Bîrûn Ottoman Music Workshop. Greek Composers in Classical Ottoman Music

Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
plus MAR, 1419 2016

Beste di Zaharya Hanende in Byzantine notation in the collection Mousikon Apanthisma, Costantinople, Anatole, 1872. (The Greek text says: Der Fasli Xouseini. Beste tou Xanende Zacharia. Maxam Houseini, echos pl., Usul Tzember)


From 14 to 19 March 2016, the Intercultural Institute of Comparative Music Studies of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, is holding the fifth edition of Bîrûn, a series of advanced workshops on Ottoman classical music, directed by Kudsi Erguner, and addressed to professional or semi-professional musicians.

Based on the modal system of the maqâm, Ottoman classical music was enriched by the contributions of Turkish, Arab, Persian, Greek, Jewish and Armenian composers who all flourished in the territories of the empire. Considering Ottoman classical music as a regional or national tradition would be misleading, since it represents a taste and an art shared beyond cultures of provenance in much the same way as European classical music. The aesthetics of Ottoman music is the result of influences that range from Byzantium to the Middle East, Central Asia and India.

This year the workshop will be on Greek composers in Ottoman classical music. Six scholarship winners specialised in various instruments (ney, ûd, tanbûr, kanûn, kemençe, percussions and voice) have been selected after an international call for applications. They will study music by composers such as Zaharya (d. 1740), Petros “Lampadarios” (c. 1730-1778), Vasilaki Efendi (1845-1907), Corci, Nikolaki and Yorgi, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and composed in the various genres and forms of Ottoman classical music.

The workshop will end with a public concert performed by the Bîrûn ensemble, conducted by Kudsi Erguner. This year the Bîrȗn workshop will again be preceded by a “Prelude to Bîrȗn”, a study day on Greek Music and Culture in the Ottoman World, coordinated by Giovanni De Zorzi, to be held on 11 March at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, in collaboration with the Department of Philosophy and the Cultural Heritage.