From Moldavia to Istanbul: The Musical World of Dimitrie Cantemir

Travel to the Ottoman Empire through the music of composer, scholar, and diplomat Dimitrie Cantemir (16731723), a flamboyant and brilliant figure who served four Ottoman sultans and Russia’s Tsar Peter the Great. Cantemir’s treatise on Turkish classical music included more than three hundred fifty original compositions. After he led an ill-fated rebellion against the Ottomans in his native Moldavia, he escaped to Moscow where he organized lavish musical events with his daughter, a harpsichordist trained in the Italian style. Turkish instrumentalists Neva zgen and Murat Aydemir join the baroque music ensemble Lux Musica to recreate the sounds of Cantemir’s Moldavian homeland and his careers in Istanbul and Moscow. Recorded live in concert at the Meyer Auditorium, Freer Gallery of Art, on June 11, 2009.


The World of Cantemir: Part I
Moldavian Dance: Syrba (Baroque violin, viol) 0:001:40
Moldavian Dance: Syrba (Baroque flute, early guitar) 1:40–2:55
Collective Improvisation: Beraber taksim (viol, kemençe, Baroque flute) 2:55–4:43
Moldavian Dance: Zhok de Nante (harpsichord, Baroque violin, viol) 4:44–5:22
Moldavian Dance: Ostropesul (Baroque piccolo, Baroque violin, viol, harpsichord, tambourine) 5:23–6:59
Moldavian Dance: Syrba with taksim (Baroque flute, Baroque violin, viol, harpsichord, with kemençe improvisation) 7:00–9:10
Improvisation: Bestenigar taksim (kemençe, harpsichord) 9:26–11:28
Dimitrie Cantemir: Peşrev in makam Bestenigar / usul berefsan (16/8) (kemençe, harpsichord, baroque violin, kudüm) 11:29–16:27
Improvisation: Tanbur taksim (tanbur) 16:45–18:35
Cantemir: Saz Semaisi in makam Neva / usul aksak semai (10/8) (tanbur, harpsichord) 18:36–23:25
Cantemir: Saz Semaisi in makam Rast / usul aksak semai "Teresüd" (10/8) (harpsichord solo with tambourine) 23:40–25:38
Modavian Dances: Syrbas (baroque piccolo, viol, Baroque violin, harpsichord, tambourine) 25:39–26:56

New Music in Honor of Cantemir
Improvisation: Kemençe taksim (kemençe solo) 27:11–29:09
Lou Harrison (1917–2003): In Honor of Prince Kantemir (from Rhymes with Silver, 1996) (kemençe solo with baroque viola, viol, kudüm, tambourine) 29:09–32:45
Collective Improvisation: Beraber taksim (harpsichord, viol, baroque flute, baroque violin, kemençe, tanbur) 33:03–36:07
Yalçin Tura (b. 1934): Andante (from Concertino per Kemance, Violino Picolo 5 Instruments, "In Honor of Kantemiroğlu," 2000) (kemençe, tanbur, harpsichord, early guitar, baroque flute, baroque violin, viol) 36:07–41:25

Turkish Images, European Reflections
Thomas Shaw: A Turkish Air, from Travels and Observations, 1738 (violin, harpsichord) 41:36–42:32
Marin Marais: Marche a la Turque, from Pièces de viole, 1725 (viol, harpsichord, kudüm) 42:32–44:23
Jean-Baptiste Lully: Marche pour la cérémonie des Turcs, from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, 1670) (baroque flute, baroque violin, viol, harpsichord, kudüm, tambourine) 44:23–45:58
Ben Jonson: The Turks' dance, from Augurs, 1622 (baroque violin, viol, harpsichord, kudüm, tambourine) 45:58–47:22
John Playford: New metar, from The Dancing Master, 1665 (baroque piccolo, baroque violin, viol, harpsichord) 47:22–48:03

The World of Cantemir: Part II
Collective Improvisation: Rast taksim (kemençe, tanbur, baroque violin, viol, bendir) 48:14–50:02
Cantemir: Peşrev in makam Rast / usul berefsan (16/8) (kemençe, tanbur, bendir, baroque violin, lute, viol) 50:02–53:06
Moldavian Dance: Zhok de Nante (baroque flute, baroque violin, viol, lute, bendir, tambourine) 53:06–54:13
Improvisation: Pençgâh taksim (kemençe) 54:24–58:30
Cantemir: Saz semaisi in makam Pençgâh / usulaksak semai (10/8), yürük semai (6/8); with Moldaviani Dance: Bulgariaska yürük semai (6/8), aksak semai (10/8) (kemençe, tanbur, bendir, baroque violin, lute, viol) 58:30–1:02:51
Collective Improvisation: Hüseyni taksim (kemençe, baroque flute) 1:03:06–1:06:26
Cantemir: Peşrev in makam Hüseyni ‘subh-i seher' / usul sakil (48/8) (kemençe, bendir, baroque flute, viol, kudüm) 1:06:26–1:09:43
Collective Improvisation: Buselik taksim (kemençe, tanbur, baroque violin, viol, harpsichord) 1:09:57–1:12:30
Cantemir: Peşrev in makam Buselik / usul devr-i-revan (14/16)
(kemençe, tanbur, harpsichord, Baroque flute, Baroque violin, viol, tambourine) 1:12:30–1:16:02

