Four Cities


Fazıl Say’s “Four Cities” Sonata can be considered as a journey through four cities of Anatolia. This work has taken its inspiration from Fazıl Say’s memories and events of his life. Bodrum is well known as a city greatly frequented by tourists which sets it apart from the other three locations. These four very different cities with their individual cultures have been selected from the nearly 2000-km wide expanse of Anatolia.

Sivas is a conservative city located in Eastern Anatolia which is known for its large Alevi population. As¸ık Veysel is an Alevi Ozan (poet) and Fazıl Say has been inspired by his song “Sazım” (my saz/my instrument) in the first part of this work. The movement is concluded on a melancholy tone in imitation of this ethnic instrument.

A traditional wedding provided Fazıl Say with his inspiration for this second movement which embraces Eastern Black Sea culture. Horon is a very fast folk dance in 7/16 time which is played on the kemence, a typical instrument of the Eastern Black Sea region. The music also touches on Caucasian, Georgian and Laz dances, anonymous songs, “Laz women” and “Cilveloy nanayda” (a Turkish song).

Ankara was declared the capital city of Turkey by Atatürk in 1923. This city with its population of four million was where the composer was born and also spent his childhood. “Ankara’nın Tas¸ına Bak”, a rebellious song dating back to the First World War, can be discerned in the mournful middle section. The movement with its atmosphere of tragedy evokes the republican spirit and the ambience of former times.

Bodrum is universally known as the Saint-Tropez of Turkey. A famous street in the city is fringed with countless bars and pubs from which a cacophony of different music can be heard, ranging from jazz, pop and rock to folk songs. Fazıl Say blends the sounds from these pubs in this movement which includes a walking theme in a swinging jazz tempo. The movement makes a reference to the song “Yıldızların Altında” which was performed by the famous singer Zeki Muren who was also born in Bodrum. As¸ık Veysel’s song “Uzun Ince Bir Yoldayım” which is wellknown in numerous arrangements is also featured in this movement. It is brought to an abrupt and absurd conclusion in its depiction of a pub brawl as frequently experienced in this city.


I Sivas
II Hopa
III Ankara
IV Bodrum



  • Tags: Duo
  • Opus No: 41
  • Duration: 23 minutes
  • Year of Composition: 2012
  • Commissioned by: BBC
  • Word Premiere Date: June 26, 2012
  • World Premiere Location: London (UK) St Vedast alias Foster City of London Festival 2012 - Nicolas Altstaedt, violoncello; José Gallardo, piano
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