Fazıl Say (born in 1970) is undoubtedly one of the most talented and respected Turkish artists today. He is a pianist and a composer who has gained success on the international scale both with his tremendous talent in playing the piano and in creating music.
Fazıl Say wrote his first piece – a piano sonata – as early as 1984, at the age of fourteen, when he was a student at the Conservatory of his home town Ankara. And he never stopped creating ever since…
Fazıl Say stands to some extent in the tradition of composers like Béla Bartók, George Enescu, and György Ligeti, who also drew on the rich musical folklore of their countries. He attracted international attention with the piano piece Black Earth (1997), in which he employs techniques familiar to us from John Cage and his works for prepared piano.
“In April 2012, Say came under investigation by the Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office over statements made on Twitter, declaring himself an atheist and retweeting a message poking fun at the Islamic conception of paradise. Say then announced that he was considering leaving Turkey to live in Japan because of the rise of conservative Islam and growing intolerance in his home country. On 1 June 2012, an Istanbul court indicted Say with the crime of “publicly insulting religious values that are adopted by a part of the nation”, a crime that carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison. According to Anatolia news agency, Say told the Istanbul court he did not seek to insult anybody, but was merely expressing his uneasiness. The court adjourned the case to February 18 after rejecting his lawyers’ request for an immediate acquittal. “When I read them (Say’s tweets), I was heart-broken, I felt disgraced,” Turan Gumus, one of the three plaintiffs, told the court.”