Composing is always a form of improvisation: with ideas, with musical particles, with imaginary shapes. And it is in this sense that the artistic itinerary and the world-view of the Turkish composer and pianist Fazıl Say should be understood. For it was from the free forms with which he became familiar in the course of his piano lessons with the Cortot pupil Mithat Fenmen that he developed an aesthetic outlook that constitutes the core of his self-conception as a composer. 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 else. They are more direct, more open, more exciting; in short, they go straight to the heart. And the same may be said of his compositions.
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. It was followed, in this early phase of his development, by several chamber works without an opus number, including Schwarze Hymnen for violin and piano and a guitar concerto. He subsequently designated as his opus 1 one of the works that he had played in the concert that won him the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York: the Four Dances of Nasreddin Hodja. This work already displays in essence the significant features of his personal style: a rhapsodic, fantasia-like basic structure; a variable rhythm, often dance-like, though formed through syncopation; a continuous, vital driving pulse; and a wealth of melodic ideas that may often be traced back to themes from the folk music of Turkey and its neighbours. In these respects, 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. After this, Say increasingly turned to the large orchestral forms. Taking his inspiration from the poetry (and the biographies) of the writers Nâzım Hikmet and Metin Altıok, he composed works for soloists, chorus and orchestra which, especially in the case of the oratorio Nâzim, clearly take up the tradition of composers such as Carl Orff.
In addition to the modern European instrumentarium, Say also makes frequent and deliberate use in these compositions of instruments from his native Turkey, including kudüm and darbuka drums and the ney reed flute. This gives the music a colouring that sets it apart from many comparable creations in this genre. In the year 2007 he aroused international interest with his Violin Concerto 1001 Nights in the Harem, which is based on the celebrated tales of the same name, but deals specifically with the fate of seven women from a harem. Since its world premiere by Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the piece has already received further performances in many international concert halls. Fazıl Say scored a further great success with his first symphony, the Istanbul Symphony, premiered in 2010 at the conclusion of his five-year residency at the Konzerthaus Dortmund. Jointly commissioned by the WDR and the Konzerthaus Dortmund in the framework of Ruhr.2010, the work constitutes a vibrant and poetic tribute to the metropolis on the Bosporus and its millions of inhabitants. The same year saw the composition, among other pieces, of his Divorce String Quartet (based on atonal principles), and commissioned works like the Piano Concerto Nirvana Burning for the Salzburg Festival and a Trumpet Concerto for the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, premiered by Gábor Boldoczki.
In response to a commission from the 2011 Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Say has also written a Clarinet Concerto for Sabine Meyer that refers to the life and work of the Persian poet Omar Khayyam. Fazıl Say’s works are issued worldwide by the renowned music publishers Schott of Mainz.
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 *
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 11990 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 *
1992 Pieces for Piano *1992 Liszt Sonata Orchestration *1993 CD / (SFB) (Scarlatti-Berg-Say)1993 Symphonia Concertante for Piano and Orchestra /opus 31993 AllaTurca Jazz (Mozart) /Opus 5a1993 Fantasiestücke for Piano /Opus 21994 Silk Road for Piano and Chamber Orchestra /Opus 41995 25 Songs / Opus 5d1995 Cadenza Mozart Kv 467 /Opus 5c1995 Paganini Jazz 3. Version /opus 5b
1996 CD / Troppenote Records ( Say )1996 Concerto for Guitar in d / Opus 5e1997 Black Earth for Piano /Opus 81997 Sonata for Violin and Piano / Opus 71997 Yeni bir Gülnihal Jazz Variations for Piano / Opus 5f1998 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 NOTLARI2000 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 112001 Cadenza Beethoven No 3 / Opus 102001 Nazım Oratorio / opus 9
2002 CD / İmaj (Nazım)2002 3 Ballades for Piano /opus 122003 Metin Altıok Ağıtı /Opus 132003 CD / Naive (Say/ Black Earth)2003 CD / İmaj (Metin Altıok ağıtı)2003 CD /Bilkent (Nazım)2004 Rhapsodia Uzun ince Yoldayım /Opus 142004 Cadenza Mozart KV 537 /opus 152004 CD / Naive ( Mozart Concertos )2005 Thinking Einstein for Piano and Orchestra /Opus 152005 Patara Ballet for Ney-flute ,Soprano, Percussions and Piano /Opus 162005 Ultimathule Film music /Opus 182005 CD / Naive ( Beethoven Sonatas )2005 DVD / İmaj ( Nazım Oratorio )2005 Bach- Say Passacaglia /Opus 192005 Summertime Phantasy Gerschwin /Opus 202006 Pianist the Wolfy film music /opus 212006 CD / Naive ( Haydn Sonatas )2006 DVD / Arthaus ( Alla Turca )2006 İnsan insan film music /Opus 222006 CD / Avex ( Live in Tokyo )2007 Fenerbahçe Project/ Opus 232007 Bach- Say Fantasia in g /Opus 242007 CD / Naive ( Kopatchinskaja –Say / Beethoven /Bartok/ )2007 1001 Nights in a Harem Violin Voncerto /opus 252008 CD / Naive (Kopatchinskaja- Say 1001 Nights in Harem)2008 DVD / Avex (Live in Tokyo)2009 2. Book / Yalnızlık kederi2009 Princess of Lykia for 2 Guitars / opus 262009 Film Music Watercolor /Opus 272009 İstanbul Symphony /Opus 282010 DVD / İmaj (Fenerbahçe Project )2010 String Quartett / Opus 292010 Nirvana Burning Piano Concerto / Opus 302010 Concerto for Trompet /Opus 322010 Variations for 2 Pianos and Percussion2010 Tiyatro Müziği ; 7000 yıllık uçan halı / Opus 332010 CLEOPATRA for solo Violin / Opus 342010 Woodwinds Quintett “Alevi dedeler rakı masasında” / Opus 352010 ReductionsReduction 1; Nazım Oratorio 2010 VersionReduction 2; Yeni bir Gülnihal Jazz VariationsKlavier Auszug Nirvana BurningKlavier Auszug Trompeten Konzert2011 Concerto for Clarinet “Khayyam” / Opus 362011 Fazıl Say: Pianist – Komponist – Weltbürger by Jürgen Otten (Book)2011 Fazil Say: Pictures (CD/DVD)2011 “4 Lieder” – “4 Songs” / Opus 372011 Symphony No.2 “Mesopotamia” for extra large orchestra / Opus 382011 Hezarfen Concerto for Ney and orchestra / Opus 392012 “SES” / Opus 402012 “Sonata” for Cello and Piano 2012 “4 Cities” (4 şehir) / Opus 412012 Sonata for Clarinet and Piano / Opus 422012 Symphony No.3 “Universe” / Opus 432012 6 Songs / Opus 442012 “Water” for Piano and Orchestra / Opus 452013 Space Jump for Trio (Piano, Violin, Cello) / Opus 462013 İlk Şarkılar / Opus 47 2013 Gezi Park 1 Concerto for two pianos and orchestra / Opus 482013 Nietzsche and Wagner for piano / Opus 492014 “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 512014 Gezi Park 2 / Opus 522014 Yunus Balığı Sırtındaki Çocuk / Opus 532014 Gezi Park 3 for Orchestra and Soprano / Opus 542014 “Suite” for Alto Saxophone and Piano / Opus 552014 “1914” / Opus 562014 “Masalların Masalı” / Opus 572014 “Göğe Bakma Durağı” / Opus 582014 “Bu Bizimki” / Opus 592014 “Şey şey şey ve şeylerden” / Opus 602015 “Ey Kör” / Opus 612015 Orpheus Commission / Opus 62