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Bülent Aksoy

Bülent Aksoy - Musıcal Relationshıps Between Italy and  Turkey  Through Turkish Eyes…

Musıcal Relationshıps Between Italy and Turkey Through Turkish Eyes…
Yazı Tarihi: 9 Mart 2019 Cumartesi

Giuseppe Donizetti'yi doğum yeri Bergamo'da anmak… Bülent Aksoy

Bu metni 4 Aralık 2007'de, Giuseppe Donizetti'nin doğum yeri, İtalya'nın Bergamo şehrinde düzenlenen Giuseppe Donizetti konulu uluslararası toplantıda bildiri olarak sunmuştum. Türkiye için önemli bir tarihî kişilik olan, bu  ülkede yayımlanan bütün ansiklopedilerde "Donizetti Paşa" unvanıyla madde başı olarak yer alan Giuseppe Donizetti tanınmış opera bestecisi Gaetano Donizetti'nin kardeşi, üstelik musıkişinas olduğu halde, çok yakın bir geçmişe kadar İtalya'da tanınmıyordu.

Giuseppe Donizetti'nin Türkiye'deki çalışmalarından nice yıllar pek haberdar olmayan İtalyanların ondokuzuncu yüzyılda Istanbul'da önemli faaliyetlerde bulunan öteki İtalyanların, hele Türkiye'de yerleşmiş olan İtalyan kökenli Levantenlerin musıki faaliyetlerinden haberdar olmaları düşünülemezdi.  

Ondokuzuncu yüzyıl Osmanlı modernleşmesine İtalyanlar damgasını vurmuştur, özellikle musıki ile mimarlıkta. Ne var ki,  Osmanlı ülkesi ile İtalyan devletleri arasındaki ilişkiler ondokuzuncu yüzyıl ile sınırlı değildi. İki ülke arasındaki ilişkilerin yüzyıllar öncesine dayanan çok uzun bir geçmişi vardı.  Bu bildiriyi bizim daha iyi bildiğimiz, ama İtalyanların daha yeni yeni fark ettikleri İtalya - Türkiye  musıki ilişkilerinin uzun geçmişine dikkati çekmek amacıyla hazırlamıştım. (1)

Bülent Aksoy  

Bergamo, Italy, 4 December 2007  




Italian - Turkish musical relations go far back in history, exceeding the musical horizons of today’s Italy and Turkey. Both lands used to belong, many centuries ago, to the Roman Empire where Rome and  Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) were the chief cultural centres.  

Before the Great Schism in 1054  both the eastern and western sections of the empire used to share similar cultures. This might have been true even in music, but musical history does not shed enough light on the nature of this probably-the-same musical tradition. It is still a  great question awaiting to be elucidated how the two traditions became isolated and developed in two different directions. As far as I know there are very few scholars in the world who are dealing with this question [1] .

Consequently,  the West and East have become musically isolated.  The truth  is that both churches have for at least ten centuries performed religious music in completely different styles. Anybody who today hears the music of these two churches can  easily see that they have remained  for many centuries completely alien to each other.  

Turks stepped in Anatolia in 1071. They were from a Muslim culture prevalent in the Middle-East. Ottomans of the fourteenth century established their state in the Marmara region. The state they formed  showed a rapid development and grew into an empire within a relatively short span of time.

The conquest of Constantinople in 1453 made the city a centre of attraction for the musicians active in the élite Islamic cities of the Eastern Mediterranean  area. The reorganised Istanbul became also the historical meeting point of  Muslim Turkish and Christian Eastern Roman musical genres.

Non-Muslim populations of Ottoman Turkey, namely the Greeks, Armenians and Jews,  remained  faithful to their local musical traditions and never took interest in European music. However, it was possible to hear European music in the old Istanbul. The Italians – Genoeses, Venetians, Florentines –  and the Levantines, most of whom were of Italian origin, living in the Galata district of Istanbul enjoyed themselves with their own music. This Italian community never disappeared from Istanbul. It was these same Italians who would be much more noticeable and active in the nineteenth century and who made a historic contribution to Turkish musical culture. Naturally, in the Italian churches in Istanbul Catholic liturgical music was performed.  These Latin churches had organs and  the Turks who were curious to hear Western melody could go and listen to music performed on the organ. Also on special national and religious days European embassies organised entertainments in which their local songs or art music pieces were performed. 

