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Fazıl Say

Fazıl Say

Country of origin: Turkey
Birthday: January 14, 1970

Upcoming Performances

Symphony No. 5
Conductor: Nil Venditti
Orchestra: Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra
July 13, 2024 | Hiroshima (Japan) , Bunka Gakuen HBG Hall — National Premiere
1914
Conductor: N.N.
Orchestra: NC Governor's School West Orchestra
July 18, 2024 | Greensboro, NC (United States of America) , College — National Premiere

About Fazıl Say

He is not only a brilliant pianist, but will without doubt also become one of the great artists of the 21st century. (Le Figaro)

Fazıl Say was born in Ankara on 14 January 1970. He began playing the piano at the age of four and commenced piano studies when he was eleven. A workshop with David Levine and Aribert Reimann in Ankara provided the decisive impulse to begin composing. It was also the same outstanding musicians who succeeded in securing a place for the young up-and-coming talent at the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule in Düsseldorf. Fazıl Say subsequently continued his studies at the Berlin Conservatory of Music from1992 to 1995. He composed his work Black Hymns at the age of sixteen. His career was given further impetus through the award of the first prize at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York; since then Fazıl Say has given over 100 concerts each year. Large-scale compositions followed such as the 2nd Piano Concerto Silk Road which Say premiered in Boston in 1996 and performed more than a dozen times during the concert season 2003/2004. He was Artist in Residence at Radio France in both 2003 and 2005. He was invited to be Artist in Residence by the Music Festival in Bremen in 2005, by the Konzerthaus Dortmund in 2007, and by the Dresdner Philharmonie in the 2018/2019 season. Fazıl Say founded a world jazz quintet in 2000 with whom he has performed in numerous jazz festivals including Montreux and Istanbul.

Say’s musical career is characterised by his double role as composer and internationally renowned pianist. His musical concepts are influenced by his great interest in jazz and improvisation and he frequently incorporates these elements into his compositions, producing highly virtuoso adaptations of works for piano such as the jazz fantasy based on Mozart’s Alla Turca (1993), Paganini Jazz (1995) or the 4 Pieces for DJ and Piano (2003). His oratorio Nâzım, set to verses by the Turkish poet Nâzım Hikmet and commissioned by the Turkish Ministry for Cultural Affairs was given its first performance in Ankara in the presence of the Turkish President in 2001. Say composed his 3rd Piano Concerto in 2002 as a commission by Radio France and Kurt Masur and premiered it with the Orchestre National de Radio France under the baton of Eliahu Inbal. The first performance of his oratorio Requiem für Metin Altıok was given at the Istanbul Festival to an audience of 5000 in July 2003. He performed in the premiere of his 4th Piano Concerto Thinking Einstein in Lucerne in May 2005.

In the Mozart commemorative year 2006, the city of Vienna commissioned the ballet Patara as homage to the great Classical composer. One year previously, Say had completed his rhapsodic piano composition Black Earth which also embraces elements of Turkish folklore. A further composition for piano solo completed in 2006 was Inside Serail which was performed at the Salzburg Festival. Fazıl Say composed his first violin concerto with the allusive title 1001 Nights in the Harem in 2008. The premiere of this work took place in Lucerne performed by the dedicatee of the work, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, and the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra under the direction of John Axelrod. This violin concerto is Say’s first ambitious orchestral work without a solo part for the composer. The title is an allusion to the collection of oriental fairy tales, the Arabian Nights. The solo violin undertakes the role of the seductive, untiring storyteller Scheherazade. The piece became one of the most frequently performed concert works of the 21st century.

Say enjoyed similar success as a symphonic composer: The first symphony İstanbul Senfonisi was premiered in 2010 by the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln under Howard Griffith and has since been performed over 100 times. While its more immediate successor Mesopotamia Symphony (2011) also has an oriental subject, Say's third symphony Universe (2013) deals with astronomy. In contrast, the fourth symphony Umut Senfonisi ("Hope"), premiered in 2018 by Michael Sanderling and the Dresden Philharmonic, has a political-societal background: As in the cello concerto Never give up (2017), composed at about the same time, Say addresses the issue of Islamist terrorist attacks in Paris and other European cities. His previous response to contemporary events was his Gezi Park Trilogy (Gezi Park 1 for 2 pianos and orchestra, Gezi Park 2 Sonata for piano and Gezi Park 3 for mezzo-soprano and piano), composed between 2013 and 2014. Say’s Symphony No. 5, composed in 2022 for the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen under the baton of Nil Venditti, and the Violin Concerto No. 2 (premiered in 2022 by the Konzerthausorchester Berlin under Christoph Eschenbach with Friedemann Eichhorn as soloist) continue this tendency with reflections on the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Alongside numerous awards for his piano performances, Fazıl Say has also received other accolades including the silver London International Award in 2007 and, in the following year, the German Art Directors Club prize. He also received the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis for his arrangement of Stravinsky’s “Sacre du Printemps” for piano duet. In 2017, Say was awarded the Music Prize of the City of Duisburg as well as for two CD releases the ECHO Klassik and the Edison Klassiek .