Encore 1:16:26–1:19:27

Musical terms: makam, melodic mode; usul, rhythmic mode; taksim, improvisation; peşrev, musical form
Turkish musical instruments: kemençe, fiddle; tanbur, lute; kudüm, drums
Moldavian music source: E. P. Floria, Muzyka narodnykh tantsev Moldavii (1983)


Neva Özgen, kemençe
Murat Aydemir, tanbur
Lux Musica Ensemble
Linda Burman-Hall, director, harpsichord, percussion
Lars Johannesson, baroque flute, piccolo
David Wilson, baroque violin
Amy Brodo, baroque viola da gamba
Mesut Özgen, lute, early guitar, percussion


This concert honors the amazingly rich life of Prince Dimitrie Cantemir (Turkish: Kantemiroğlu, 1673–1723). Born in Moldavia (now parts of Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine) but educated in Istanbul, he became—during his many years at the heart of Ottoman culture—a master musician, composer, linguist, and lexicographer. After twenty-two years in Istanbul, he finally was sent home to rule Moldavia as the representative of the Ottoman Empire. Cantemir, however, betrayed the sultan by attempting to liberate his people with the aid of Tsar Peter the Great. Defeated, he fled with his court into exile in Russia where, among other achievements, he helped translate the Greek Orthodox liturgy into Russian. He was given the title Prince of the Russian Empire by Peter the Great.

As Cantemir's birthplace was under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, he had been sent to Istanbul as a guest of the court to ensure Moldavia's loyalty. There, he studied the tanbur, a long-necked Turkish lute, earning a reputation for his knowledge of the historical Ottoman repertoire and theory. Cantemir's treatise on Turkish music, Kantemir Edvari, was a major contribution to musicology, preserving three hundred fifty-two works in a unique notation style he developed to document his music study. Many of these works were composed in the Ottoman pesrev and saz semai forms.

A CD recording devoted to Cantemir includes most of the musicians performing at this concert. Released in 2004, Cantemir: Music in Istanbul and Ottoman Europe around 1700 features co-directors İhsan Özgen and Linda Burman-Hall and the Santa Cruz-based quintet Lux Musica. In our concert and lecture-demonstrations at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Turkish musicians Neva Özgen and Murat Aydemir perform kemençe and tanbur, respectively, in the place of İhsan Özgen.

This concert explores three repertoires. The first section, "The World of Cantemir: Istanbul and Ottoman Europe around 1700," presents music composed by Cantemir along with traditional Moldavian dances that he might have heard back home during his wedding. The next section, "New Music in Honor of Cantemir," begins with a kemençe taksim (a genre of solo improvisation for the bowed kemençe), a form that had just gained popularity when Cantemir was in Istanbul. It is followed by a beraber taksim, a new and experimental form of improvisation pioneered in recent years by İhsan Özgen. This "new music" section also debuts two compositions inspired by Cantemir's musical legacy, one by the late Lou Harrison and arranged by Linda Burman-Hall, the other composed by Yalçin Tura, a devoted scholar of Cantemir who recently published a full transcription of the prince's Book of the Science of Music. The next section, "Turkish Images, European Reflections," presents English and French music in the alla Turca style, which was popular in the eighteenth century and included Turkish-inspired percussion, rhythms, and "exotic" melodies. The concert concludes with more music by Cantemir, along with improvisations in the Turkish classical style (taksim) and two additional Moldavian dances.

— Linda Burman-Hall


Linda Burman-Hall (early keyboards, bendir, co-director) is a musicologist and ethnomusicologist best known as a performer of historic keyboard works. Burman-Hall performs with contemporary-music artists Steve Reich and Meredith Monk, has premiered and edited new works by contemporary Indonesian composers, and performs the works of medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen. She is on the faculty in the music department of the University of California at Santa Cruz, a founder and artistic director of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, and musical director of Lux Musica.