Of the relationships between the Ottoman-Turkey and Western Europe,  those with the Italians is most probably chronologically the oldest. A large number of travelbooks written by Italian travellers attest to this historical fact. According to standard Turkish sources it seems the first contact of Turkish people with Western music occurred in 1543 when the French king François I  sent an orchestra to Sultan Suleyman II  to thank him for his support in his country’s struggle against Spain. However, recent research reveals that Turks first came to contact with Western music through Italian musicians. In 1524, the Italians who were living in Istanbul  rejoiced at the peace established between the Italian city-states and  organised a  kind of  ballet performance at the home of  the Venetian bailo (cited by And,  p. 13)  to  celebrate this happy development. Apart from establishing the first Turkish contact with Western music, this performance is remarkable for the following three reasons: A ballet performance was held in Istanbul long before the the rise of  “ballet proper”; Turks were present at the performance as both dancers and spectators;  Italians came together with Turks to celebrate this happy event (see And, p. 13-14).

Many Italian travellers and observers took interest in Turkish music and tried to describe it  to their readers. We learn from Italian and French travellers that a musical instrument named colascione (the word appeared in Italian sources in various spellings such as  colascioncino, colascioenino, colacio) was played both in Venice and Istanbul especially in the sixteenth and and sevententh centuries. The same musical instrument was played in Padua too. Colascione was a kind of lute with a long neck, similar to the Turkish folk music instrument bağlama.

Colascione was first seen in the fifteenth century in Italy, in the seventeenth  and eighteenth centuries it was used  together with the European lute (liuto) in the same musical group but subsequently it could not compete with the liuto and fell into oblivion.  Yet it did not altogether disappear before the end  of the eighteenth century  in Italy.  Villoteau, the French researcher who was at the service of  Napoléon Bonaparte, wrote that a musical instrument he saw in Egypt between 1798-1800 was exactly the same as the one that was played by common people in Venice. Villoteau  also published  the illustrations of the musical instrument he saw and they are exactly the same as today’s baglama. Various illustrations of the instrument found in many other sources attest to the fact that the colascione was not a uniform musical instrument  but one that had various forms in different proportions, with different number of strings and frets. This means that the word colachione was used in Italy as a generic term for similar stringed musical instruments just like the Turkish baglama, which also refers to a family of Turkish lutes apart from any of its  members.   

For many centuries before the eighteenth century gut strings had been used in the members of the baglama.  It seems in the eighteenth century metal-stringed Turkish lutes were commoner than those with gut strings, and metal strings must have begun to be imported  from Venice in the late eighteenth century. Turkish folk poet Dertli’s (1772-1845)  well-known hemistich (Venedik’ten gelir teli / Ardiç agacindan kolu [Its neck is made of juniper / and its strings come from Venice] ) witnesses this new development.     

The presence of this musical instrument in Italy, no doubt, would create or was already an outcome of some “musical traffic” between the west and east of the Mediterranean.  To introduce the music he had heard in the seventeenth century in Turkey to his French readers the French traveller Sieur de Poullet made the following reference:  “....  I shall not go on any further about the charms of this music [Turkish music], because I believe that all the Frenchmen who have been in Venice .... have heard it.”  (p. 62)   Both Istanbul and Venice were very active ports in the Mediterranean trade. Sailors working on ships shuttling between Venice and Istanbul had to spend a few days in these cities. Such frequently occurring occasions must have caused a number of give-and-take instances at popular music level.

The following  observation is an example of such exchange:  “What airs are now popular

use are borrowed from the Venetian mariners, and, simple or rude as they may be, are two complicated for the imitation of the modern Greeks who can never memorize  the second part of any tune.  I have heard the air of Malbruc innumerable times, adopted to their own words .... This observation refers only  to the vulgar; those of education prefer Italian music.” (James Dallaway, 1797, p. 414)   As we understand from this observation  both genres of European music, the one for the commons and the one for the educated people came from Venice. 

