Why Did Atatürk Say "This Music Is Far From Expressing Our Enthusiasm"


The year was 1928. It was August. I remember very well one of the charitable foundations (It was the Society for Protection of Children or The Aeroplane Society. Definitely not in my mind) had arranged a show in the park casino in Sarayburnu.

A very good orchestra and the famous singer of Egypt, Müniret-ül Mehtiye and his musicians (maybe they had been invited especially for this show) had been invited to this show.

Atatürk had taken his place at protocol near to stage among the cheering people. He replied with a friendly smile.

The Orchestra was playing arias from Tosca that Atatürk liked very much.

Now the Arabian singer is on the stage with his musicians singing songs in Arabic. Atatürk also liked Arabian music, which he had become used to in Damascus.

The Arabian singer was singing the song he had prepared before for Atatürk out of courtesy. People applauded and cheered when they hear Atatürk’s name in the song.

After the Arabian singer, the Turkish music group went on stage in bad clothes. Some of them were wearing trousers not suited to the jackets and some of them were not wearing a tie. They were not experienced, musicians mostly amateurs. They started to play “Sultan-ı Yegah Faslı” I also remember that night very well but let us listen to it from Burhanettin Ökte the Ney player of the Presidency Group who was sitting near Atatürk.

“Fasıl had an effect like a cold shower. The musicians were surprised when they saw Atatürk in front of them and they were seized with panic. They started to piffle. It was a big mistake of the organisation to get this music group on stage although they knew Atatürk would come to the organisation.

Atatürk boasting by saying “my nation, my music, my musician” in every convenience is very sorry, tonight which was arranged like a music contest, like a commander suffered defeat.

He promptly stood up angrily and this attracted the people’s attention. Everybody was in silence the musicians on the stage stopped too.

Atatürk said angrily,

- Let’s go, this music is far from expressing our enthusiasm.