Director Kudsi Erguner, assistant Giovanni De Zorzi

Armenian composers in the Ottoman tradition
15-20 April 2013 Giorgio Cini Foundation, Venice

Call for scholarship applications: deadline 15 December 2012

This call for scholarship applications is addressed to professional and semi-professional musicians specialised in Ottoman classical music. The aim of the project, for which six scholarships are available, is to form a vocal or instrumental ensemble, whose exact composition will depend on the candidates selected. The ensemble will then focus on some specific aspects of Ottoman classical music, such as the repertoires, composers and manuscripts.
Ottoman classical music is based on the maqâm modal system and has been enhanced by contributions from Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Greek, Jewish and Armenian composers who lived and worked in the territory of the Ottoman Empire. From this point of view, the theme of Bîrûn in 2013 will involve studying works by Armenian composers of Ottoman classical music.
After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Mehmet II Fatih (“the Conqueror”) ordered the creation of an Armenian patriarchate as early as 1461. Subsequently, Armenian communities from the Balkans, Anatolia and Persia sought refuge in Constantinople, where religious, classical and popular Armenian music developed on the basis of the maqâm system. This means that today Armenian Ottoman music is very different from the original Armenian music in Anatolia and the Caucasus. After seizing Yerevan in 1635, Sultan Murad IV took its court musicians back to Istanbul. But since the Armenian city had been in Safavid hands, the works left by these musicians were said to be by acem (Persians). It is very likely that many of the works in the treatise by Prince Cantemir (1673-1723) – Kitâb ilmi’l Musiki alâ vechi’l Hurufat – were composed by Armenians from the Transcaucasus. Thanks to the Armenian monk Baba Hampartzum Limonciyan (1768–1839), and his system of musical notation, much of the Ottoman repertoire from the eighteenth to the twentieth century was transcribed and conserved. Armenian musicians and composers thus all contributed to the creation of the Ottoman musical legacy.
During the seminar pieces of music will be studied by composers such as Çelebi Ermeni Murad (XVI), Baba Hamparsum Limonciyan (1768-1839), Oskiyan Vaskiyan (1780-1870), Nikoğos Aga Melkoyan (1830-1890), Sebuh Aga Simonyan (1824-1894), Tatyos Ekserciyan (1858-1913), Bîmen Sen Der Gazaryan (1873-1943), Levon Hanciyan (1857-1947) and Hirant Kenklioglu (Emre), (1901-1978).
According to the kinds of applications received, the ensemble will be made up of instrumentalists on non-fretted string instruments (such as violin, viola and cello) and singers, able to perform the maqâm micro-intervals. Preference will be given to traditional instruments such as the ney (flute), ‘ûd (short-necked lute), tanbûr (long-necked lute), kanûn (zither), kemençe o yaili tanbûr (fiddle) and percussion – def or bendir (frame drum) zarb (goblet drum) and kudûm (kettledrum).

The seminar will end with a concert to be given by the scholarship recipients conducted by Kudsi Erguner.


The Giorgio Cini Foundation is offering six scholarships to attend the seminar.
The scholarship cover will cover: registration fees, accommodation (in the Vittore Branca Center Residence), lunches (no dinners) and travelling expenses (up to 400 euros in economy class).

To participate in the selection, candidates must send the following material to the seminar secretary’s office (email: musica.comparata@cini.it) before 15 December 2012:
• a detailed CV clearly indicating the instrument or voice being applied for (e.g. voice; ney; etc.);
• a recording of music in mp3 – NB: Each candidate may only send a maximum of two sample tracks. If the overall size of the files is more than 3 MB, they must be sent via the Dropbox platform and not by email. Each file must bear the candidate’s first name and surname.

The recipients of the six scholarships and the auditors* will be selected by a committee made up of Kudsi Erguner, Giovanni De Zorzi and Giovanni Giuriati, director of the Intercultural Institute of Comparative Music Studies (IISMC) at the Giorgio Cini Foundation. The results of the selection will be communicated to all candidates by 1 February 2013.

*Candidates who are selected but not awarded a scholarship may attend the seminar as auditors and will be offered accommodation at their own expense in the Branca Centre Residence (depending on the availability of rooms as established by the organisational secretary’s office).