before the fall of Granada in January 1492, a date which, after seven centuries,
marked the conclusion of the Spanish Reconquista against the Arabs on the peninsula and the edict
ordering the expulsion of the Jews in March of that same year, Mehmed II seized Constantinople and
triggered the great division of the Mediterranean among the Christian nations and the Ottoman Empire.
“Indignation prevents me from remaining silent, and sorrow prevents me from speaking my mind. We are
ashamed to go on living. Italy, Germany, France and Spain are among the most prosperous States, and
yet (oh, the shame of it!) we allow Constantinople to be taken by the voluptuous Turks!” These dramatic
words of Cardinal Piccolomini reflected widespread public opinion in the West after the fall of the
capital of Byzantium. Calls to unite in the enterprise of retaking the city were rife, and, as soon as he
was elected in 1455, Pope Calixtus III (Alfons de Borja) proclaimed a crusade against the Turks.
However, due to a lack of resources coupled with a lack of unified action among the Christian kingdoms,
the crusade failed to materialise. The city became the capital of the Ottoman Empire and home to Islam,
although it continued to be a major centre for Orthodox Christians. We should not forget, however, the
circumstantial alliances and the trade agreements that were signed between nations that continued to be
fierce enemies. But the most surprising turn of events of the second half of the 15th century was the letter
sent in 1461 by Pope Pius II Piccolomini to Sultan Mehmed II, a doubly unusual missive in that it was
sent at a time when an imminent crusade was being prepared against the sultan, and because in that letter
the Pope offered to recognise the sworn enemy of Christianity as emperor on condition that he converted
to Catholicism. The champion of the struggle against the Turks now proposed to legitimise the sultan’s
conquests and to recognise him as the successor to Constantine, provided that he accepted baptism: “If
you wish to extend your empire to Christian peoples”, he wrote, “and make your name glorious on the
lips of all men, you need neither gold, nor armies, nor troops, nor ships. One small thing would suffice
to make you the greatest, most powerful and illustrious of men alive today: a few drops of water for your
baptism to initiate you in the Christian rite and faith in the Gospel. If you do this [….] we shall call you
emperor of Greece and the East, and those lands which you have taken by force and unlawfully occupy
today will become your rightful property.” To understand this offer, one needs to remember that it was
regularly suggested in the West that the Turks were the heirs to the great empires of the past. Not only
had they absorbed most of the kingdoms known to Antiquity, but they also had inherited the virtues of
the Roman legions. After conquering, one by one, those countries which had once been within the orbit
of Rome, the Ottoman army seems to have resurrected the imperial project; or rather, it seemed capable
of extending its borders even further. The 15th century still cherished the imperial dream, according
which looked forward to the advent of an emperor who would pave the way for the second coming of
Christ. It is typical of the age, for example, that when Charles VIII entered Naples in 1495, he had
himself acclaimed King of France, Emperor of Constantinople and King of Jerusalem.
In fact, it was all about reuniting East and West. Throughout the 16th century, a Biblical text, the
Prophecy of Daniel, enjoyed great popularity and was the subject of various interpretations. The story is
well known: Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, has a dream whose meaning nobody is able to
decipher. The young Daniel is brought before the king and solves the mystery. According to Lucette
Valensi (Venise et la Sublime Porte), this text provided the basis for the theory of the four monarchies as
phases in world history. The pagan monarchies – those of Babylon-Assyria, Persia, Greece and Rome –
would ultimately be succeeded by the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. It was Rabbi Isaac
Abravanel who, at the end of the 15th century, had identified the Ottoman Empire as the last monarchy.
Also drawing on the Book of Daniel, Francesco da Meleto, the son of a Florentine-Bolognese merchant
and a Russian serf, was responsible for spreading the prophecy throughout Florence, taking his
inspiration from conversations he had had with Jews and Muslims during his business travels to
Constantinople. He simultaneously heralded the imminent conversion of the Jews and the Muslims, and
the renewal of the Church, to be followed, he predicted, by universal salvation and an era of peace and
happiness. Finally, there was the famous book by Guillaume Postel, entitled De la république des Turcs,
in which, after giving a long and detailed description of the Turkish Empire, the author portrays Turkey
as a model for universal monarchy whose exceptional success he then sets out to understand.
Contemporary accounts continued to refer to Istanbul as Constantinople, comparing it time and time
again to Rome and continuing to look on it as the ancient capital of the Roman Empire. Not only did it
enjoy a clearly privileged strategic position, but it also had a vocation to govern both East and West and
to become the capital of the whole world. In 1503, Andrea Gritti went into raptures over the beauty of
the city: “The location of the city, its climate, the two seas by which it is flanked on either side, and the
beauty of its neighbouring lands, give this city the finest and the most fortunate location, not only in all
of Asia, but also in the whole world.” Almost a century later, Donà echoed Gritti’s account, describing
the advantageous position of Istanbul astride Asia and Europe and “the rare beauty” of its situation,
acknowledging that the view of the city “is truly the loveliest sight in the world.” As well as revealing
his obsession with the universal monarchy that he believed could be brought about by the Turks, the
author’s long description of the city reflects the image which the sultan himself sought to project: he was
Sultan of the two lands and Lord of the two seas (this same formula was inscribed on the imperial coins),
he was higher than all other men and all crowned heads, the shadow of God on Earth. He called his
capital, the Porte, “the seat of happiness.”
These “Voices of Istanbul”, comprising vocal pieces and instrumental music (Ottoman, Greek, Sephardic
and Armenian) from the “Sublime Porte” (the Ottoman court of that “Gateway to Happiness”), follow our
earlier recording devoted to the instrumental music of Ottoman, Sephardic and Armenian Istanbul from
the time of the publication of The Book of the Science of Music by the Moldavian prince Dimitrie
Cantemir. During our lengthy research on the music, culture and history of the Turks, we have become
more and more aware of the West’s astonishing ignorance regarding Ottoman history and civilisation.