The English navy officer Adolphus Slade, who came to Istanbul in 1829, records in his memoirs that he heard  the popular European song “Malbrook” from the western style  military band which was at the service of a Turkish pasha.  However, this song was (as known, this popular tune has been employed  as a short theme in Beethoven’s war symphony  “Wellington’s Victory”)  known in Turkey by common people in Istanbul even before it entered the repertoire of official Turkish bands. One can also conclude that the greater part of the European musical instruments which had came into the common “musical circulation” for several centuries came predominantly through this channel, that is Venice – Istanbul  connection.

For many centuries western European music, but especially Italian music has made its way to Turkey although not at regular intervals.  Italian opera was famous in Istanbul even in the seventeenth century.  Its fame did not escape the notice of the Ottoman court in this century.  Sultan Mehmed IV wanted to create a  grand festivity in 1675 in Edirne for the circumcision of his sons, an event which also would bring together the marriage ceremonies of his daughter Hatice Sultan.  Köprülü Fazil Ahmed Pasha, the Sultan’s chief vizier,  had asked the Venetian bailo in Istanbul  to invite an Italian opera ensemble to give a performance during the festivity. However, since there was  little time left before the festivity the Sultan’s plan to organise such a great activity inevitably remained  unaccomplished. Yet European music was included in the same festivity and organs were played.             

According to Turkish sources the first sultan who listened to opera music is Sultan  Selim III. In 1797 a group of  musicians performed an opera in the imperial court before the sultan, and this special event has been recorded by Sultan Selim’s confidential clerk (see Library of Topkapi Palace, mss. no. 749, f. 74).  The clerk revealed nothing about the subject of the opera and identity of the composer. However, I found  some more  about this special occasion from a French observer. France’s consul in Morea, M. Pouqueville, who could manage to have  access to the Court  with the help of a German who was at the service of  the sultan, gives us the following information about the same event:


          “In the last year before the war with France, the Sultan  wanted

           to enjoy at his palace  the  spectacle of a commedia. For this

           purpose, he had some Italians of  Pera invited to  produce a

           piece. The sweetness of Italian music, its charms seemed not to

           move Selim; the European dances were not at all to his taste.”  

           (p. 207, my translation)          

The two accounts complement one another: While the Sultan’s confidential clerk records that it was an opera, M. Pouqueville adds that it was an Italian opera. The reference to war with France in the Frenchman’s  account makes it clear that it was  in the year 1797.  As for the impression given therein that the Sultan did not enjoy the “sweetness of Italian  music” should not  divert our attention since the point here is that the Sultan took interest in European music and created an occasion in his palace to have it. Both historical accounts also attest to the fact that it was possible to hear Italian opera music in Istanbul and that there were already performing opera ensembles in the city before Italian opera was officially introduced into Turkey.   

In the westernisation process of Turkey, Italian musicians and music teachers played  the chief role.  It is impossible to see all the dimensions of Italian contribution within limited time. In fact such a task requries writing a book or reading a number of  books.  Here let me give you some snapshots for  the Italian impact  on Turkish musical life. It would be very appropriate to begin with Giusseppe Donizetti.     

When Sultan Mahmud II  wanted to form  a military band and orchestra in the European manner he invited Giuseppe Donizetti, brother of the  famous opera composer Gaetano Donizetti, in 1828 to Istanbul and appointed him the conductor.  Giuseppe Donizetti

reorganised the musical  activities  at official level and extended them to form  the first modern Turkish conservatory in 1831, consequently introducing Western music into Turkey. As compared to the dates at which the first conservatories established in several European countries, 1831 is apparently an earlier date.  

Donizetti spent twenty-eight years in Istanbul and died and buried in this city (1856).  Needless to say, Giusseppe has passed into Turkish history, and in every Turkish encylopaedia and music dictionary one can find an entry for Giuseppe Donizetti or Donizetti Pasha [2].  

Donizetti was followed by Callisto Guatelli (d. 1899). Guatelli’s contribution is also significant enough to mention here. Before Guatelli’s conductorship Turkish military bands used to play European marches.  Seeing this Guatelli advised his pupils in the military band  to compose songs taking as a model the contours of the local Turkish songs and employing traditional Turkish musical motifs. Regarding the marches composed by Guatelli’s pupils and those of the following generations,  his valuable advise did make an impact on the young Turkish musicians. I should also note that Guatelli himself composed several marches making use of  Turkish melodic contours. As a matter of fact, the best loved Turkish marches display a style peculiar to traditional Turkish songs [3].

