"The Mevleviye as a Generative Force in the Art Music of Muslim Anatolia and the Ottoman Empire"

17 Nov 2022


Announced by the University of Pittsburgh:

In his lecture, Walter Feldman will clarify how the Mevleviye became a stable and productive force within the Science of Music (''Ilm al-musiqa') of pre-Ottoman Anatolia and then in Ottoman Istanbul. It is all too facile to group them into a 'Sufi music' category alone. They were able to maintain a focus on the two major sides of 'ilm al-musiqa; one which was specific to their own ritual music, and the other which was part of a general 'art music' repertoire and performance. They were evidently able to shift from a predominantly ‘Persianate’ art music into the emerging Ottoman Turkish music in the course of the 17th century. While mentioning some 15th century figures, and of course briefly citing the well-known masters of the 19th century, he will emphasize how the Mevlevis of the 17th to the early 18th century were absolutely crucial to the evolution of secular Ottoman music as well.

Walter Feldman is a leading researcher in both Ottoman Turkish and Jewish music. During the 1970s he spearheaded the revival of klezmer music. Today he is a performer on the traditional klezmer dulcimer, the cimbal, and on the Ottoman lute, the tanbur.

From Rumi to the Whirling Dervishes: Music, Poetry and Mysticism in the Ottoman Empire (Edinburgh U Press, 2022)In 1985 Feldman received an NEH grant to translate the Ottoman music theory of the Moldavian Prince Demetrius Cantemir (ca. 1700), which led to his book, Music of the Ottoman Court: Makam, Composition, and the Early Ottoman Instrumental Repertoire (Berlin, 1996), taught as a basic text worldwide. It is now being revised for reissue by Brill Press. In 2004 he co-directed the successful application of the Mevlevi Dervishes of Turkey as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity for UNESCO. This led to his latest publication, From Rumi to the Whirling Dervishes: Music, Poetry and Mysticism in the Ottoman Empire (Edinburgh U Press, 2022), sponsored by the Aga Khan Music Programme.

His current research interests include the relation of rhythmic cycle (usul) and melody in Ottoman music, and he was the keynote speaker in the conference ”Rhythmic Cycles and Structures in the Art Music of the Middle East,” held at the University of Münster (2014). He is a board member of the Corpus Musciae Ottomanicae (CMO) Project of the Wilhelm Westphalian University in Münster. Between 2010 and 2015 he had taught as a Visiting Professor of Music at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Event Date: 
Thursday, November 17, 2022 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Sponsored By: 
Islamic Studies Center at George Mason University