Musicians from 10 countries are coming to Istanbul to perform
the musical compositions of Ottoman Sultans.

This project is an effort to present the works of our “Sultan Composers” with conductor and composer Musa Gocmen’s
contemporary musical and orchestral approach in a universal style.
Also, as these musical pieces have been composed with universal notation and orchestration, it is now able to be performed everywhere in the world.
Sultan Composers has been performed in many countries by the orchestras of those countries.
Guest musicians from ten different countries who will be performing the compositions of our sultans together with
the Musa Gocmen Symphony Orchestra at the “Sultan Composers” concert to take place in
Aya Irini, will also be performing songs from their own nations.


The Ottoman Empire has been a subject of discussion in Turkey and in the West for a long time, both in terms of politics and military history. From its establishment to its very last day, the interest of historians and enthusiasts in regards to this great empire, apart from exceptions, has always been focused on political struggles, diplomacy, military victories and defeats, economic issues and social movements. Those involved in European and Turkish history have also examined archives with the influence of this perspective and written history as such. Yet, sources depicting the countless dynasties reaching from China to as far as France, as well as their lifestyles, illustrate how the palace offered an incredibly disciplined and effective cultural education, and that making art was much more than just an ordinary hobby in the palace but in fact a serious, meritable occupation. Though delayed, we have managed to discover many years later that the empire, or more specifically, the palace, was not just a political and diplomatic authority, but also an institution of cultural and artistic education. We now know that this great empire of six hundred years had a unique and diverse range of cultural lifestyles in each period, with many ideas and many works of art emerging from within the daily palace life; growing, evolving and influencing society.

We have found out from recent studies focusing on Ottoman palace life that the dynasty and its circling levels of palace members all held a graceful, exquisite and exceptional aesthetic quality and taste; matching those of their contemporaries, if not surpassing them. And of course the Ottoman palace itself carried out the duty of being the polished and refined school of the concept of civilization whose qualities it carried. The palace, a small model of the Ottoman society composed of many different religions, languages and cultures, comes forth before us with flawless, spectacular examples produced from within this multicultural texture.

However, what is most surprising is the fact that this high aesthetic perception, or ‘zevk-i selim’ as it would have been described, did not owe its existence solely to artists which the sultan or statesmen patronized. Works of art remaining from the middle of the 15th century to the present day show us that the sultans, the core authority of the empire, were also artists themselves. Raised with a superior education in the arts starting from their childhood, sultans both became experts in the appreciation of art and produced art themselves. When we glance back in time, we are able to witness with awe how they were recognized to be at a level that could compete with the most famous names of their time in the fields of poetry and music, especially.

The “Sultan Composers” project in which we were only able to include a few of many poet and composer sultans, came to fruition from the desire to share this awe and excitement with the whole world. For artists from many different nations around the world to come together in Istanbul and for these works of art to come back to life in the magnificent architectural masterpiece, Aya Irini, located in the courtyard of Topkapi Palace, transforms this project into an even more beautiful and meaningful experience.

Even though Nef’i, the famous poet of the 17th century, declared with masterful confidence that Baki’s verses rendered Sultan Suleyman’s name eternal and historic with his words,

“If poets had not existed, how could anyone have known

How emperors entered this world with bliss, and left it with bliss?

Is it not Baki’s words that can be likened to the elixir of life,

Which will render Kanuni Sultan Suleyman alive till the end of time?”

it should not be forgotten that it is also Muhibbî (Suleyman’s pen name) which has rendered the name Kanunî eternal in this realm.

Prof.Dr. Şeref ATEŞ

Yunus Emre Institute