In the nineteenth century and early twentieth century the Ottoman Empire did not have a fixed national anthem. The marches composed by and dedicated to the sultans were also the national anthems of the state at the time, and every new sultan wanted the military bands to perform the anthem composed in honour of him as the symbol representing the state. Accordingly, the march  “Mahmudiye” for Sultan Mahmud II,  “Mecidiye” for Sultan Abdülmecid,  “Aziziye” for Sultan Abdulaziz and “Reşadiye” for Sultan Reşad  served as national anthems during the rule of these sultans. Turkish musical history records that the following Italian musicians have composed marches and dedicated them to the sultans:  Giuseppe Donizetti (the credit to have composed first Turkish national anthem goes to him), Callisto Guatelli, Gioacchino Rossini, Italo Selvelli,  Luigi Arditi,  Angelo Mariani, Henri Furlani, B. Pisani, G. Rubele and Rosario Nava (the scores of some of these marches can be found in Etem Üngör’s book TürkMarşlari ). Of course, it was not limited to Italians to compose music in honour of the sultans. French, German and Austrian musicians also composed several songs although they are not as numeorus as those by the Italians. Almost all of European composers received  imperial honours, medals and money  for the music they had written. European musicians who visited Istanbul to give concerts wished to write a song to dedicate to the sultans, and surprisingly some of them sent their music from their country even though they never came to Istanbul. Three of them are worth mentioning here: Gioacchino Rossini,  Johann Strauss and Camille Saint-Säens.

The nineteenth century in Turkey’s musical life has by and large been devoted to activities intended to adopt Western classical music, with most of the musical  work being concentrated on opera.  The city then became one of the major cultural centres of Europe. Leading European composers and musicians who were on tour in other countries extended their programmes to give concerts and recitals and some of them stayed for several years in Istanbul. Franz Liszt, Henry Vieuxtemps, Angelo Mariani, Luigi Arditi, August von Adelburg, and Leopold Auer were among these musicians.  Of these the two Italians, Arditi and Mariani, were two leading conductors of the nineteenth century.     

Many famous operas written by such distinguished composers as Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini and several others were performed in Istanbul a very short time after they had been performed in Venice, Vienna or Paris.  Naturally, Italian opera was in the centre in this process. Contacts with opera music at official level started as early as with Giussepe Donizetti, who did not limit his programme to military music. His military band could perform opera pieces. The English navy officer Adolphus Slade saw that in 1929, only one year after Donizetti’s arrival in Istanbul, the band performed a tune from one of  Rossini’s operas. Having surprised  at hearing a Rossini aria in the streets of Istanbul,  the English officer met Donizetti, the conductor of the orchestra, and  asked  him information.  Slade’s conversation with Donizetti attests to his great confidence in his pupils: “These boys are so talented that they don’t escape notice even in Italy.”  (Slade, pp. 71-72)       

It is interesting that when Gaetano Donizetti wrote his opera Belisario whose story was taken from Byzantine life, when his brother Giuseppe was in Istanbul. This opera had its première in 1836 in Venice. A short while after its first performance the opera was performed in Istanbul in 1840 by an Italian opera ensemble in Theatre Bosco (supra), a theatre-house that belonged to an Italian. It should not have been a mere coincidence  that the composer had chosen an Eastern Roman story.

Another such little detail:  history records that Verdi’s opera Aida had its world premiére in Cairo in 1871.  A  recently discovered  historical record  reveals that the ensemble who would perform Aida had to stay a few days in Izmir due to stormy weather at the Aegean Sea  on their rather long way to Cairo. During their sojourn in Izmir the musicians needed  to have a general rehearsal at a theatre-house in the city, and this rehearsal was made open to the public. The rehearsal attracted  a great number of spectators, which was an unexpected event. Seeing the theatre-house was crowded  with  spectators,  the ensemble gave an informal performance the following evening.  According to this record, Aida has been  introduced first to Izmir, then to Cairo [4].

The Italian community living in Istanbul included talented individuals in music and dramatic arts. Some of them were born in Istanbul and others came from Italy and stayed a long time in Turkey. It should  be of no surprise that we find Italians in every aspect of the musical activites in Istanbul in those years.

