Ahmed Adnan Saygun

This Turkish composer gets at least four different spelling variations at Last.fm; an astonishing twenty two if you allow for all mentions of something approximating his name! The one shown here, however, is the only correct spelling, as per his rather short entry in New Groves (to be fair, he was still alive when my edition of New Groves was printed, so maybe they were keeping it brief to avoid libel lawsuits!)

He was born in 1907 and died in 1991 and is often thought of in relation to Turkey as Sibelius is to Finland (i.e., in a quasi-nationalist 'champion of local music idioms' way). You could equally well, however, regard him as Turkey's Bartók or Vaughan Williams: he was a keen ethnomusicologist and studied traditional Turkish folk music at length. Indeed, on one occasion in 1936, he travelled through Anatolia collecting examples of Turkish folk tunes with Bartók himself! Much of his own music therefore tends to be a bit of a fusion of standard Western European techniques with Turkish folk influences. He wrote operas (five of them), symphonies (five numbered ones), and various orchestral works in addition to the usual slew of chamber, piano and choral pieces. He also has an oratorio to his name: Yunus Emre, written in 1946, based on the writings of the Anatolian mystic of the same name and depicting a spiritual journey from contemplating death to reuniting with God. It was the widespread success of this oratorio throughout Europe and elsewhere (Stokowski performed it at the UN in 1956, for example) that persuaded Saygun to write additional large-scale works.

From 1964, Saygun taught composition at the State Conservatory in Ankara, taking on an additional teaching post at the Istanbul State Conservatory in 1972. He died of unspecified 'natural causes', aged 84.

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Music Plays from my collection
(since January 9th 2021)

Date of PlayTime of PlayGenreCompositionLengthPlay Count
Date of PlayTime of PlayGenreCompositionLengthPlay Count