Ahmed Adnan Saygun is a hallmark in Turkish music as a pioneer in polyphonic composition, an ethnomusicologist and an instructor. For forty years he produced music of all kinds in a steady flow. His works consists of five symphonies; four operas; the famous Yunus Emre Oratorio; concertos, various orchestral, chamber music and vocal music. Saygun is a Hallmark in Turkish Music The proclamation of the Republic in 1923 by Ataturk heralded a new era: under his leadership, Turkey underwent such reforms that transformed her from an oriental empire to a western nation. In the early years, a group of talented young musicians were sent to European cultural centers for training. As they returned, they became the founders of modern Turkish art music. Ahmed Adnan Saygun was one of them. Their torch illuminated the way for successive generations; such was their influence that even today's composers benefit from their pioneering efforts. The result is modern Turkish music, which is a fusion of classical art music, folk songs and the norms of western art music. The norms of modern Turkish art music were established by these pioneer composers such as Ahmed Adnan Saygun.
Ahmed Adnan Saygun is a hallmark in Turkish music as a pioneer in polyphonic composition, an ethnomusicologist and an instructor. For forty years he produced music of all kinds in a steady flow. His works consist of five symphonies; four operas; the famous Yunus Emre Oratorio; concertos: (two for piano, violin, viola and cello), various orchestral, chamber music and vocal music. He also published some books of his musicological researches. Saygun began his musical training in Izmir at the age of thirteen, learning harmony and counterpoint on his own. Winning a state competition in 1928, he went to Paris to study with Madame Eugene Borrel, Vincent d'Indy, Monsieur Borrel, Souberbielle and Amadee Gatoue. Back in Turkey, he held various teaching posts in the musical institutions of Ankara and Istanbul. In 1936, Bela Bartok the famous Hungarian composer -and an expert on folk music-, came to Turkey to investigate Anatolian folk songs. Saygun joined his tours as a travelling companion. The result of their collaboration was a large collection of folk songs, which they transcribed into conventional notation system.
As both composers were inspired by the nationalistic movements in their respective countries, both were interested in the origins of folk music. Saygun got a chance to travel widely throughout Turkey, learning a great deal about the local rhythmic and melodic structure of different districts. The first incident that spread his fame beyond Turkey was the performance in Paris of his Yunus Emre Oratorio in 1947 by the Lamoureaux Orchestra. In the same year he was elected to the International Folk Music Council as an executive member. Later on, he received wide international acclaim and was presented with medals and prizes from Germany, Hungary, France, Italy and England. Saygun's studies on pre-modal and modal music have illuminated polyphonic compositions in Turkey. His compositions are all in a modal structure but sometimes with a pentatonic character. His one-act operas of 1934 are the first models for the opera genre in Turkey. His later works for the stage reflect the tribulations of the mystic who is searching for truth. Selim Giray made a meticulous survey of the violin works of Saygun.
This work is a valuable musicological contribution to the history of modern Turkish music as well as to the modern voice of the 20th century.