New Classical Tracks®

Pianist Beyza Yazgan tells a story about her homeland

Beyza Yazgan celebrates the 'Turkish Five.'Courtesy of artist

New Classical Tracks - Beyza Yazgan (Extended)


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September 22, 2021
New Classical Tracks - Beyza Yazgan

Beyza Yazgan — To Anatolia (Bridge)

“I read a lot of short stories, and I wanted this album to be like a collection of them,” said pianist Beyza Yazgan about her new CD, To Anatolia. “When short films and poems don't give all the information, that leaves more space for imagination.

“In this album, I wanted to give a voice to a group of composers called the Turkish Five. Their music is filled with folk elements from my country. When I hear the music, I feel like I’m going back to my childhood. This album is my love letter to where I was born.”

Can you tell us about the history of classical music in the Republic of Turkey?

“The founder of Turkey was Atatürk, which is translated to the father of the Turks. He created a new country from the cold ashes of the Ottoman Empire. He changed so many things and really believed in art. So, he found some talented musicians and helped them study in Europe.

“The five composers were Ahmet Adnan Saygun, Cemal Reşit Rey, Necil Kazim Akses, Hasan Ferit Alnar and Ulvi Cemal Erkin. They were the first to study music abroad and when they came back, they became directors of music institutions, orchestras and radio stations. They also took on many students.

“Saygun is the most famous and composed the first opera from Turkey. He wrote books on Turkish music, and he really believed in folk music. He thought folk music and classical music shouldn't be separated.”

Is Saygun referred to as the ‘Grand Old Man of Turkish music’ and is he as important to Turkey as Sibelius is to Finland?

“Yes, that is quite true. When Béla Bartók came to Turkey he was in the hunt for folk music and Saygun joined him. They met and collected folk songs together from the villages, which is wonderful.”

Tell me about the first track, ‘From Anatolia, Op. 25: I. Meşeli’ by Saygun.

“I thought of this piece as a stage curtain, so I put it in the beginning of the album. The piece is a dance that’s played with spoons in your hands. It’s also how the name of the album took shape. I just thought ‘from Anatolia’ and ‘to Anatolia’ shows my connection with my country.” 

To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Beyza Yazgan — To Anatolia (Amazon)

Beyza Yazgan — To Anatolia (Bridge records store)

Beyza Yazgan (Official site)