The nineteenth century Turkey had opera and theatre houses built or owned by the Italians living in Istanbul. In the Pera (or Beyoğlu) district of Istanbul  where the  concert halls and theatres concentrated there were leading opera  houses: FransizTiyatrosu  (the French Theatre), Naum’s Theatre (formerly Theatre Bosco) and  Concordia. The first of these houses  was  built by a Venetian  by the name of Giustiniani Barthelemi; the second one belonged to an Italian illusionist by the name of Bosco, who later sold his building to  Naum, a  Catholic Syrian impresario. Concordia, the third house,  was a kind of cabare or night-club,  and it was later  changed into a  theatre-house by two Italians by the names of Ricci and Parmeggiani (And,  p. 52).  

The nineteenth century Istanbul  also had at least five music or opera societies formed by the local Italians. The most active and long-lived of these societies was Societa Operaja. The others were Ausania, Societa Musicale Italiano and Unione Drammatica di Constantinopoli. Apart from inviting musical groups from Italy and organising opera performances, musical plays, concerts,  these societies also offered music courses to the public.  

In the operas staged in the nineteenth century the greater part of the actors and actresses who took part  in the performances were Italian musicians. Sultan Abdulhamid II (ruled between 1876-1909), who was a lover of opera and operetta music, had a permanent  ensemble at his service at Yildiz Palace whose actors and actresses were all Italians,  unlike the former sultans who occasionally invited the visiting ensembles performing operas and operettes in the city to the palace. 

Another aspect of Italian music in Turkey:  Some  Italians who settled  in Turkey and those who visited Istanbul as the members of a musical ensemble wrote some operas and they have been staged in Turkey.  The first of such operas is Giselda, composed by a certain Lombardi, was performed in Naum’s Theatre in 1851.  L’Assedio di Silistra (1855), composed by Giacomo Panizza from Milano,  Claudia (1902) by Giovanni Avolio who was an Italian living in Istanbul, AmoreOcculto (1904) by Vittorio Radeglia, again an Italian from Istanbul, are among other such operas (see And, pp. 59-68). It is clear that “Italian musicians in Turkey”  is a new subject for the future researchers.      

The first Turkish opera and operetta composer is Dikran Çuhaciyan (1836-1898). Çuhaciyan had musical training for two years in Milano. We also  know that  he showed great admiration for Verdi’s  operas.    

In  1914  the Municipality of Istanbul  formed a conservatory, Darulbedayi, which has a unique place in Turkish cultural history. The conservatory had two departments: Theatre and Music departments. In the music department several Italians were in the faculty  such as Italo Selvelli, Vittorio Radeglia, Giovanni Avolio and Henri Furlani. Opera was regarded as the most important genre in music in this period, and the chief aim of the musical circles in this period was to create national Turkish opera. This aspiration did not fade even in the early Republican period. Atatürk himself encouraged Turkish musicians to compose an opera based on legendary stories.        

After Donizetti and Guatelli many Italian musicians and music instructors came  to Istanbul. Within this process many Italian musical terms made their way into Turkish, and a greatar part of them remained  in Turkish in their Italian pronunciations such as nota, scala, battuta, tempo, musica, banda, prima donna, falso, korno, basso, canto, etc. Also the terms for notes “do, re, mi...” came into Turkish through Italian.  The words prova, compagnia (Turks read it “kumpanya”), impresario, teatro and pagliacco are other related terms of musical activity that came directly from Italian into Turkish. 

Of these, two of them should be more of interest:  musica and canto. The band and orchestra and the music school founded by Donizzeti was named “Muzika-i  Hümayun”, which means “Music of the Imperial Court”.   It is a strange phrase as it is made up of  one Italian and one (Turkicised)  Persian word.  In those days the orchestra  conducted by Donizetti used to give street concerts almost everyday, and people seeing the band was marching used to say “Muzika is coming, muzika  is going....”  Since the name Muzika-i  Hümayun was a bit long and difficult to pronounce it was soon abbreviated to “muzika”. Through popular repetition the word became corrupted and changed into “mizika”.  Consequently, the Italian word underwent a semantic shift. It came to mean in Turkish a military band or civilian orchestra that performs military marches, national songs and light classical pieces. This new word  is still used in this sense in Turkish, such as the Mizika of the Navy, Mizika of the Army, or Mizika of the Air Forces.