As Jean-Paul Roux so aptly points out in his Histoire des Turcs, “We know more about the Turks than we
might imagine, yet nothing binds that knowledge together”. From our schooldays we recall that in 1453
they took Constantinople, that Suleyman the Magnificent was the ally of Francis I against the hegemony
of Charles V, that in 1572 the combined fleet of the Christian nations inflicted a terrible defeat on the
Turks at the Battle of Lepanto. The great Miguel de Cervantes, who lost the use of his left hand at the
Battle of Lepanto, provides a magnificent evocation of the Ottoman world in his play La gran sultana
(1615). Thanks to Racine we are familiar with the sultan Bajazet; through Molière and his Bourgeois
gentilhomme, we discover the “Turqueries”, or Turkish-inspired fashion and décor, which were still
fashionable in the 18th century. A long catalogue of writers and artists have fed our dreams of the
Ottoman world and its legends: from Théophile Gautier to Anatole France, from Lully to Mozart, from
Pierre Loti to Victor Hugo, without forgetting the poetic evocations of Lamartine and Nerval, the
paintings of Ingres and Delacroix… and the Bellini, Lotto and Holbein carpets produced in Turkey in the
15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Numerous references deriving from the Turkish way of life and objects
form part of our everyday lives; kiosks, the small pavilions that the Turks call kösk; the tulip, imported
from the Bosphorus by the Dutch, takes its name from the shape of the turban tülbent. Turkish food often
features in our diet, not only the brochettes that Turks call shishkebab (şiş kebap), but also our taste for
coffee and croissants (in the shape of the emblem, the crescent moon, which were emblazoned on the
standards of the besieging army), which became fashionable following a siege of Vienna by the
Ottomans, and yoghurt (yoğurt), defined as “a national food of the mountain dwellers of Bulgaria” but
which has always been a staple of the nomads of the steppes, the word itself deriving from the Turkish
expressions yoğun (“dense” or “thick”), or yoğunluk (“density”), and yoğurtmak, meaning “to knead”.
Our imaginary is also furnished with words such as seraglio, harem, odalisque, scimitar, with Orientalist
paintings and desert winds… Thus, we progress from a repertoire of imperfectly known facts to a
succession of unreal visions that have been more or less transformed at the whim of our imagination…
The reality is quite different. The Turks can boast two thousand years of history, from the Pacific to the
Mediterranean, from Peking to Vienna, Algiers and Troyes, during which they have welded their destiny
to that of virtually all the peoples of the ancient world: Attila and the Huns, the empire of the Tabghatch
in northern China; a Jewish kingdom in southern Russia; the founding of the Abbasid capital at Samarra;
the peaceful coexistence of all the great religions among the Uyghurs of central Asia; the Seljuqs of Iran;
Genghis Khan and the Mongol hegemony; the Mamelukes of Egypt; the Golden Horde’s domination of
its vassal Russia for two centuries; Tamburlaine; the Timurid Renaissance in Samarkand at Herat; the
Ottoman Empire as the first world power in the 16th century; Babur Chab Shah and the founding of the
Mughal Empire; Atatürk and Turkey’s national revolution.
From the beginning of the 16th century until its demise, the empire of the sultans played an active role
in European politics; in life as in music, Turkey and Europe were not separate worlds, turned in on
themselves and impermeable to one another. As Jean-François Solnon (Le turban et la stambouline)
points out, these two worlds, initially indifferent to one another, aroused mutual curiosity, attraction and
even fascination, finally becoming porous to each other’s influence. From the 18th century, the Sublime
Porte played the card of Westernisation, a trend which was to culminate with Mustafa Kemal, when
Turkey held up Europe as its model whilst remaining true to its roots.
The message of this wonderful, fascinating vocal and instrumental Ottoman music, in dialogue with that
of Greek, Sephardic and Armenian musicians at the “Sublime Porte”, reminds us that the Ottoman
Empire afforded non-Muslims a certain amount of religious freedom: Orthodox Greeks, Christians and
Jews were able to continue to practise their faith in the land of Islam, just as the multiplicity of languages
spoken there turned Ottoman cities into towers of Babel.
Turkish Songs
SEGâH KâR – KâR-I ŞEŞ-âvaz
Safiyüddin Urmevi (1217-1294) and Abdülkadir Meragi (1353-1435) were the two major theoreticians
responsible for transmitting the theoretical knowledge from Islam in the Middle Ages to Ottoman
musical culture, which began to discover its own identity after the 15th century. Meragi, whose works
are an intense reflection of the Iranian tradition, illuminated his own path, as well as that of later
theoreticians, thanks to his analytical method based on a comparative analysis of the work carried out
before him. Meragi was also an important performer and composer in his own day.
Kâr is the general name given to long works which incorporate various rhythms and usually begin with
a terennüm (vocal refrain). The kâr is a type of beste (composition) in which composers of earlier periods
showcased their skill and the aspects to which they attached special importance. In general, the kâr is
performed immediately after the peşrev (overture). Given that this is a rather broad compositional style,
its structure typically makes use of a variety of rhythms, these changes of rhythm giving the work a
unique vitality. Sometimes, works composed in the kâr form are given different names, depending on
their length or brevity; names such as kâr, kârçe, kâr-ı nev, kâr-ı natık refer to the structure of the pieces.
Basel, 19th September 2011
Translated by Jacqueline Minett
Comp. Buhuri Zade Mustafa Efendi (Itri)
Dil-î pür-ıztırâbım mevce-i seylâbdır sensiz
Dü çeşm-i hûn-feşanım halka-i girdabdır sensiz
Metâ-ı zindegî bâr oldu dûş-i câna hicrinle
Dil-î şûrîde-halim şöyle ki bitabdır sensiz
Like a wave in the torrent, my soul is filled with pain when you are absent.
My eyes, like whirlpools, shed tears of blood when you are hidden from them.
Peace and joy departed my breast when you left me.
My loving, passionate soul grows faint and weary with your absence.
In the classical Fasıl the ağır semâî (solemn semai) is performed after the second beste. It is in every
respect similar to the beste except for the fact that the ağır semâî are metred in one of the following
rhythms: 6/4 sengin semâî, 6/2 ağır sengin semâî, 10/8 aksak semâî and 10/4 ağır aksak semâî. It has the
same melodic structure as the beste. As in the beste, the ağır semâî includes the nakış ağır semâî.
Lyrics by Fuzuli
Beni candan usandırdı cefadan yar usanmaz mı
Felekler yandı ahımdan muradım şem-i yanmaz mı
Şeb-i hicran yanar canım döker kan çeş mi giryanım
Uyarır halkı efganım kara bahtım uyanmaz mı
So much torment has wearied me of living, yet my beloved never tires making me suffer.
Fate has heard my complaints; will it not light the candle of my hope?
On the night of our parting my soul burns, my eyes weep blood instead of tears.
