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20 12 2007 - Turkish pianist: Art is belittled in Turkey
Hurriyet - December 19,2006
Turkish pianist: Art is belittled in Turkey

Turkish pianist Fazýl Say issued a written statement yesterday after an interview he gave to a German magazine sparked controversy.

In his written statement, Say said that he opposed a return in Turkey to "the darkness of the Middle Ages."

"I am opposed to Turkey returning to the darkness of the Middle Ages, for I am of a culture that supports contemporary civilisation. Although as a composer and pianist I represent European musical culture, I have never disaffiliated myself with my native Anatolian culture. Everybody knows this. All my work incorporates folk culture. This is why I think the European Union chose me as ‘ambassador’ in the year of ‘intercultural dialogue’.

I have not forgotten

Despite all these things, the current government has not behaved amicably towards me and music in general. The first minister of culture of the government managed to censor my oratorio entitled ‘Elegy to Metin Altýok’. I will never forget this.

The best example of the belittling of the art of music can be seen in the Ministry of National Education’s initiative last year to remove music and art lessons in schools.

I will not surrender

The aphorism ‘an artist is he who feels the first light in his art’ can also be interpreted as ‘an artist is he who first feels the dangers of darkness’. The darkness of the Middle Ages worries me as much as many of our enlightened people. If one day dark forces do not give our republic and national values a chance to survive, we will not surrender to these."

During the talk organised by the German Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Paris where Say spoke alongside the violinist Renaud Capuçon, Fazýl Say had said, “Our dreams for Turkey have somewhat died. All ministers’ wives wear headscarves. The Islamists have won anyway; we represent 30% of the population while they represent 70%. I am considering moving somewhere else."

A. Melikian

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