The other interesting Italian word  is “canto”, which means “song”. This is the story of “canto” in Turkish:  During the last quarter of the nineteenth century a  new  kind of popular song was developed  in Istanbul. Although the song included local melodic contours, it  sounded more like a European melody, and it was  probably inspired or believed to be inspired  by  Italian popular music of those days. Greater part of these songs were originally arranged or composed by non-Muslim female musicians most of whom were Armenians who at the time seemed to be closer to popular European musical vogues. Yet it is interesting that this kind of song was named by an Italian word: canto, or  kanto (in  its Turkish spelling). These kantos have not remained a passing vogue. They soon became established and Muslim musicians  began to compose new cantos. For at least fifty years cantos existed on the popular musical stage in Turkey. Modern Turkish pop music has its roots with the cantos of those years.

Alongside with their favourable historic contributions to the terminology of Turkish music, Italians made an unfavourable contribution too. When Donizetti came to Turkey, Ottoman art music with its deeply rooted tradition was the officially supported music in the imperial court. When European music was introduced into Turkey by Donizetti and other Italians two kinds of music started to be heard in the Ottoman court. These Italian musicians and music teachers who have heard Turkish art music performed in the Court called it "music allaturca."  It was obviously an incorrect and irrelevant term since allaturca meant "in Turkish style" and any musical piece composed by Turks could not have been "music in Turkish style" but simply Turkish music. Mozart was the first musician who used this term somewhat in a different sense, and since his A-Major Piano Sonata (Köchel no: T. 331) it had become a generic term in European music only for "compositions inspired by Turkish music.”  Paradoxically, this term became established in Turkish with its distorted meaning and many Turks began to use it as well. On the other hand, in those years European music being taught and performed in the Sultan's court gave rise to a cultural duality and eventually a cultural clash. This clash brought forth the term "allafranga", which pejoratively meant music in the Franks' or European style, as reaction to the so-called  allaturca. Needless to say, the term allafranga was irrelevant too [5].

To recapitulate,  Ottoman Turkey was never completely closed  to Western music. It was possible to hear European music in Istanbul even during the earlier phases of the Ottoman Empire. The renowned Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi in his Travels, written roughly between 1630 and 1670,  gives long lists of musical instruments played in Istanbul. In 1638 he describes the characteristics of every musical instrument he mentions and  finally states that some of the instruments therein belong to "other lands". This significant historical record shows that even in the first half of the sevententh century one could find the music of  several nationalities, religions and foreign cultures in Istanbul.  Even long before the nineteenth century when European music was officially introduced into Turkey, popular European melodies could reach Istanbul.  The nineteenth century is apparently marked by the Italians:  Italian music, Italian musicians, Italian instructors and Italian taste.  I should also add that some of the Ottoman sultans, princes and princesses  who took interest in European music, composed pieces inspired especially by the Italian style.

One may well ask now: What  has been the contribution and  impact of  these musical activities?  We should admit  that all these spectacular musical activities  appealed at the time only to a few thousands of people, an élite, a happy few most of whom were Levantines. We should also include in this group some few Turks, closer to Western culture. Yet when considered in the long run these musical activities have accumulated  among the Turks remarkable familiarity with Western art. Those who could have access to Western culture  have seen the technical aspects of  this new music and  also become acquainted with the canonised repertoire of  European music, especially that of opera and operetta. It should be of no surprise that in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century Turkish composers showed significant achievement  in writing  musical plays. Several musicians who could write operettas and libretti and perform them have been brought up in Turkey. Their experience caused a new tradition to exist. This tradition grew stronger and made contributions to the musical activities inaugurated with fresh energy in the Republican era.  Western art music was not sent to the Republican Turkey from heavens. Before the proclamation of the Republic in 1923,  Turkey had one symphony orchestra, numerous military and civilian bands, many good musicians who not only performed but also composed  music  in Western style – operas, operettas, choral and orchestral works, ballet suits, military marches, etc – , many music instructors, teachers, and also lovers of music who could appreciate this foreign art, in brief,  a Western music experience of one hundred years old.

