The Wonderful World of Musical Instrument Museums in Turkey

There are a variety of impressive musical instrument museums in Turkey with the latest opening in Bursa. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated collectors and scholars, including an expatriate, we have the opportunity to deepen the richness of Turkish music and the instruments played.

Anyone who knows Turkey knows that music plays an important role in the culture of the country. What stands out most about Turkish musical heritage is the wide variety of genres and styles that are distinctively Turkish. From maqams, the ozan tradition and a wide variety of ethnic styles to arabesque, Turkish classical music, folk music and Anatolian rock to name a few, with so many genres it is not surprising that Turkey is also full of musical instruments. , many of which were created here in Turkey.

Opening of a new museum of musical instruments in Bursa

Luckily, a fantastic new musical instrument museum has opened in the Nilüfer district of Bursa and features nearly 300 musical instruments from Turkey and around the world. Dr. Hüseyin Parkan Sanlıkol Müzik Enstrümanları Müzesi (Dr. Hüseyin Parkan Sanlıkol Musical Instrument Museum) is the result of the combined efforts of the family of the late Dr. Hüseyin Parkan Sanlıkol and the Municipality of Nilüfer. An esteemed and beloved member of the Bursa community, Sanlıkol was both a doctor and an avid music lover. He was also a chorister and his wife was a pianist. Together they traveled the world and built up an extensive collection of musical instruments, which today constitutes the majority of the museum’s collection.

In 2015, Dr. Sanlıkol sadly and unexpectedly passed away. The following year, his family donated their collection of musical instruments to the Municipality of Bursa, which had more than 200 instruments from all over the world. When the museum was founded, other music lovers also donated instruments, bringing the total number of instruments on display to 284.

His son, Mehmet Ali Sanlıkol, serves as a conceptual framework and project manager for the museum and has transmitted his legacy in two ways: by facilitating not only the creation of this museum centered on his father’s collection, the culmination of travels a life all over the world, but also by being a renowned composer and musician himself. Nominated for the Grammy Awards in 2014 for his compositions in the Best Chamber Music category, Sanlıkol is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and a professor in the Department of Music History/Musicology at the New England Conservatory. He has also taught at Emerson and Brown and is a Fellow of CMES Harvard University. Besides being an expert on jazz and other Western styles, Sanlıkol is a dedicated ethnomusicologist who has done extensive research on traditional Turkish musical styles and instruments. He is also a renowned pianist, singer and ney player, and performed with his trio at the museum’s opening on August 21.

An expat’s collection at the Ibrahim Alimoğlu Music Museum

This is not the first time that a music enthusiast and collector of musical instruments has donated a collection to create a museum for the public; however, this may be the first time an expat is the one to donate a collection of Turkish and other instruments. In 2014, the Ibrahim Alimoğlu Müzik Müzesi (Ibrahim Alimoğlu Music Museum), the largest museum of musical instruments in Turkey, opened in the building of the State Conservatory of Afyon Kocatepe University (AKÜ) . The conception of establishing a musical instrument museum was stimulated by the collection of various ancient and regional instruments of local businessman from Afyonkarahisar, Ibrahim Alımoğlu, who previously kept the collection in his factory. Additionally, German musician, collector and expat Wolfgang Ott donated 250 musical instruments he had collected. Along with various other donations, the museum has a total of 540 instruments on display, making it the largest musical instrument museum in Turkey to date.

Wolfgang Ott happens to reside part-time in the Dalyan area of ​​Muğla. His collection, which includes pieces from the Middle Ages and python skin and ivory instruments from Africa, is the culmination of 46 years of travels around the world.

Turkish davul drums on the grass. (Photo Shutterstock)

Discover the Eskişehir Music History Hall

At Anadolu University in Eskişehir, there is the Türk Dünyası Bilim Kültür ve Sanat Merkezi, an academic, artistic and cultural center focusing on the Turkish “world”. The center also houses a “Müzik Tarihi Salonu”, which is an exhibition hall with more than 216 instruments from Turkish and Islamic history. Opened in 2018, the instruments are listed in chronological order and visitors can listen to the sounds they produce from headphones. Concerts are held on the premises and there is also an “experience room”, where 50 musical instruments can be played. The instruments here were donated by ethnomusicologist and famous luthier Feridun Obul, who researched and reproduced 800 musical instruments from around the world. The other person whose collection is on display is none other than the late and beloved Dr. Rahmi Oruç Güvenç, an ethnomusicologist and musician who founded TÜMATA (The Group for the Research and Promotion of Turkish Music).

Why TÜMATA is important

Formed in 1976 to research and promote the development of Turkish music, its therapeutic value and the richness of instruments in the region, TÜMATA has been instrumental in the continuation of traditional Turkish musical practices to this day. They have produced albums and organized multiple festivals and retreats and have numerous publications on historical Turkish musical traditions. With centers that have been part of a number of universities in Istanbul and Europe as well as an intimate instrument museum and teaching center in Sultanahmet, TÜMATA offers tuition in a number of traditional instruments Turks such as rebap, ud-kopuz, vseng and ney.

Erkan Oğur School of Music: Learn from the maestro

Considered Turkey’s best guitarist and bağlama player, Erkan Oğur also pioneered the fretless guitar at the age of 22. Last year, the famous musician opened a music school in the Gümüşlük district of Bodrum, which offers lessons in a variety of Turkish. instruments, such as the bağlama and the kopuz which are taught by the maestro himself and others.

Discover Istanbul’s Free Music Lessons

For those in Istanbul, the ISMEK continuing education courses offered by the municipality are a wonderful opportunity for anyone who wants to learn more about just about anything. From arts and crafts to personal development, language learning, clothing design, food, bookkeeping and more, classes are free and offered at centers across the city. The centers also offer a range of musical instrument lessons from piano, guitar, cello and violin to a variety of Turkish instruments such as bendir, kanun, ney, rebap and bağlama.

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