Modern Turkish Classical Music
Western influence had already begun to be felt in Ottoman music towards the
middle of the 19th century. These increased towards the end of the century, and
led to efforts to change Ottoman music from monodic to polyphonic.
With the declaration of the republic in 1923, Cemal Reşid (REY), who was then
studying music in Europe, returned to Turkey and began to teach at a music
school established in Istanbul. At the same time, a number of talented young
people were sent by the republic to various cities in Europe to study music.
After they returned to Turkey, the group that would later be called ‘Türk
Beşleri’ (the Turkish Five) and which prepared the groundwork for Modern
Polyphonic Turkish Music, emerged. The common aim of the group was to use the
traditional themes of traditional Turkish music together with the values of
Western classical music that they had studied to produce a new polyphonic
structure. In later stages, every composer who amed at a more contempoırary
sound interpreted the colours and mystery of popular melody in his own way, and
instead of merely treating well-known popular melodies they began to achieve
syntheses by means of abstraction.
The Turkish Five consisted of; Cemal Reşit REY, Ulvi Cemal ERKİN, Hasan Ferit
ALNAR, Ahmet Adnan SAYGUN and Necil Kazım AKSES. Later, others produced and are
still producing works in the same field, including; Nuri Sami KORAL, Kemal
İLERİCİ, Ekrem Zeki ÜN and Bülent TARCAN of the second generation, Sabahattin
KALENDER, Nevit KODALLI, Ferit TÜZÜN, İlhan USMANBAŞ, Bülent AREL and İlhan
MİMAROĞLU of the third, and Muammer SUN, Cenan AKIN, Cengiz TANÇ, Kemal SÜNDER,
İlhan BARAN, Yalçın TURA and Ali Doğan SİNANGİL of the fourth. An ıncreasing
number of other composers after that last generation continue to write works.
The current number has now reached around 60.