archive of soloists

Fazil Say

Fazil Say

Being a composer and performer at the same time used to be matter of course in past centuries: Mozart and Beethoven were just that, Bach is known to have been a brilliant improviser on the organ, and piano legends like Chopin or Liszt composed many works for themselves. In today's generation of pianists, this does not appear to be the case– with one major exception: Fazıl Say is making a noise in the world with performances as well as compositions. Improvisation has been part of his daily engagement with music since his early childhood. His musical understanding is characterized by a great interest in jazz – he is slipping these elements in as a composer again and again. With his extraordinary mastery of the piano, Fazıl Say touches the audience in a very special way. His concerts are different. They are more direct, more open, more exciting, or in short: They strike at the heart. He is giving guest performances as a pianist and chamber musician on all continents, often in the company of Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Maxim Vengerov, the Minetti Quartet, Nicolas Altstaedt and Marianne Crebassa.

Fazıl Say was born in Ankara in 1970. He started playing the piano aged four. What inspired Say to compose was a workshop with David Levine and Aribert Reimann in Ankara. These two artists recognized his talent ("That guy plays like the devil") and helped him pay study visits to Düsseldorf and Berlin.

While winning first prize in the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York spurred his career as a pianist, he also saw to the composition of works for larger orchestras, including his 2nd piano concert, Silk Road.

As a commission from the Turkish Ministry of Culture, he composed the oratorio Nâzım, set to verses by the Turkish poet Nâzım Hikmet. In a violin concerto for Patricia Kopatchinskaja, he succeeded in building bridges between the music of his native country, jazz elements and European art music with an atmospheric orchestra texture and by the use of Turkish percussion instruments.  

His works embraces compositions for solo piano, chamber music and orchestra. He has been commissioned with compositions by the Salzburger Festspiele, WDR public broadcasting institution, Dortmund concert hall, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, amongst others.

The Dresden Philharmonic performed his 2nd symphony, Mesopotamia, a colourful portrait of the ancient cultural landscape between Tigris and Euphrates, in 2016, and will be opening the season with the world premiere of his 4th symphony, Umut.