Turkish Movement and Its Effect on Mozart


factors of the fusion of two cultures. turquerie current and history will be examined together. Since the movement is a product of historical events and developments, if the historical analysis is taken into consideration; With the conquest of Istanbul, Rome, which served as a block between east and west, was destroyed and the physical distance between Europe and the Ottoman Empire decreased.

Fear and desperation towards this state, which followed expansionist policies, also increased. The main reason for the current feeling of fear and helplessness is the thought that the Ottomans were invincible and brutally used invincibility. This thought decreased with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Siege of Vienna in 1683, and even left its place from the idea of ​​brutality to the idea of ​​peace.

After the lost siege, the victors took the battle places behind the Ottomans; They had the opportunity to see the luxury side of the Ottoman Empire by examining the tents lined up like a city, the interiors of the tents arranged like a palace, the weavings and war equipment.

One of the manifestations of the defeat in the Ottoman Empire is that he started to send distinguished ambassadors to Europe. Europe was fascinated by the ambassadors and their curiosity towards the East was reinforced by the influence of these ambassadors. These ambassadors are the first steps of Turquerie fashion in Europe.

In addition to these, mehter bands were sent to the European palaces by the Ottomans as a representation of diplomatic peace at that time. Having the court artists prepare a concert by using these sets in order to be a gesture to the Ottoman ambassadors who came from the European palaces, paved the way for the formation of the Turquerie movement in music.

It can be said that the main reason why the movement, which started in the 15th century, spread over a wide area and reached the 18th century, is the ambassadors, merchants and artists.

It is a movement that has been influential from music to art, from performing arts to the fashion of the period. As a result of this, people of the period were able to go to a Turkish-themed theater, an evening entertainment, an opera, a performance, and even attend events such as masquerades while dressed as Turks. It is accepted that Easterners are more fond of love, more impulsive and more tolerant than Europeans. With Turquerie, elements such as lust and luxury have found a place in western literature.

The ruler who found himself the most place in opera works is Kanuni. It ruled for many years, spent a lot of time at the front, and many events took place in the harem. Therefore, it has already served as an endless resource in the creation of works for European artists who are interested in this aspect of the east.

Of the many Solimano (Solomon) operas staged in the 18th century, the most admired are the works of the German composer Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783) in Dresden and the Italian composer Dedide Perez (1711-1778) in Lisbon.

If it is necessary to continue with the examples of the period, which include Turkish elements and events from the recent history of the period; Muhammed 2 opera, Cara Mustapha and Tamerlano can be given as examples. Mohammed 2 is an opera composed by Reinhard Kaiser (1693). The subject of the opera is the intrepid Mehmet, who even practices fratricide to eliminate his rivals.

Johann W. Franck's Cara Mustapha (1686) differs from other works of the period in that it describes a contemporary event. The work deals with the siege of Vienna by Kara Mustafa, the grand vizier of Mehmet IV. According to the sources, it was staged before the siege was over. In Tamerlano (4), the defeat of Sultan Bayezid I against the Mongol ruler Timur in the Battle of Ankara is described. This event was especially important for Europe. Because, according to Europe, this defeat of Sultan Bayezid delayed the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. Because of this importance, it has been the subject of many works. However, the most notable among them is Handel's Tamerlano.

Opera d'arte Solimano II che sposa Roselane e fa uccidere il figlio Mustafà di Boulanger Jean (1606/ 1660)

The family of the sultan and the humiliation he experienced are the subject of the work. In addition, a love triangle is described between the sultan's daughter, the Greek emperor's son and Timur. The most striking aspect of the opera is Bayezid's suicide by drinking poison.

Until the first half of the 18th century, heroic operas were dominant, but in the second half they left their place to this mystery. Likewise, if the first half is compared, the realism of the oriental characters and customs is more in the second half. Therefore, the second half of the century has become more magical for the audience, with the richness of the stage, decor and costumes as well as the attractiveness of the subjects. The subjects can be summarized as the competition of women in the harem in general.

The best example of the genre is the opera Soliman 2 ou les Trois Sultanes (Suleiman the Magnificent and his Three Favorites), written by Charles Simon Favard. The story briefly deals with the rivalry between Spanish Elmire, Circassian Delia and French Roxalena, who are intent on winning the heart of the sultan. At the end of the story, Hürrem wins the victory and becomes my sultan's wife. Hürrem's clothes are genuine Turkish clothes ordered from Istanbul. This is quite impressive for the period. Because in the period, female actors took part on the stage with a few accessories with the colors of the region in addition to the latest fashion clothes, while the men took part in a more realistic turban, belt and long caftan.

By the end of the century, Gretry's La Caravare du Cario (Cairo Caravan) was one of the best Turkish operas. It was so acclaimed in Europe that it was staged five hundred times from 1783 to 1829, even in Paris alone. The fact that it attracted so much attention was attributed to two reasons; The first is that it is thought that Louis the 14th is also included in the text of the opera, and the second is that it is one of the rare works in which an eastern heroine and a European heroine are couples.

Another subject of interest was the kidnapping of a concubine from the harem. The most common story is the attempt to save a young girl who was abducted as a child or recently, by her child or family member. However, the kidnapping attempt fails and both the concubine and her savior are captured. The story ends either with the cunning defeat of the sultan or with the sultan's voluntariness and freeing his captives.