All are woken by my cries; why do my cries not wake my unhappy fate?
The gazel (improvised song) is the type of verse most frequently used in the divan (an Ottoman word
used to refer to the complete works of a poet). Initially, in Arab literature, it was a part of the kaside
(praise poem) known as tegaüzzül, but it subsequently developed along independent lines. In Arabic, it
means “love talk with a woman”. The first gazel was written by İmruü’l-Kays, who died in 530. During
the earliest periods (the earliest times of the Islamic faith), the gazel, which, apart from arousing great
interest, triggered multiple reactions, was subsequently taken up by the literature of Iran, and thence
imported into Ottoman literature, where the finest examples are to be found in the work of Fuzuli, Baki,
Şeyhülislam Yahya, Nabi, Nedim and Şeyh Galib.
Gazels also go by various names, depending on their subject matter. Gazels which express strong feelings
such as the pain and happiness caused by love are known as aşıkane; those dealing with themes such as
drinking, the carefree life and pleasure are known as rindane; the gazels on women are called şuhane;
and those dealing with didactic themes or offering advice are known as hakimane.
The best example of the gazel aşıkane are the gazels by Fuzûlî; as for the rindane, the best examples are
those by Bâkî. The gazels on the theme of women, drinking and the pleasures of the flesh, such as those
by Nedîm, are şuhane; and those with a didactic purpose, such as those by Nâbî and Gülşehri, are called
hakimane. There are also gazels on philosophical subjects.
Formerly, the gazels were recited as they were written. There were also gazels written especially for
composition. Those who recite the gazels are called gazelhan, and the master poets who write gazels are
referred to as gazelsera.
In Turkish music, the gazel is an improvised recital of a poem. When it has vocal accompaniment, it is
also known as a taksim.
Comp. Tanburi Mustafa Çavuş
Lyrics by Hıfzi
Dök zülfünü meydane gel
Sür atını ferzane gel
Al daireni hengame gel
Bülbül senin gülşen senin
Yar amman amman
Aşıkınım hayli zaman
Dil muntazır teşrifine
Gel amman amman
Verdin cevap ünvan ile
Yakdın sinem suzan ile
Müştak sana bin can ile
Bülbül senin gülşen senin
Yar amman amman
Aşıkınım hayli zaman
Dil muntazır teşrifine
Gel amman amman
Let down your tresses and come!
Mount your horse, and listen to me!
Come to my humble home and make it yours.
The nightingale and the rose garden are yours.
I have long been your lover.
My soul is yours; it yearns for you to come.
Oh come, I beg you, come!
You answered me, showing the way.
You seared my breast with your fire.
Had I a thousand souls, I would desire you with them all.
The nightingale and the rose garden are yours.
I have long been your lover.
My soul is yours; it yearns for you to come.
Oh come, I beg you, come!
The şarkı (song) is written in stanzas of 4, 5, 6 and 8 lines. It is usually composed in up to 10-time in a
minor rhythmic pattern and, occasionally, incorporates some major rhythms. Lighter in character than the
larger-format works, the style and introduction of şarkı are very different from those of the beste, the
ağır and the yürük semâî. The lyrics used in the şarkı are taken from the ternary form of the divan
literature. Although there have been many different approaches to the song, the most frequently used
structure is as follows:
Zemin (a) (Introduction)
Nakarat (b) (Refrain)
Miyan (C) (Interval)
Nakarat (b) (Refrain)
Comp. Abdülkadir Meragi
Amed nesim-i subhudem tersem ki azareş küned
Tahrik-i zül f-i anbereş ez hab bi dareş küned
Sultanıma sultanıma rahmet be künder canıma
Andemki can berleb resid hemraki kün imanıma
I fear that the morning breeze will disturb my beloved
and rouse her by teasing her amber-scented hair.
Almighty Sultan, have pity on our soul,
and when our lips part to release our soul,
be the companion of our faith.
Beste (composition) means “tied” in Persian. The term is used in the sense of the words and the melody
being tied to one another. After the kâr, the beste is the most comprehensive musical form and, in the
classical Fasıl, it is performed after the kâr. It consists of four hane; each hane is one line, and the beste
contains four lines. The lyrics are taken from a gazel, from the Divan literature. After each line there is
a section called the terennüm (vocal refrain). The terennüm are divided into two groups, ikaî and lâfzî.
The terennüm ikaî are syllabic groups which have no intrinsic meaning, but they are directly related to
the rhythmic beats; for example, “Düm re la”, “Yel lel li”, “Ten nen ni”, “Tadir ney”, “Te ne nen”. The
lâfzî terennüm, on the other hand, does have a meaning, but it does not form part of the lyrics, that is to
say, they are words that the composer has added to the piece, such as “A sultanım” (“Oh, my Sultan”),
“Hey mirim” (“Ah, my treasure”), “A canım” (“Ah, my heart”), “serv-i revanım” (“walking cypress”),
used to compliment the tall, slender object of the poet’s love, and “ruh-i revanım” (“walking spirit”), also
uttered in praise of the beloved’s purity.
The beste are divided into two groups: murabba beste and nakış beste.
In the murabba beste, the terennüm is performed after each line. Murabba is a poem of 3 - 7 four-line
stanzas. From the point of view of the melodic structure, the murabba beste is as follows:
Line 1
Line 2
Line 3
Line 4
The first line and its terennüm form the zemin hâne (A+B) (introductory section)
The second line and its terennüm form the nakarat hâne (A+B) (refrain)
The third line and its terennüm form the miyan hâne (A+B) (interval)
The fourth line and its terennüm form the nakarat hâne (A+B) (refrain)
In the nakış beste, the lâfzî terennüm comes after every second line. Nakış means “adornment”. However,
there are also some bestes which are referred to as nakış beste because of the length of the terennüm or
simply because of their rhythms. From the point of view of the melodic structure, the nakış beste is as
Line 1
Line 2
Line 3
Line 4
Cantemir in Istanbul,
Cantemir’s Istanbul
History has bound Cantemir and the Ottoman capital together with deep ties woven with a thousand and
one threads as mysterious as the tales told by Scheherazade.
The first and second lines plus their terennüm form the zemin hâne (introductory section) and the
nakarat hâne (refrain) (A+B+C).
The third and fourth lines plus their terennüm form the miyan hâne (interval) (D+B+C).
Both types of beste have been used in a variety of ways, but these are the most commonly found.
