With his extraordinary pianistic talents, Fazıl Say has been touching audiences and critics alike for more than twenty-five years, in a way that has become rare in the increasingly materialistic and elaborately organised classical music world. Concerts with this artist are something different. They are more direct, more open, more exciting; in short, they go straight to the heart. Which is exactly what the composer Aribert Reimann thought in 1986 when, during a visit to Ankara, he had the opportunity, more or less by chance, to appreciate the playing of the sixteen-year-old pianist. He immediately asked the American pianist David Levine, who was accompanying him on the trip, to come to the city’s conservatory, using the now much-quoted words: ‘You absolutely must hear him, this boy plays like a devil.’

Fazıl Say had his first piano lessons from Mithat Fenmen, who had himself studied with Alfred Cortot in Paris. Perhaps sensing just how talented his pupil was, Fenmen asked the boy to improvise every day on themes to do with his daily life before going on to complete his essential piano exercises and studies. This contact with free creative processes and forms is seen as the source of the immense improvisatory talent and the aesthetic outlook that make Fazıl Say the pianist and composer he is today. He has been commissioned to write music for, among others, the Salzburg Festival, the WDR, the Dortmund Konzerthaus and the Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern festivals. His work includes compositions for solo keyboard and chamber music, as well as solo concertos and large-scale orchestral works.

From 1987 onwards, Fazıl Say fine-tuned his skills as a classical pianist with David Levine, first at the Musikhochschule Robert Schumann in Düsseldorf and later in Berlin. This formed the aesthetic basis for his Mozart and Schubert interpretations, in particular. His outstanding technique very quickly enabled him to master the so-called warhorses of the repertoire with masterful ease. It is precisely this blend of refinement (in Bach, Haydn, and Mozart) and virtuoso brilliance in the works of Liszt, Mussorgsky and Beethoven that gained him victory at the Young Concert Artists international competition in New York in 1994. Since then he has played with all of the renowned American and European orchestras and numerous leading conductors, building up a multifaceted repertoire ranging from Bach, through the Viennese Classics (Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven) and the Romantics, right up to contemporary music, including his own piano compositions.

Guest appearances have taken Fazıl Say to countless countries on all five continents; the French newspaper Le Figaro called him ‘a genius’. He also performs chamber music regularly: for many years he was part of a fantastic duo with the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Other notable collaborators include Maxim Vengerov, the Borusan Quartet of Istanbul and the cellist Nicolas Altstaedt.

From 2005 to 2010, he was artist in residence at the Dortmund Konzerthaus; during the 2010/11 season he held the same position at the Berlin Konzerthaus. Say was also a focal point of the programme of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in the summer of 2011. There have been further residencies and Fazıl Say festivals in Paris, Tokyo, Meran, Hamburg, and Istanbul. During the 2012/13 season Fazıl Say was the artist in residence at the Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt am Main and at the Rheingau Musik Festival 2013, where he was honoured with the Rheingau Musik Preis. In April 2015 Fazıl Say gave a successful concert with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, New York, that was followed by a tour with concerts all over Europe. In 2014 he was the artist in residence at the Bodenseefestival, where he played 14 concerts. During their 2015/2016 season the Alte Oper Frankfurt invited him to be their artist in residence.

His recordings of works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Gershwin and Stravinsky have been highly praised by critics and won several prizes, including three ECHO Klassik Awards. In 2014, his recording of Beethoven’s piano concerto No. 3 and Beethoven’s sonatas op. 111 and op. 27/2 Moonlight was released, as well as the CD ‘Say plays Say’, featuring his compositions for piano.

Fazil Say Biography

Artist / Composer in Residence

Alte Oper Frankfurt, 2015/2016
Laeiszhalle Hamburg, 2014/2015
Bodenseefestival, 2014
Wiener Konzerthaus, 2013/2014
Hessischer Rundfunk Frankfurt, 2012/2013
Konzerthaus Berlin, 2010/ 2011
Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival 2011
Merano Festival, 2010
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, 2010
Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris 2010
Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 2010
Sumida Triphony Hall, Tokyo 2008
Konzerthaus Dortmund, 2005-2010
Musikfest Bremen 2005
Radio France 2003 & 2005

Chronological

Ankara

1984 Phrigian gor Piano *
1984 Sonata for Piano *
1985 Ballade for Cello and Piano *
1985 Preludes for Piano *
1985 Preludes for Flute Piano *
1986 Guitar Concerto *
1986 Suite for Piano *
1987 Schwarze Hymnen for Violin and Piano *

Düsseldorf

1987 4 Stücke for Piano *
1988 Paganini Jazz 1. Version for Piano *
1989 Seidenstrasse for Piano solo *
1990 Debussy Preludes Orchestration *
1990 Nasreddin Hoca’nın dansları for Piano / Opus 1
1990 Reflections for Piano Violin and Orchestra *
1990 Paganini Jazz 2. Version for Piano *
1991 3 Maerchen for Piano and Chamber Orchestra *
1991 Alt Anatolisches Tagebuch for Piano *

Berlin

1992 Pieces for Piano *
1992 Liszt Sonata Orchestration *
1993 CD / (SFB) (Scarlatti-Berg-Say)
1993 Symphonia Concertante for Piano and Orchestra /opus 3
1993 AllaTurca Jazz (Mozart) /Opus 5a
1993 Fantasiestücke for Piano /Opus 2
1994 Silk Road for Piano and Chamber Orchestra /Opus 4
1995 25 Songs / Opus 5d
1995 Cadenza Mozart Kv 467 /Opus 5c
1995 Paganini Jazz 3. Version /opus 5b