Worklist

Chronology

1970
Born in Ankara on 14 January
from 1973
Piano lessons with Mithat Fenmen, a pupil of Alfred Cortot
1983-1987
Musical studies at the State Conservatory at the University of Ankara (piano with Kâmuran Gündemir, composition with Ilhan Baran)
1987-1991
Studies piano at the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule Düsseldorf with David Levine (following recommendation by Aribert Reimann and with a DAAD scholarship). Graduates as a concert pianist.
1991-1995
Relocates to Berlin; teacher for chamber music at the Hochschule der Künste Berlin; first performances of his symphonic works
1995
Prize winner at the international competition "Young Concert Artists" in New York; moves to New York
2001
First performance of the oratorio "Nâzım", a work commissioned by the Turkish Ministry of Cultural Affairs
2002
Moves to Istanbul
2003
Artist in residence at Radio France (again in 2005)
2005
Artist in Residence beim Musikfest Bremen
seit 2006
General contract with Schott Music
2006-2010
Exclusive artist at the Konzerthaus Dortmund
2007
London International Award in Silver for "Black Earth" in "Music in Blood" (Spot by Jung von Matt/Elbe for Konzerthaus Dortmund)
2007
President of the jury at the Montreux Jazz Festival (again in 2008)
2008
Appointed as Ambassador for the Year of Intercultural Dialogue by the EU
2008
Bremer Musikfest-Preis
2008
Several prizes for "Black Earth" in the spot "Musik im Blut": golden prize from the Art Directors Club Deutschland; Clio Award in silver; Cannes Lion in bronze
2008
World premiere of the Violin Concerto "1001 Nights in the Harem" (Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, John Axelrod)
2008
Fazıl Say Festival in Tokyo
2010
Residences at the Théâtre du Chatelet Paris, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and the Meraner Musikwochen
2010
World premiere of the "Istanbul Symphony" with the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln under the direction of Howard Griffiths
2010
World premiere of the concert piece "Nirvana Burning" for piano and orchestra during the Salzburg Festival (Fazıl Say, Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, Sascha Goetzel)
2010
Portrait series at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. First performance of the "Trumpet Concerto" (Gábor Boldoczki, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Lothar Zagrosek)
2010-2011
Artist in residence at the Konzerthaus Berlin
2011
Say‘s works form a focus at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. World premiere of the clarinet concerto "Khayyam" (Sabine Meyer, Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Işın Metin).
2011
Plattino-Preis from the association "Türkisch-Deutsche Studierenden und Akademiker Plattform" e.V., shares prize with Feridun Zaimoğlu
2012
World premieres of the Symphonies Nos. 2 "Mesopotamia Symphony" and 3 "Universe"
2012-2013
Artist in residence with the hr-Sinfonieorchester
2013
First performance of the Piano concerto "Water (Su)" at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Say, Gstaad Festival Orchestra, Kristjan Järvi) and the Concerto for two pianos "Gezi Park 1" (Ferhan and Ferzan Önder, NDR Radiophilharmonie, Arvo Volmer)
2013
ECHO Klassik special prize for "Istanbul Symphony"
2013
Rheingau Musikpreis
2013
Honorary prize at Zelt-Musik-Festival in Freiburg
2013-2014
Composer in residence at the Konzerthaus Wien
2014
Artist in residence at the Bodenseefestival
2016
International Beethoven Award for Human Rights, Peace, Freedom, Poverty Reduction, and Inclusion
2017
Music Award of the City of Duisburg
2017
ECHO Klassik for the complete recording of W.A. Mozart's piano sonatas
2017
Edison Klassiek for the album "4 Cities" with Nicolas Altstaedt
2018/2019
Composer in Residence at the Dresdner Philharmonie

Products

Performances

Set Descending Direction
  • Symphony No. 5
    Conductor: Nil Venditti
    Orchestra: Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra
    July 13, 2024 | Hiroshima (Japan) , Bunka Gakuen HBG Hall — National Premiere
  • 1914
    Conductor: N.N.
    Orchestra: NC Governor's School West Orchestra
    July 18, 2024 | Greensboro, NC (United States of America) , College — National Premiere
  • Trumpet Concerto
    Conductor: N.N.
    Orchestra: Gstaad Festival Orchestra
    August 9, 2024 | Saanen (Switzerland) , Kirche
  • Anka kuşu
    Conductor: Thomas Dausgaard
    Orchestra: Antwerp Symphony Orchestra
    September 26, 2024 | Bruxelles (Belgium) , Paleis voor Schone Kunsten — National Premiere
  • Anka kuşu
    Conductor: Thomas Dausgaard
    Orchestra: Antwerp Symphony Orchestra
    September 27, 2024 | Anvers (Belgium) , Elisabethzaal
  • Anka kuşu
    Conductor: Thomas Dausgaard
    Orchestra: Antwerp Symphony Orchestra
    September 28, 2024 | Amsterdam (Netherlands) , Concertgebouw
  • Set Descending Direction