Translated by Jacqueline Minett
A renowned European historian, scholar, man of letters and musician, Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723)
spent almost half of his life on the banks of the Bosphorus: about twenty-two years, with a few
interruptions, from 1688 to 1691, and then from 1693 to November 1710, a long period during which he
had to bide his time, a prey to uncertainty, until the sultan allowed him to accede to the throne of his
native Moldavia, which was at that time under Ottoman rule. After ruling only a few months (November
1710 - July 1711) and following the resounding failure in July 1711 of his war of independence against
the Sublime Porte, in which he fought alongside Peter the Great, he ended his days in Russia, leaving a
prolific legacy of works covering a wide variety of fields: historiography, literature, philosophy,
theology and music 1 .
Istanbul therefore represents an essential chapter in the life of this wide-ranging intellectual, upon whom
Voltaire heaped praise, notably in recognition of his History of the Ottoman Empire, which was first
published in London in 1735. Wholly receptive to Istanbul’s open, tolerant spirit, he in turn contributed
to the cultural life of the city, of which his artistic and literary works provide an invaluable first-hand
Cantemir’s involvement in the life of the city is emblematic of the role played by the capital of the
sultans, that mosaic of peoples, cultures and religions, a melting-pot of the traditions of Europe, Asia and
Africa, the three continents spanned by that great empire, and, more generally, of East and West.
at a cultural crossroads
Numbering some 500,000 souls at the beginning of the 18th century, Istanbul was more populous than
any other European city. It was also one of the most welcoming, as can be seen from its various districts
(or mahalé) which were home to the various ethnic groups and religions which lived side by side in an
atmosphere of relative peace: the Jewish community in Balat, the Greek aristocracy in Fener, the
Levantines and the Europeans in Pera… At the same this happy coexistence acted as a magnet attracting
new synergies to the capital, thereby contributing to its prosperity. Seen from the sea, it was like a vast
flowering garden studded with domes and minarets mirrored in the blue waters of the Bosphorus and the
Sea of Marmara, a source of wonder to the city’s inhabitants and to visitors alike, as the 17th century
Turkish writer and traveller Evliya Çelebi records in his vibrant In Praise of Constantinople:
“I have seen the cities of the whole world,
but I have never seen the like of this.”
Cantemir’s intellectual training during his long stay in Istanbul was profoundly influenced by the city’s
multicultural atmosphere and by the simultaneous influence of the traditions that converged there.
The Byzantine legacy, still to be found in Istanbul, has survived thanks to the presence of a strong,
centuries-old Orthodox Christian community which, under the spiritual authority of the Patriarchate,
became the rallying point for the faithful from all corners of the empire and the Patriarchal Academy
(also known as the “Great School”) therefore exerted a veritable intellectual hegemony. In his Essay on
Universal History, Manners and Spirit of Nations, Voltaire, basing his remarks on Cantemir’s History of
the Ottoman Empire, enthusiastically lists the disciplines taught at the Academy: Ancient and Modern
Greek, the philosophy of Aristotle, theology, medicine…
The Ottoman capital was not simply a meeting-point for the cultures and peoples of this vast empire.
Numerous foreigners, merchants, missionaries, scholars and travellers were conspicuous there,
particularly in the environs of the embassies, which were located high up in the Pera district, a veritable
“display cabinet” of the West.
This was a world with which Cantemir was very familiar. As diplomatic agent for his father, the reigning
prince of Moldavia, from 1688 to 1691, and then for his brother, from 1695 to 1700, while still very
young, he frequented the circle of European, and especially the French, envoys, with whom he was
“almost on family” terms: as he would later write, he enjoyed their friendship “in times of adversity as
well as prosperity.”
What is most striking about the young prince, who examined his own faith in the book The Divan, or the
Sage’s Dispute with the World (published in Rumanian and Greek at Iaşi, in 1698) is his interest Islamic
culture. He also admiringly described the country’s teaching institutions: “The academies, secondary
schools and primary schools, which impart all kinds of education and knowledge, are to be found in
virtually every town, especially in Istanbul. Attended by numerous pupils and others who go to listen to
their teachings, they do not exist anywhere else under the sun as they do in the Turkish Empire.”
Ottoman attitudes were visibly beginning to change, and artists, who would henceforth occupy ringside
seats, were free to observe them at leisure. In particular, the vividly coloured miniatures of the court
artist Abdulcelil Levni painted a sweeping fresco of the Ottoman society of his day, immortalising the
sultans and grand viziers. Although the solemn court scenes continued to figure large, the focus of
attention was increasingly shifting to a new set of characters (foreign ambassadors, merchants, musicians
and dancers) depicted as they went about their daily lives: acrobats performing their tricks, a man
winding his turban, young boys taking part in the circumcision ceremony, women sipping coffee…
This painter who so vividly captured the Ottoman society of his time would be less well known if it had
not been for Cantemir, who paid tribute to him in his History of the Ottoman Empire. Indeed, it was
thanks to Levni that Cantemir managed to obtain copies of the portraits of sultans forming part of the
Topkapi Palace treasure, where it lay beyond the reach of infidels, which added special interest to the
English edition of his book.
This portrait of Istanbul society was admirably taken up and extended by foreign artists. By the end of
Thanks to his keen interest in languages, the prince learned to speak and write Turkish and Arabic, which
gave him access to the subtleties of Islamic teaching. Having thus discovered the literary beauty of the
Coran, he defended Islamic culture against the manifest incomprehension of Europeans: “I can
confidently say”, he writes, “that the peoples of the East are in no way inferior to those of the West.”
And if only Europeans could understand the books of history and poetry and the tales of Ottoman
literature, they would no doubt find them “more eloquent than European works” (System of the
Mohammedan Religion, Saint-Petersburg, 1722).
The reign of Ahmed III (1703-1730), known as “the Tulip Era”, has gone down in history as a period of
unprecedented cultural and artistic progress in the Ottoman world. The signs of this growing openness,
however, were apparent from the end of the 17th century, when a new generation of rulers who were
aware of the benefits to be derived from the arts and scientific knowledge (the grand viziers Köprülü, of
Albanian origin, and the dragomans from the Greek Mavrocordato family, who were in charge of matters
relating to the Porte’s foreign policy, who belonged to) rose to important posts in the State
The civilisation of the printed book, taken to Istanbul in the 15th century by the Spanish Jews to publish
works in Hebrew, gradually spread throughout the Muslim lands, where it came up against the strong
tradition of manuscript books which was fiercely defended by the numerous guilds of calligraphers.