New York

1996 CD / Troppenote Records ( Say )
1996 Concerto for Guitar in d / Opus 5e
1997 Black Earth for Piano /Opus 8
1997 Sonata for Violin and Piano / Opus 7
1997 Yeni bir Gülnihal Jazz Variations for Piano / Opus 5f
1998 CD / Warner Music ( Mozart Sonatas)
1998 Sonata for Piano Silence of Southeast *
1999 Gershwin arrangements for sixtett *
1999 CD / Teldec ( Bach)
1999 1. Book / UÇAK NOTLARI
2000 CD / Teldec ( Gershwin )
2000 CD / Teldec ( Stravinski- Le sacre )
2000 Pieces for world jazz quartett *
2001 CD / Teldec ( Liszt- Tchaikovski )
2001 Silence of Anatolia Piano Concerto / opus 11
2001 Cadenza Beethoven No 3 / Opus 10
2001 Nazım Oratorio / opus 9

İstanbul

2002 CD / İmaj (Nazım)
2002 3 Ballades for Piano /opus 12
2003 Metin Altıok Ağıtı /Opus 13
2003 CD / Naive (Say/ Black Earth)
2003 CD / İmaj (Metin Altıok ağıtı)
2003 CD /Bilkent (Nazım)
2004 Rhapsodia Uzun ince Yoldayım /Opus 14
2004 Cadenza Mozart KV 537 /opus 15
2004 CD / Naive ( Mozart Concertos )
2005 Thinking Einstein for Piano and Orchestra /Opus 15
2005 Patara Ballet for Ney-flute ,Soprano, Percussions and Piano /Opus 16
2005 Ultimathule Film music /Opus 18
2005 CD / Naive ( Beethoven Sonatas )
2005 DVD / İmaj ( Nazım Oratorio )
2005 Bach- Say Passacaglia /Opus 19
2005 Summertime Phantasy Gerschwin /Opus 20
2006 Pianist the Wolfy film music /opus 21
2006 CD / Naive ( Haydn Sonatas )
2006 DVD / Arthaus ( Alla Turca )
2006 İnsan insan film music /Opus 22
2006 CD / Avex ( Live in Tokyo )
2007 Fenerbahçe Project/ Opus 23
2007 Bach- Say Fantasia in g /Opus 24
2007 CD / Naive ( Kopatchinskaja –Say / Beethoven /Bartok/ )
2007 1001 Nights in a Harem Violin Voncerto /opus 25
2008 CD / Naive (Kopatchinskaja- Say 1001 Nights in Harem)
2008 DVD / Avex (Live in Tokyo)2009 2. Book / Yalnızlık kederi
2009 Princess of Lykia for 2 Guitars / opus 26
2009 Film Music Watercolor /Opus 27
2009 İstanbul Symphony /Opus 28
2010 DVD / İmaj (Fenerbahçe Project )
2010 String Quartett / Opus 29
2010 Nirvana Burning Piano Concerto / Opus 30
2010 Concerto for Trompet /Opus 32
2010 Variations for 2 Pianos and Percussion
2010 Tiyatro Müziği ; 7000 yıllık uçan halı / Opus 33
2010 CLEOPATRA for solo Violin / Opus 34
2010 Woodwinds Quintett “Alevi dedeler rakı masasında” / Opus 35
2010 ReductionsReduction 1; Nazım Oratorio
2010 VersionReduction 2; Yeni bir Gülnihal Jazz VariationsKlavier Auszug Nirvana BurningKlavier Auszug Trompeten Konzert
2011 Concerto for Clarinet “Khayyam” / Opus 36
2011 Fazıl Say: Pianist – Komponist – Weltbürger by Jürgen Otten (Book)
2011 Fazil Say: Pictures (CD/DVD)2011 “4 Lieder” – “4 Songs” / Opus 37
2011 Symphony No.2 “Mesopotamia” for extra large orchestra / Opus 38
2011 Hezarfen Concerto for Ney and orchestra / Opus 39
2012 “SES” / Opus 40
2012 “Sonata” for Cello and Piano
2012 “4 Cities” (4 şehir) / Opus 41
2012 Sonata for Clarinet and Piano / Opus 42
2012 Symphony No.3 “Universe” / Opus 43
2012 6 Songs / Opus 44
2012 “Water” for Piano and Orchestra / Opus 45
2013 Space Jump for Trio (Piano, Violin, Cello) / Opus 46
2013 İlk Şarkılar / Opus 47
2013 Gezi Park 1 Concerto for two pianos and orchestra / Opus 48
2013 Nietzsche and Wagner for piano / Opus 49
2014 “The Bells” based on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe for choir, soprano, mezzo soprano, piano and percussion / Opus 50
2014 Sait Faik for narrators, piano, string quartet, kanun, kemençe, percussion and 2 mezzo sopranos / Opus 51
2014 Gezi Park 2 / Opus 52
2014 Yunus Balığı Sırtındaki Çocuk / Opus 53
2014 Gezi Park 3 for Orchestra and Soprano / Opus 54
2014 “Suite” for Alto Saxophone and Piano / Opus 55
2014 “1914” / Opus 56
2014 “Masalların Masalı” / Opus 57
2014 “Göğe Bakma Durağı” / Opus 58
2014 “Bu Bizimki” / Opus 59
2014 “Şey şey şey ve şeylerden” / Opus 60
2015 “Ey Kör” / Opus 61
2015 “Chamber Symphony” / Opus 62
2015 “Four Preludes” for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra / Opus 63
2015 “Symphonic Dances” / Opus 64
2015 “Grand Bazaar” / Opus 65
2015 “In Memoriam, 10.10.2015” / Opus 66 No.1 / “Sarı Gelin” Opus 66 No.2
2016 “Ballad” for Alto Saxophone / Opus 67
2016 “Night” for Piano 4 Hands / Opus 68
2016 “China Rhapsody” for Piano and Orchestra / Opus 69

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