Memories of Ankara


It was the year of 1925.Everybody was very happy and joyful all around Ankara.

The Tashan pastry shop and the Samanpazarı cafe were offering the guests their familiar atmosphere, from the small officials to the general managers.

The most luxurious club of Ankara was the Şule Club on Ulus Square, where members of parliament and the ministers gathered and spent their time.

Nobody was arrogant or haughty in this friendly atmosphere. Sometimes it would be possible for a small official to have a dinner with a minister in these places that were the cause of friendships. Sometimes a high official could visit a friend living in a chamber in Öksüzce.

One night, we were gathered in one of our friends' house it and itwas nearly midnight. The door knocked. We opened it. A policeman and a watchman were looking for me.

It was formally reqested for the musician members of Presidency Music Fasıl Group to make sure to to leave the address and the telephone numbers to their houses wherever they went.

Promptly, I left for Çankaya. I had been in the music group only for three months and I was about to get used to the district and the Çankaya villa. The clear and the familiar atmosphere of the villa had dispersed my fright.

Atatürk was very cheerful that night. My friends arrived there before me and started to play.

Songs and Gazels followed each other.

Atatürk’s dinner always took a long time and was sure to be ornamented by Turkish Music.

A phonograph was used if the music group had not been called. And Turkish music certainly was listened to.

My aim in insisting on singing Turkish music was to show the future generations Atatürk’s love of and interest in our music.

Atatürk was also especially interested in western music. He liked some arias of Tosca and waltzes.

Some people say that Turkish music makes people indolent. This is a big mistake. I heard that through the manager of private secretarate Atatürk invited the local musicians of Ankara and listened to Turkish music even in the most critical days.

(My note: I had heard about it, Yağcı Fehmi who was one of the folk dancer of the folklore group that met Atatürk at his first visit to Ankara. He said that Atatürk had invited them to the mansion to watch their folk dancing and to listen to their songs. After the victory he had called the folk dancing group of Efe (special to Ankara) and watched their dancing with interest.

What is more, he sang and danced the famous song and folk dance of “Misket” of Ankara. Ankara’s famous musicians Genç Osman and Köfteci Cafer were honoured people who played in the presence of Atatürk).

Atatürk told this story when he was cheerful:

They met a hodja (a teacher or imam) with a turban. Atatürk asked the hodja some questions. Meanwhile a plane was flying in the air. Atatürk,by showing him the plane:

- Hodja, do you know how this plane flies? He asked.


- My pasha, I cannot know how this plane flies. Because I have not been taught to know.


- All right. What do you know?

Hodja is ashamed.

- If you tell me to get in this plane, I will get in, If you tell me to jump off from the plane, I will jump off without thinking for a second. I have just been taught this.

Atatürk was very glad to hear thar and told the story cheerfully.

That night he became more cheerful when we were playing the songs and asked us to play Zeybek. Şükrü Saracoğlu, Mustafa Necati were there and they are from the Zeybek district ( Western Anatolia). These two stood up to dance the Zeybek. They were dancing very well when we saw Atatürk start dance the Zeybek folk dance. Everybody stopped to see how beautifully he was dancing and suited himself to the male figures of the dance. The figures of the Zeybek were suitable for his body. Everybody was watching him in a great entrancement and this rapturous night finished.

(My note: Atatürk’s perfect dancing of the Zeybek is a fact. He was suitable for folk dancing by nature and because of his physique. There is a nice example. Accordingly, once he had danced in Artvin Bar with the Artvin dance group that he had never met before).