Polyphonic music was born in Italy and it is an Italian contribution to world culture. In this context all nations owe this music to Italy. However, unlike other countries, Turkey has not only been impressed by Italian music but received official contribution  from Italy and active support from Italian musicians due to the historical relations between the east and west of the Mediterranean. Even these snapshots reveal that Turkey and Italy have a deep-rooted musical relationship. After the proclamation of the Republic the new régime reorganised musical activities and Italians were replaced by Germans.



[1]  Recently I have asked the chief cantor of the Church of Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, Mr. Leonidas Asteris, the protopsaltis of the Church, who is  an excellent singer, what his opinion of the musical isolation of western and eastern  churches of the Roman Empire was. He said  “We were not the party who gave up its music. For many centuries we have preserved our authentic music and we still perform it. It is the Western church that has not remained faithful to our common tradition.”  This should not be received  merely as the personal opinion of  a  church cantor who does not have sufficient knowledge of the history of music. Several recorded interviews with the musical authorites of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul  reveal that they believe that they have preserved the authenticity of their music. This has always  been the official view of the Church and it still is. 

[2]  Giuseppe Donizzeti’s biography which gives a full account of his   musical career has been written down by the Italian army officer A. Bacolla. This research was published in an Italian journal (Piemonte, 1 June 1911)  and translated into French by Giuseppe Donizzeti’s grand-son Giusseppe  Donizetti and puplished in the same year in Istanbul. The present writer has translated this biography into Turkish (see, Bülent Aksoy, AvrupalıGezginlerin Gözüyle OsmanlılardaMusiki,  Pan Yayıncılık, Istanbul, 1994, second edition in 2003).        

[3]  Considering the best marches in Turkish music repertoire (those composed especially by Clarinetist Mehmet Ali Bey, Rifat Bey, Zati Arca, Leyla Saz, Halit Recep Arman, Faik Canselen, Musa Süreyya Bey, Ahmet Muhtar Ataman, Muhlis Sabahattin, Halil Bedi‘ Yönetken and Cemal Resit Rey) I see that there is a style peculiar to traditional Turkish music. This same style can even be seen in some of the marches composed by the European musicians who had  established familiarity with the traditional melodies.  

[4]  See Melike Aktas, “Çagdas  Türk Müzigi Tarihine Bir Bakis”, Orkestra,  156, August   

1986, p. 25.  This information was given to the cited writer by Mr. Panayot Abaci, violonist and editor of the musical journal Orkestra, published in Istanbul. Mr. Abaci in a private conversation with me in 1993 added the following:  “Signor Guido Rispoli, Italy’s attaché in cultural affairs  who was in office in 1985-1986, privately told me that he had the printed programme of the performance including its details released in Izmir by the opera ensemble. He had given it to a library in Rome before he came to Istanbul. He would soon pay a short visit to his country in those days and  would provide a fotocopy of the programme for me. Unfortunately, he did not return and died in Italy.”      

[5]  Over the years, the two terms have gone beyond their musical borders and have

acquired other connotations. Pro-westerners began to use the term alla turca in the sense of being not westernised, not modern enough, backward, extremely conventional and so on, which was self-degrading, and alla franga came to mean xenophilic, one who superficially and foolishly imitates European way of life and is alienated from local culture, uprooted, snob, dandy and so on.  Certainly, both terms with their distorted denotations and connotations should remain only in dictionaries and should not be reproduced any longer.


AndMetin,  Türkiye’de Italyan Sahnesi, İtalyan Sahnesinde Türkiye,  Metis Yayınları, 1989,  Istanbul (this book has been translated into Italian: La Scena Italiana in Turchia – La  Turchia Sulla Scena Italiana, Ankara, Istituto Italiana di Cultura, 2004).  

Dallaway, James,  Constantinople Ancient and Modern, London,  1797.    

Pouqueville, F. C. H. L,   Voyage en Moree a  Constantinople ....   Paris, 1805 (first edition in  1798).    

Poullet, Sieur,  Nouvelles Relations du Levant par Sieur Poullet,  Paris, 1668.

Slade, Adolphus, Records of Travels in Turkey, Greece.... London,  1854.  

Üngör,  Etem, Türk Marşları, Türk Kültürünü Araştırma Enstitüsü  Yayınları, Ankara, 1966. 

Villoteau, Guillaume, André, Description de l’Egypte .... second  edition, v. 13-14,  Paris, 

    1823, 1826.   



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