There were already many libraries in Istanbul when, in 1678, a grand vizier of the Köprülü family
established the first institution of this kind open to the public, and which was completely different from
those which already existed in schools and mosques. Continuing this modernising trend, Ahmed III
marked a new era with the building in 1719 of an elegant library in the Third Courtyard of the Palace,
followed by the inauguration in 1728 of the first Turkish printing press under the direction of Ibrahim
Müteferrika, a Christian convert to Islam originally from Transylvania.
Although Cantemir was no longer in Istanbul when the blooms of the Tulip Era were at their most
beautiful, during his stay he was able to appreciate the richness of the city’s libraries, which he most
likely frequented. We know that he had a passion for books: “In every respect” he writes in System of the
Mohammedan Religion, we count ourselves among those who persevere in their own education and
whose learning resides not in their own hearts, but is hidden away in books and libraries.” His dismay at
not finding the books he needed in his new country, Russia, led him to recall with nostalgia the Turkish
libraries that were “replete” with knowledge of all kinds.
The city of flowers and colours
The renewal of Ottoman culture went hand in hand with the Istanbul population’s joie de vivre and
increased appetite for leisure, conviviality and fashionable pleasures.
Flowers - tulips or roses - became the new symbol of a society at peace that was sensitive to the beauty
of nature and a desire for love. A song transmitted by Albertus Bobovius, the illustrious musician who
was Cantemir’s predecessor, extols “the hues of the tulips” which grace the countenance of his beloved
and delight the heart of her adoring lover. Surprisingly in this world of reputed warriors, a new character
appears in the miniatures of the period - a young man delicately holding a flower in his hand.
the 17th century, more and more artists from abroad were following the example of Gentile Bellini,
erstwhile visiting painter to Mehmed II, succumbing to the lure of the Oriental mirage.
Such was the case of the Flemish painter Jean-Baptiste Vanmour, trained in the school of Watteau, who,
at the bidding of the French ambassador Charles de Ferriol, arrived in Istanbul in 1699 to capture on his
canvases the people and places of the Ottoman capital, an activity which in 1725 earned him the title of
“Painter-in-Ordinary to the King” of France. Engravings were made of the resulting pictures for the
impressive volume entitled Recueil de cent estampes représentant différentes nations du Levant,
published in Paris in 1712. Like an graphic report, this work shows the diversity of the Ottoman regions
and the diverse ethnic groups which lived there side by side. Like his Turkish contemporary, the artist
observed not only the scenes of pomp (sultans’ impressive cortèges, audiences with ambassadors, etc.),
but also the scenes everyday life (women drinking coffee, Armenians playing cards, dancers, tanbur
players 2 ) and festive occasions (Greek, Turkish and Jewish weddings…).
The Flemish painter appears to have met Cantemir through the French ambassador, their common
protector. Certain historians have even attributed to him the authorship of a painting (initially housed in
the Musée des beaux-arts in Rouen and, since 1973, in the Romanian National History Museum in
Bucharest) long believed to be a portrait of the Moldavian prince. Recent research, however, has
demolished this theory, proving that the picture is neither the work of the Flemish painter, nor the portrait
of Cantemir. Nevertheless, in the absence of other iconographic sources on this period of his life, the
image continues to be used as a sort of substitute portrait, since the man “in the wig and the turban”
shown in the painting is a perfect fit with our image of Cantemir: that of a character symbolising the
meeting-point of European and Oriental cultures.
“The Orpheuses of the Turkish Empire”
The prince’s dual dimension is not a myth. Although not reflected in any portrait, it is perfectly
expressed in Cantemir’s musical interests. Long before him, a young prisoner called Albertus Bobovius
was captured by the Tartars in Lvov and later converted to Islam, taking the name Ali Ufki Bey. He
became famous as an outstanding santur player and author of a collection of instrumental and vocal
music written in Turkish (1650). Moreover, he published poetic and historical texts, and was also most
probably a miniaturist. He was among the first to describe the specific qualities of Ottoman music, whose
performers did not understand “how to read or write” melodies, and thus resorted to “foreign renegades”
to carry out this “amazing prowess” for them. This is one of the reasons why most of the “musical
retainers in the service of the Great Sultan, who pass for the Orpheuses of the Turkish Empire”,
according to the Conte de Saint-Priest, the future French ambassador to Istanbul, were non-Muslims of
Greek, Jewish and Armenian origin.
The Moldavian prince himself assiduously studied music under two teachers of Greek origin, Kemani
Ahmed Çelebi, and Angeli, alias Tanburi Angeliki. Becoming in his own right a respected teacher,
Cantemir contributed to the training of a new generation of musicians, including a number of reputed
instrumentalists, and even certain notables of the Ottoman hierarchy, such as Davud Ismail Effendi and
Latif Çelebi, the grand treasurers of the Palace.
Cantemir is particularly known for his virtuosity as a tanbur player: “no Constantinopolitan”, wrote the
Moldavian chronicler Ion Neculce, “played better than he did.” To grasp the full meaning of this
notoriety, one needs to know that the tanbur was considered at that time “the most complete and perfect
of all known instruments”, in the words of Cantemir, and “precisely and faultlessly reproduces the song
and voice born of human breath.”
Thanks to his music, the prince gained many supporters in the upper échelons of Ottoman society, where
he was affectionately referred to as “Kantemiroģlu” (“Cantemirson”), or “Kuçuk (little) Kantemiroģlu”.
He enjoyed the protection of a number of prominent persons, including Rami Mehmed Pacha, the poet
and musician who for some time held the position of Grand Vizier. Thus, he succeeded in making his way
in the artistic entourage of the Great Sultan, a milieu usually inaccessible to a Christian prince. As a
supreme proof of the esteem in which he was held, he was asked to produce a major collection of musical
compositions, as well as a treatise on music, which remained in manuscript form, entitled Kitab-i ilm-i
musiki (The Book of the Science of Music), which he dedicated to Sultan Ahmed III.
This contribution came at a crucial moment in the development of Ottoman music, which at that time was
struggling to free itself from the Persian tradition and forge its own, specifically Turkish path. However,
as Cantemir himself observed, although this aspiration was rich in pratice, it lacked a theoretical basis.
