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Published May 19th 2014
A conversation about classical Turkish music is like exploring the new frontiers in Star Trek. The music is centuries old like its civilisation, rich with folk ballads, sacred chants and lullabies. It is also a music of faith and an expression of edification, tranquility and love in Turkey. Here are 5 top venues to enjoy the unique and original sounds.
The pinnacle of Turkish classical music is the Mevlevi music. This prayer-like music that accompanies the whirling ceremony is a mixture of instrumental and chant from the Quran. You can enjoy this unique composition at the Gelibolu Mevlevihane where performances are regularly held. For more information,visit the website.
2. Dede Efendi House
Hammamizade İsmail Dede Efendi's house in Kumkapi / Photo from TheWah of Wikimedia Commons
Once the home of leading Turkish composer Hammamizade Ismail Dede Efendi, the Dede Efendi House is now a museum and salon for cultural events. Located near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, the titan of Turkish composers created the best examples of Turkish and Mevlevi music and trained his students in his home. The Association for the Protection of Turkish Historical Houses now holds Turkish music concerts in the venue. Check out their website for details.
The military bands that instilled fear in the enemies of the Ottoman empire were the peacetime orchestra. Known as Mehterhane, their music was delivered by a large ensemble of pipes and drums. Mehter music inspired western operas, symphonies and concertos in the style of the Turkish military band in the 18th century. Unfortunately the music disappeared when Sultan Mahmud II abolished the band. Fortunately you can still hear Mehter music today thanks to the programs at the Harbiye Military Museum in Istanbul. For more information, visit the Museum's website.
4. The Palace School
Gate of Felicity in Topkapı Palace / Photo from JoJan of Wikimedia Commons
The Palace School or Enderun was the training grounds of the top composers of classic Turkish music. This university from the time of Mehmed the Conqueror welcomed students from all over the Islamic world to be educated in music in addition to poetry, law, astronomy, geography, calligraphy, painting and archery. It is located in the Topkapı Palace Museum. For more information, visit the Museum website.
5. Üsküdar Music Society
Photo courtesy of Üsküdar Music Society
The Üsküdar Musical Society, led by esteemed composer and teacher Emin Ongan for decades, continues to inspire interest in Turkish art music. The organisation has trained many prominent musicians and performers over the years. Today it continues to keep the traditional Turkish music alive and is well known for its choir at different age groups and level. Visit their website for more information on their choruses.