Atatürk and Castanet Concert


Atatürk’s dinner was a meeting centre where all the issues of the country were being argued. These discussions generally continued until the morning sometimes were replaced by hours of entertainment. It was a resting day in Dolmabahçe palace. The selected singers and the players present were playing and singing the most favourite songs. Then Atatürk said:

- I wish a castanet player were here. We would listen.

The musicians glanced at each other. One of the guests said:

- One of my friends plays the castanets very well. If you let me, I could get him.

Atatürk asked:

- Who is he?

- He is the son of former governor Asaf Pasha named Şerif Sürmeli, my pasha.

- But it is too late. I am afraid to disturb.

- No, my Pasha he doesn’t go to sleep early.

Mr. Şerif’s address was given and a motorcycle police went.

Mr Şerif, himself told the rest part of the story:

- I heard the bell of the door and jumped out of bed, my wife too. I looked at the clock, it was past midnight. My wife went downstairs and opened the door I went down anxiously. There was an official policeman:

- Will you please come with me you are wanted at the palace.

- What is it for?

- I don’t know, but I have been ordered accodingly.

- Ok then, please let me get dressed.

- No it is urgent. There is no time to wait even a second.

- Shall I come with my pyjamas?

- Wear something over them.

I did so and sat behind him. We went with the wind under the anxious glances of my wife.

I was trembling with anxiety. When I entered the Palace one of our family friend met me. He asked me when he saw my miserable situation with my pyjamas:

- What is that?

I explained the situation.

- There is nothing to get anxious about.

I praised your castanets to Atatürk, now please go back and fetch your castanets.

The matter was understood but I could not control my nerves. When I returned to palace, I could not calm down.

- Please. I said. Raki. “I cannot stand in front of Atatürk in this emotional state”.

After drinking a few doubles of his private raki I went to in his presence and was introduced to him, then they showed me a place.

I was not satisfied for my first performance on the castanets. Because of not being calm. At the second performance the castanets were warbling among my fingers like a nightingale. I was trying to make the most magical sound with the wooden pieces melody by melody.

Atatürk’s interest was increasing minute by minute and his joy entering his sky blue eyes was filling my soul. He complemented me after finishing.

- I thank you I am very glad.

One of his friends, I can not remember his name,said:

- He has excelled all the Istanbul musicians that I have ever met.

The answer of Atatürk is still in my ear word by word:

- Being Turkish is enough to excell.