Such was the aim of his treatise, the chief novelty of which consisted in a method of alphabetical
notation using Arabic and Turkish letters: in effect, the first original system for the transcription of
Ottoman music. The prince thus made a great stride forward compared with his predecessor Bobovius,
who had resorted to a Euopean-inspired form of notation.
His reflections on music theory are extraordinary. He attaches capital importance to reason, which
distinguishes musical composition from “birdsong, however sweet and beautiful.” It is the faculty of
reason that allows us to fathom “the ocean of musical science”, a realm whose expressive possibilities,
like the combinations of notes and rhythms, are infinite. He compares the laws governing musical
composition to the movements and harmony of the heavenly bodies, even drawing analogies between
“the science of music” and that of medicine: “In the manner of a dissection”, he writes […] “we have
explained the canons and established the rules.”
Providing solid theoretical bases for performance, the treatise and its transcriptions have enabled a
considerable number of melodies that he had heard or composed to be saved from oblivion. In 1751, that
is to say, almost forty years after Cantemir defected to Russia, Charles Fenton, the author of Essai sur la
musique orientale, visited Istanbul and testified to the enduring “great popularity” of Cantemir’s music,
“which still gives great pleasure to audiences.” Thirty years later, in 1781, another traveller, the Italian
Orientalist Giambattista Toderini, also heard “great connoisseurs” refer to “Cantemir’s Turkish airs.”
Not only that: the Moldavian prince was a fervent champion of Ottoman music beyond the confines of
Turkey. In his History of the Ottoman Empire he writes, “Europeans may find it strange that I refer here
to the taste for music of a nation which Christians regard as barbarian.” He admits that “barbarism may
have reigned during the period when the Empire was being forged”, but he goes on to say that, once the
great military conquests were over, the arts, “which are the accustomed fruits of peace, found their place
in those men’s minds.” He concludes with the following words, which must have come as a shock to his
European readers: “I would even venture to say that the music of the Turks is much more perfect than
that of Europe in terms of its metre and the proportion of words, but it is also so difficult to understand
that it is difficult to find more than a handful of individuals with a sound knowledge of the principles and
subtleties of that art.”
Love and betrayal
His enthusiasm for Turkish music should not stop us wondering what other feelings stirred Cantemir’s
heart. The Moldavian prince, who charmed his contemporaries with the strains of his tanbur, was also
overcome with nostalgia for the country of his birth: in one of the philosophical essays he wrote in
Istanbul, which remains in manuscript form, he deplores his “exile on the Bosphorus, as remote as the
captivity in Egypt”, during which he longed for “his beloved homeland.”
Spurred on by his ambitions in pursuit of the throne of Moldavia, Cantemir kept an ever-watchful eye on
the political situation. In 1697, he found himself in the Ottoman army when the latter was routed at the
Battle of Zenta by the troops of Prince Eugene of Savoy. Deeply affected by the “sad spectacle of
carnage”, he became convinced from that moment on that “everything was conspiring to bring about the
downfall of the Turks” and that history was about to take a new turn. This was the guiding principle of
his book Historia incrementorum atque decrementorum Aulae Othomanicae (The history of the growth
and decay of the Ottoman empire), the full title of which immediately points to the inexorable fall of the
Sublime Porte. This impression was reinforced by the prince’s ability to gain inside knowledge of the
intricate workings of Ottoman power, where corruption and greed were rife, which explains the
allegorical description, akin to Dante’s vision of hell, that he gives of the Sublime Porte in his novel The
Hieroglyphic History, written in Rumanian during his time in Istanbul. The novel portrays Istanbul as the
city of greed, in the centre of which stands a temple dedicated to the goddess of concupiscence seated on
a burning throne.
The sweetness of his musical compositions perhaps conveys a hint of the prince’s inner turmoil, torn as
he was between love and hate, between attachment and the desire for freedom.
Clearly, the Istanbul that the prince loved was not the city of despotism and power doomed to inevitable
decline, but rather that Istanbul which had chosen the paths of wisdom and joie de vivre, of music and
poetry, of friendship and peace. If Cantemir’s music is currently enjoying a new lease of life, one of the
reasons is because that message seems as compelling as the harmony and beauty of his melodies.
Translated by Jacqueline Minett
1 For an outline of the life and work of Dimitrie Cantemir, see Jordi Savall, Istanbul: The Book of the Science of Music, Alia Vox, 2009.
2 Tanbur, a long-necked string instrument belonging to the lute family, not to be confused with the percussion instrument
with an almost identical name.
Select bibliography (recent works):
Gopin, Seth, and Eveline Sint Nicolaas, Jean-Baptiste Vanmour, peintre de la Sublime Porte. 1671-1737, Valenciennes, Musée des BeauxArts de Valenciennes, 2009.
Shirine Hamadeh, The City’s Pleasures: Istanbul in the Eighteenth Century, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2008.
Kunt, Ibrahim Metin (dir.), The Cambridge History of Turkey, vols. I, III, IV, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006-2009.
Lemny, Stefan, Les Cantemir. L’aventure européenne d’une famille princière au XVIII e siècle, Paris, Éditions Complexe, 2009.
Monceau, Nicolas (dir.), Istanbul. Histoire, promenades, anthologie & dictionnaire, Paris, Robert Laffont, 2010.
Nefedova, Olga, A Journey into the World of the Ottomans: the Art of Jean-Baptiste Vanmour (1671-1737), Milan, Skira, 2009.
Popescu-Judetz, Eugenia, Three Comparative Essays on Turkish Music, Istanbul, Pan, 2010.
The Sublime Porte
An Open Gateway to Music
It was during the reign of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566), an ally of King Francis 1 of France,
that diplomatic and trade relations were opened up between the Ottoman Empire and the West. As a bridge
between Asia and Europe, Constantinople evolved into a cosmopolitan city that welcomed a host of different
nationals who contributed to its material and intellectual prosperity. Ottoman rulers granted special
privileges to the representatives of the arts and culture in general.
