From Chopin to Itrî, The Transformation of Formal Music in Turkey



Year: 2021 Vol: 3 Number: 1


The third movement of Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35. The somber piece that we were used to hear at state funerals but was not intended to be a funeral march: Marche funèbre. Chopin’s funeral march was first played in Turkey at the funeral of poet Samih Rıfat on December 3, 1932. It was played at Mustafa Kemal’s funeral in 1938 and it has become a familiar tune often heard at state and military funerals for 80 years. Until the procession at the funeral of the Martyred Specialist Gendarmerie Corporal Muhammed Meriç on August 9, 2017… That great composition (Segah Takbir) of Buhurizade Mustafa Itrî, one of the most influential composers of the 18th century, in the maqam Segáh, was going to be the tune to be played by the military band after that day.
Ceremonies, which are one of the important moments and meeting places between the official ideology and the society, are one of the pivotal instruments of the legitimacy of state authority. According to the “ideal citizen” assumption of the prevailing political thought, the most obvious example of the transformation of these instruments of legitimacy can be seen in the recent debate on “playing of Segah Takbir at the funeral ceremonies of martyred soldiers”
In the light of the modernization experienced by both the Ottoman and Republican Turkey, the transformation of military music institutions from janissary bands to Mızıka-yı Hümayun to the Presidential Symphony Orchestra and the Band of the Turkish Armed Forces is important to be able to read today’s political conjuncture. The tone of official ideology is changing. The differentiation of the type and content of the works performed at recent formal ceremonies is not independent of the dynamics of the state’s dialogue with the nation. The aim of the study is to examine the role of formal music policies in Turkey in terms of identity formation and the relationship
between the state and its people from the perspective of the change in the “formal music” tradition by using Mihail Bakhtin’s concepts of dialogy and chronotope
to analyze the dynamics stated.

Chronotope, Nation-State, Invention of Tradition, Formal Music, Acceptable Citizen