Leading International Composer: Fazıl Say, Turkey

with University of Maryland School of Music Faculty and Students

March 15, 2018

Music Room

Fazıl Say is not only a virtuosic pianist but also a prolific composer. Say had his first piano lessons from Mithat Fenmen, who asked him to improvise on themes from his daily life in addition to his essential piano exercises. This creative process formed the immense improvisatory talent and the aesthetic outlook that make Say the pianist and composer he is today. Say fine-tuned his skills as a classical pianist with David Levine, first at the Musikhochschule Robert Schumann in Düsseldorf and later in Berlin. His blend of refinement (in Bach, Haydn, and Mozart) and virtuoso brilliance (in Liszt, Mussorgsky, and Beethoven) helped him win the Young Concert Artists international competition in New York in 1994. Since then he has played with renowned American and European orchestras and numerous leading conductors, building a repertoire ranging from the Viennese Classics and the Romantics to contemporary music. Fazıl Say’s interests include improvisation, jazz, and a passion for Mozart, all of which are reflected in his compositions. So, too, is his interest in Turkish folklore and literature. His output ranges from large-scale orchestral works (including four symphonies and several concertos), as well as a wide variety of music for chamber ensemble and large-scale vocal works. Say has been commissioned to compose works for, among others, the Salzburg Festival, West German Radio (WDR), the Vienna Konzerthaus, and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival.

Performers for this concert include University of Maryland School of Music faculty and students.

In partnership with the University of Maryland.

PROGRAM:

FAZIL SAY (b. 1970)

Works TBA

 

With his extraordinary pianistic talents, Fazıl Say has been touching audiences and critics alike for more than 25 years, in a way that has become rare in the increasingly materialistic and elaborately organized classical music world. Concerts with Say are something different. They are more direct, open, and exciting; in short, they go straight to the heart.

Say had his first piano lessons with Mithat Fenmen, who himself had 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 the free creative processes and forms is seen as the source of the immense improvisatory talent and aesthetic outlook that make Say the pianist and composer he is today. He has been commissioned to write music for the Salzburg Festspiele, the WDR, the Dortmund Konzerthaus, the Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern festivals among other. His body of work includes compositions for solo keyboard and chamber music, as well as solo concertos and large-scale orchestral works.

Since 1987 Say has fine-tuned his skills as a classical pianist with David Levine, first at the Musikhochschule Robert Schumann in Düsseldorf and later in Berlin. This particularly formed the aesthetic basis for his Mozart and Schubert interpretations. 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, the Viennese Classics, the Romantics, and to contemporary music, including his own piano compositions.

Guest appearances have taken Say to 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, and Nicolas Altstaedt.

From 2005-2010 and again during the 2010/2011 season he was Artist in Residence at the Dortmund Konzerthaus. Say was also a focal point of the program of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in the summer of 2011. There have been further residencies at festivals in Paris, Tokyo, Meran, Hamburg, and Istanbul. During the 2012/2013 season Say was the Artist in Residence at the Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt am Main and at the Rheingau Musik Festival 2013, where he was honored with the Rheingau Musik Preis. In April 2015 Say gave a successful concert with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall that was followed by a tour with concerts all over Europe. In 2014 he was the Artist in Residence at the Bodenseefestival. 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 album Say plays Say, featuring his compositions for piano.

Performers for this concert include University of Maryland School of Music faculty and students.