The Ottoman Empire, which thus opened its gates to the West, increasingly became a magnet for a number
of exceptional and distinguished travellers whose interest in all things cultural is reflected in their
observations and travelogues. One of the first outstanding travellers to provide such observations was the
famous Guillaume Postel (1510-1581), an Orientalist and mystic sent by King Francis I in 1535 as the
scientific attaché to the embassy headed by Jean de la Forest; his mission was to collect Oriental manuscripts
for the king’s library. As Professor of Oriental languages at the Royal College founded by Francis I, he
dreamed of reconciling Islam and Christianity. Later, in 1560, Postel published a study entitled De la
République des Turcs et là où l’occasion s’offrira des mœurs et loy de tous les Muhamédistes. This treatise
was one of the earliest works of its kind. Among the musical observations included in the work we find the
following: “The most usual entertainment involves large untuned drums (dawul) and pairs of smaller copper
drums joined together (nakkare, or tam-tams, and kettledrums) and shawms (zurna) similar to those played
in a military band. These combine to produce such a strange sound that our Nations must either cover their
ears or beat a retreat. This overpowering sound is suited only to military campaigns.”
“Another entertainment is also very widespread, due to the great sweetness of sounds produced by the harp
(çenk), which is curved like the back of a large fish. The harp is played by young girls performing in a troupe
of musicians. While one member of the group plays the harp, another plays a small tambourine with a single
skin stretched over the frame, fitted with copper jingles on the rim. Another girl beats out the rhythm with
a pair of clappers made of bone or hard wood (çalpara), and another two or three girls abandon themselves
to some indescribably captivating feats of agility. At the same time, all the musicians sing together
accompanied on the harp.” The report goes on to give a detailed and highly evocative account of the dance
performed by the most beautiful member of the troupe.
The botanist Pierre Belon du Mans was a member of the entourage of the French ambassador Gabriel
d’Aremon, sent to the Sublime Porte from 1547 to 1564. Belon was an open-minded observer of Turkish
culture, including its language, customs, religion, architecture, art, etc. In 1553 in Paris he published a work
entitled Les Observations de plusieurs Singularitez et choses mémorables, trouvées en Grèce, Asie, Judée,
Egypte, Arabie et autres pays étrangers. Pierre Belon’s perceptive observations concerning musical
instruments are of crucial interest. In one passage of his work, Belon emphasises the Turks’ skill at making
lute bow ropes and strings from gut which “are more common here than in Europe.” Belon attributes this
abundance to the incredible number and variety of lutes. He adds that “many people are able to play one or
several types, which is not the case”, he writes, “in France or Italy.” He also mentions the existence of a
great variety of flutes and other wind instruments, among which he notes the presence of the miskal (pan
pipe), which was very fashionable at that time, stressing the wonderful sweetness of its sound. Sixty years
later, in 1614, the Italian traveller Pietro de la Valle described the instrument as consisting of fourteen or
fifteen pipes, blown backwards and forwards. He also adds, however, that “its sweetness of sound does not
equal that of the long flute of the dervishes.”
The miskal, which is mentioned in several accounts from the period, may be related to the famous Greek
syrinx. In fact, this is the name that the Ancient Greeks gave to all instruments belonging to the flute family.
Nevertheless, a distinction was made between the single-reed syrinx and the syrinx polycalamos or
“pan pipes”, the attribute of Pan, the half-goat half-man god of shepherds. This instrument consisted of a
series of stopped pipes of decreasing length joined together with wax or a fine twine. The upper holes were
at the same level so that the player could easily blow across them. Greco-Roman iconography depicts the
syrinx as having between five and thirteen pipes; thus, if La Valle’s account is correct, the miskal must have
had a larger number of pipes. Apart from its pastoral association, in the Roman tradition the pan pipes
formed part of a small ensemble comprising tibia and kithara which accompanied mimes. Syrinx is also the
name that Claude Debussy gave to one of his compositions for solo flute.
We now come to an important account given by a famous “young student of languages” called Charles
Fenton. This description refers to an institution founded in Paris in 1669 by Colbert, the aim of which was
to train “dragomans”, or interpreters, to fill future consular and diplomatic posts in the Ottoman Empire.
Accordingly, children or young men were sent to the convent of Capuchin friars in Istanbul to learn the
principal languages of the whole region, as well as other subjects to fit them for their future role. When they
finished their training, the students had to write a dissertation and send it to the appropriate Minister in Paris.
For the subject of his thesis, Charles Fenton chose Turkish music and its characteristics, while also setting
out to refute the prevailing opinion in the West, which held that the East had no musical art worthy of that
name. To this end, he began his opening discourse with the following words: “Music is a divine art common
to all people on Earth. Its Empire extends to all men; everyone is sensible to its charm. Each nation has its
own music, but musical taste is as peculiar to each individual nation as it is universally found in them all.
The music of the various countries is as different as their manners and customs. However, prejudice often
dictates that while no fault is found with one, another is condemned out of hand. What is valued by one fails
to find acceptance among others. This attitude is especially prevalent among Europeans, who believe nonEuropeans to be benighted and bereft of knowledge of any kind.” Fenton goes on to say that he does not
intend to explore this question, since he does not wish to deviate from his main subject, which is to give a
true idea of Turkish and Oriental music. “But”, he adds, “I fancy I can already hear more than one critic
protesting that it debases the noble art of music to concede that it exists among barbarian and uncouth men…
That it is a travesty of the name of music to squander it on such confusions of disparate instruments, of
voices without harmony, of movements without grace, and of song without delicacy, on such a bizarre
mixture of shrill and grave sounds, on such a combination of disparate sounds and cacophonies, in a word,
on such a hideous symphony, which is more likely to inspire aversion and horror than to delight with
pleasure.” Fenton’s words recall those of his fellow Frenchman Balthasar de Monconys, who a century
earlier had compared the dance of the dervishes to a “witches’ sabbath” and their singing to the howling of
wolves and the baying of dogs.
In his long treatise of more than 150 manuscript pages, Fenton develops a learned discussion of the
principles and characteristics of Turkish music and its instruments, together with a series of transcriptions
in Western musical notation, which followed in the wake of those made by his illustrious predecessors, the
Polish-born Ali Ukfi (Wojciech Bobowski, also known as Albertus Bobovius) and the Moldavian Prince
Dimitrie Cantemir, whom he revered. Ali Ukfi (1610-1675) was taken prisoner by the Tartars and sold as a
slave to the Turks. He was subsequently set free and converted to Islam. He trained at the music school of
Enderun, and in the anthology of songs that he compiled around the year 1650 he was the first person in
Turkey to have used staff notation to write music, although he wrote the notes from right to left, adding
numerous indications on the maqam. Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-4723) became a celebrated performer on the
tanbur (long-necked lute), as well as a highly regarded composer. He was the author of a book entitled
Kitab-i ilm ü Musiki written around 1700, which contained a long theoretical chapter and 366 works
transcribed using a system of notation that he himself had invented. Like Fenton, these two earlier musicians
had come from a different cultural world, but they lived in Istanbul long enough to develop a profound
affinity with Ottoman musical culture and to become highly skilled in it.