Neva Özgen (kemençe) is the daughter of the great Turkish classical musician İhsan Özgen. She studied flute and clarinet at the Istanbul Technical University Conservatory before moving to Turkish classical music and the kemençe, which she studied under Alaeddin Yavasca. She focused then on the works and taksims of Tanburi Cemil Bey, and has more recently been influenced by the music of Münir Nurettin Selçuk and Bekir Sıdkı Sezgin. She has accompanied her father in performances in Europe, the United States, and Turkey. She has made two recordings with the Anatolia Ensemble and is featured on a recording titled Women Composers and Performers of Turkish Classical Music. Outside of Turkish music, she has appeared with Orbestra in England, jazz artist Butch Morris in New York, and the Mercan Dede Ensemble. Legacy, a CD released in 2001 by Golden Horn Records, was her debut solo recording.

Murat Aydemir (tanbur) studied at Istanbul Technical University Turkish Music Conservatory. He is a past member of the Cultural Ministry's Istanbul Government Classical Turkish Music Ensemble, led by Necdet Yasar. He has appeared with such masters of Turkish music as Bekir Sıdkı Sezgin, Alaeddin Yavaşça, İnci Çayrılı, Erol Deran, İhsan Özgen, Cinuçen Tanrıkorur, and Necdet Yaşar. Aydemir's first two CDs for Golden Horn Records were released in the United States and Turkey. He toured Germany in 2003 and the United States in 2005. In 2002, Aydemir recorded an album, "Neva," with Salih Bilgin (ney), which was released in Turkey by Kaf Müzik and in the United States by Golden Horn Records. The duo performed at the Freer Gallery in 2006. Aydemir is also a member of the Cantemir Ensemble, which made two CDs to accompany Yalçın Tura's translation of Cantemir's treatise, Kantemiroğlu Edvarı, published by Yapı Kredi Culture and Art Publications in Turkey.

David Wilson (violin) has performed with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, and Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra and as concertmaster with Jubilate Baroque Orchestra, California Bach Society, Apollo Baroque Orchestra, Musica Angelica, Dayton Bach Society, and Ensemble Musical Offering. He has performed in Germany with Metamorphosis (Cologne), the Carissimi Consort (Munich), Münchner Barockorchester, Barockorchester Düsseldorf, and Barockorchester Rhein-Ruhr.

Mesut Özgen (lute, early guitar, percussion) is on the guitar faculty at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Originally a medical doctor, he taught himself guitar and was invited to study music at Yale following two performances in the International Paco Peña Guitar Festival in Cordoba, Spain. He completed his doctoral degree at Arizona State University. He has appeared at the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, and premiered new music for guitar at the Yale Guitar Festival and the Santa Cruz Contemporary Music Festival. Composers who have written music for Özgen include Pablo Ortiz, Benjamin Verdery, Deepak Ram, Christopher Pratorius, Robert Strizich, Charles Nichols, Paul Nauert, and Yalçin Tura. Özgen has been the director of a multimedia concert project, New Dimensions in Classical Guitar, since 2002, collaborating with a multidisciplinary artistic team from the film and digital media, theatre, and music departments at the Arts Division of UC Santa Cruz.

Amy Brodo (viol) is former assistant principal cellist of the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Italy, and cellist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. As a baroque cellist, she performed with Andrew Parrott's Taverner Players, Philip Herreveghe's Orchestre de Champs Elysées, and the Hanover Band. In the San Francisco Bay Area, she has performed with the Sex Chordæ Consort of Viols, the Magnificat Baroque Orchestra, the American Bach Soloists, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival. In addition to her period instrument performances on both baroque cello and viola da gamba, she is an active performer of contemporary music for the cello.

Lars Johannesson (flute and piccolo) graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a degree in orchestral flute. He pursued postgraduate studies in baroque flute with Wilbert Hazelzet at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Holland. He teaches and performs in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas, including performances with the Magnificat Baroque Orchestra, Dramma per Musica, Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, and the North Bay Chamber Orchestra. In addition to classical music, Lars also performs traditional music. An active studio musician, he has recorded for numerous releases on the Gourd Music and A&M Records labels, among others.

Lux Musica is the quintet of Lars Johannesson, David Wilson, Amy Brodo, Mesut Özgen, and Linda Burman-Hall. Dedicated to presenting interesting and beautiful works from the Enlightenment, Lux Musica draws on a versatile combination of historical flutes, violin or viola, violoncello or viola da gamba, and historic keyboards with percussion. A mainstay of the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, their work can also be heard on several CDs, including their debut recording Haydn and the Gypsies: Music in the Style Hongrois and their recent Celtic Caravans: The Road to Romanticism.


Podcast recording, photos, and notes compiled by Michael Wilpers, performing arts programmer, with photography by Neil Greentree and John Tsantes, and audio engineering by Andy Finch and SuMo Productions.

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