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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » S » Saygun, Ahmet Adnan



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Ahmet Adnan Saygun (1907 - 1991)

Adnan Saygun was born in Izmir in 1907. His father, Celal Bey (surnames were made obligatory by Atatürk only in 1934) had moved from Nevşehir to take a position as a teacher and it was in Izmir that Saygun had his early education, through the difficulties and dangers of war, of the Greek occupation and of the varied rivalries of Western European powers.

He was able to have piano lessons, and his father bought an instrument for Saygun and his sister, but discouraged his son’s ambitions as a musician, insisting that he have some other means of earning a living. Saygun broadened his own musical knowledge by translating articles on music from the French Grande Encyclopédie, taught music at a primary school and then at a boy’s lycée in Izmir, before, in 1928, winning a Ministry of Education competition that allowed him further study in Paris.

He studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Eugène Borrel, who had early connections with Turkey, and subsequently at the Schola Cantorum in the composition class of Vincent d’Indy, learning what he could of Western culture and associating with fellow-students, particularly a group of young Turkish painters who were also benefitting from the cultural policies of Atatürk.

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