Finally, around the middle of the 19th century, Sultan Mahmud II, the instigator of the reform movement
known in Turkey as the tanzimat, after having called on Guiseppe Donizetti, the brother of the composer
Gaetano Donizetti, to train and rehearse a military fanfare, as well as other European-style musical
institutions, sent a first Turkish delegation consisting of 158 students to be trained in the many
conservatoires of the West. One of those students returned to Istanbul after completing his piano studies in
Paris. In the issue of La Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris, 6th year, n. 23, dated June, 1839, we read that
the sultan, a great music lover and admirer of Rossini and Meyerbeer, invited courtiers and French guests to
his palace to take part in a spectacular musical soirée: a young Turkish artist was invited to give a piano
recital in the surroundings of a magnificent hall. The sultan’s august guests were treated to a programme of
music performed by the young pianist which included some piano variations and a sonata by Beethoven.
Translated by Jacqueline Minett
Photo : Toni Peñarroya
Günsoy Dinçer, Hespèrion XXI. Enregistrement à la Collegiale de Cardona (Catalogne)
2. SEGâH KâR
« Kâr-i Seş-âvâz »
Besteci: Hace Abdülkadir Meragi (1350?-1435)
Ya Ali Şir-i yâzdanç dost ya Ali mir-i meydan
Dost ser-fedây-ı hak-i rahet
Ey Ali, Allah’ın arslanı dost Ey Ali meydanın efendisi
Bastığın toprağa seni seven dostun başı feda olsun
2. SEGâH KâR
« Kâr-i Seş-âvâz »
Comp. Hace Abdülkadir Meragi
O Ali, Lion of God, O Ali, our ally, lord of all the earth.
Head of the ally who loves you, be sacrificed for the earth you
walk upon.
Anónimo sefardita
(Esmirna, Turquía s. XVI)
Anonymous Sephardic
(Smyrna, Turkey s. XVI)
Por allí pasó un cavallero
asentado y muy gentil
– Si vos plaze cavallero
de mí tomaréx placer.
There passed that way a knight,
Full noble and handsome was he.
“If such be your pleasure, sir,
You may take your pleasure with me.”
– No lo quere el Dió del cielo
ni me dexa tal hazer
que tengo mujer hermoza
hijos para el bien hazer.
“God who is in heaven forbid
and from such deeds preserve me.
A comely wife and children have I
And for their sake must leave thee.”
– Allí vayáx cavallero
todo topéx al revéz
tu mujer topes con otro
los hijos al mal hazer.
“Then get thee on thy way, fine sir,
May all go ill with thee.
Mayst thou find thy wife with another,
And thy children turned scoundrels see.”
Besteci: Buhuri Zade Mustafa Itri Efendi
Comp. Buhurizade Mustafa Itri Efendi
Dil-i pür-ıztırabım mevce-i seylabdır sensiz
Dü çeşm-i hun-feşanım halka-i girdabdır sensiz
Meta-ı zindegi bar-oldu duş-i cana hicrinl
Dil-i şuride-halim şöyle ki bi-tabdır sensiz
My heart is overwhelmed with pain when you are absent.
My eyes, like whirlpools, shed tears of blood when they cannot
see you.
My life has become a burden since you left me.
My heart, which swells with love and passion, grows dim when
you are absent.
Traditional Hebrew
Have mercy on your sons
who return to you
and stand before you in fear
when you call them to be judged,
for they come to you afflicted.
Remember your mercy
on the Day of Judgment;
forebear from anger and wrath when you judge them.
10. GazEL
Söz: Fuzuli
10. GazEL
Lyrics by Fuzuli
Beni candan usandırdı cefadan yar usanmaz mı
Felekler yandı ahımdan muradım şem-i yanmaz mı
Şeb-i hicran yanar canım döker kan çeş mi giryanım
Uyarır halkı efganım kara bahtım uyanmaz mı
I am weary of so much torment; why does my lover never tire
of prolonging my agony?
Fate has heard my complaints; would it not light the candle of
my hopes?
On the night of our parting my soul burns, my weeping eyes
shed blood instead of tears.
All are woken by my cries; why do my cries not wake my fate?
12. PuNXa La ROSa
Romance - Anónimo sefardí
Ballad - Anonymous Sephardic
Punxa la rosa huele
Tu no nacistes para mi
Presto aléxate de mi
que el amor muncho duele.
Thorny rose that smells so sweet,
you were not born to be mine.
Make haste and vanish from my side,
for love gives so much pain.
Besteci: Tanburi Mustafa Çavuş
Söz: Hıfzi
Comp. Tanburi Mustafa Çavuş
Lyrics by Hifzi
Dök zülfünü meydana gel
Sür atını ferzane gel
Al daireni hengame gel
Bülbül senin gülşen senin
Yar amman amman
Aşıkınım hayli zaman
Dil muntazır teşrifine
Gel amman amman
Let down your tresses and ride to town!
Mount your horse and come to me for wisdom!
Bring your instrument and come to my humble home.
The nightingales and the rose garden are yours.
I have been in love with you so long.
My heart yearns for you to come.
Oh come, I beg you, come!
Verdin cevap ünvan ile
Yakdın sinem suzan ile
Müştak sana bin can ile
Bülbül senin gülşen senin
Yar amman amman
Aşıkınım hayli zaman
Dil muntazır teşrifine
Gel amman amman
You answered me so courteously
You seared my breast with your fire.
Had I a thousand souls, I would desire you with them all.
The nightingales and the rose garden are yours.
I have loved you for so long.
My heart yearns for you to come.
Oh come, I beg you, come!
Besteci: Abdülkadir Meragi
Komp. Abdulkadir Meragi
Amed nesim-i subhudem tersem ki azareş küned
Tahrik-i zül f-i anbereş ez hab bi dareş küned
Sultanıma sultanıma rahmet be künder canıma
Andemki can berleb resid hemraki kün imanıma
I fear that the morning breeze will disturb my beloved
and rouse her by teasing her scented hair.
Almighty Sultan, look upon our life with mercy and grace,
and when our lips part to release our soul,
may that mercy and grace be the companions of our faith.
Translated by Jacqueline Minett
Photo : David Ignaszewski
Jordi Savall