Among the works on the harem and rescue, the most artistic is Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Abduction from the Palace), which is considered a masterpiece in the Turkish opera genre. The relationship between the sultan and the concubine, which is mentioned in the other stories, appears in this story as the pasha-hatun. Selim Pasha falls in love with his prisoner Constanza, but his love is unrequited. The pasha, who could not find a return for his love, got very angry at the situation and started to display the "brutal Turk" as a tyrant. Later, the pasha learns that Constanza's captured savior is the son of his archenemy.

At first, Selim, who had the pleasure of getting his revenge, later appeared in front of the audience as a sympathetic person. He frees his captives and sends a message to his enemy:

“Rewarding injustice with justice has made me happier than repaying evil with evil.”

Speaking of Mozart, it would be useful to examine Mozart's works, which contained Turkish elements, in more detail.

Mozart was closely interested in Ottoman-era Turkish music and used Ottoman music rhythm and other musical elements in his works.

The Turkish-themed works of the artist are as follows in chronological order:

1. Le Gelosie del Seraglio KV Anh. 109/135a (1772)
2. Violin Concerto No:5 in A DUR, KV219 (1775) 
3. Zaide, Singspiel KV344 (1779-1780)
4. Die Entführung aus dem Serail KV384 (1782) 
5. Piano Sonata No:11 in A DUR, KV331 (1783)

Le Gelosie del Seraglio KV Anh. 109/135a (1772)

Le Gelosie del Seraglio (Palace Jealousy Ballet) written by Mozart in 1772, influenced by Ottoman Period Turkish Music, was performed between parts of the Lucio Silla opera, which was staged twenty times. The work is staged between the first and second parts of the opera, but it seems to have no connection with the subject of the opera.

The subject of the ballet is the intrigues in the harem of the Ottoman palace. When examined musically, the effects of Ottoman period Turkish music are rarely encountered.

Throughout the ballet, the focus is on the use of Ottoman intrigues rather than the effects of Ottoman period Turkish music.

Violin Concerto No:5 in A DUR, KV219 (1775)

Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 is also written in A-Dur tonality like the Turkish anthem. The fact that the motifs and rhythms of the eastern music are many and their tonalities are the same in these two works can be interpreted as reflecting the Turkish music of the Ottoman period. Although not very common in the first two parts of the work, Turkish motifs are clearly noticed in the third part.

While the string instruments in the first six measures continue calmly and in the same rhythm, Oboi and Corni started with dotted eighth and sixteenth notes and joined the piece strongly. As it is known, this rhythm is thought to be similar to the rhythm that the cymbals beat between pieces in mehter music.

Zaide, Singspiel KV344 (1779-1780)

The work is a love story set in the palace of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman in Istanbul. In terms of subject, it is very close to the Abduction from the Palace. The events take place in Istanbul in the XNUMXth century and the protagonist Zaide, who gave the opera its name, is the concubine of the Sultan. Christian girl falls in love with French slave Gomatz. The fugitives are caught while Allazim helps them escape from the palace. Before the death sentence was read, Allazim reminds the sultan that he once saved his life. Thus, the sultan forgives Allazim. However, the status of the lovers is unknown, because Mozart could not complete this work. It has been determined that the part of this work, which was influenced by the Turks, is the subject rather than the music.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail KV384 (1782)

Since the subject of the work is mentioned while exemplifying the European influence in the 18th century western classical music, a musical analysis will be made in this section.

Opera contains a lot of speech in accordance with the rules of the genre in which it is written. The grand overture is the opera's only large-volume symphonic movement. For the first time, percussion instruments, piccalo and litavres were used in this opera. It is seen that Mozart tried to create an atmosphere of janissary music in this way.

Piano Sonata No:11 in A DUR, KV331 (1783)

The first part is divided into Andante Graciozo, consisting of themes and variations, the second part is Menue and the third part is Rondo Alla Turca. Since the day it was published, the first two episodes did not receive much attention, but Rondo received a lot of attention. So much so that his name began to be called Rondo Alla Turca or Turkish March without asking the composer.

As mentioned in the introduction, there was also a mehter team in the Ottoman Empire's Paris embassy. It is highly probable that Mozart, who spent most of 1778 in Paris, witnessed at least one of the musical performances and ceremonies performed by the janissary band for various reasons. He correctly perceived the rhythmic structure of this music and used it in all his Turkish style works.

Deniz Demirci (2011) about Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca “In this piano sonata, he carefully selected and used Turkish percussion instruments, a rhythmic gait and rhythmic movements accompanying the melody, which fit the rhythmic structure of Turkish music, the style of Turkish percussion and wind instruments playing together. Mozart has successfully transferred it to the piano by using his own language, in the whistle and cura, in the colaratur departures, in the passages and in the bright and powerful couplets played by the horns. In Rondo Alla Turca, it is tried to give the effect of drum beat and stick beats with only accented and unstressed beats. The sound in the bass part Its repetitions, on the other hand, reinforced the atmosphere of Turkish music with the effect of the 'board' it created. Despite this monotonous effect and simplicity in harmony, it has become one of Mozart's most popular works.” was found.

As a result, physical rapprochement brought together diplomatic rapprochement and this rapprochement brought together eastern and western cultures under literature, performing arts and fashion.

It is seen that opera and ballet works are especially about war, captivity, harem life and intrigues. It is clear that the East is a great resource for European artists in this sense. Likewise, it is obvious that he is a source for Mozart both in terms of subject and music. He used rhythms similar to the mehter band in his opera, Abduction from the Palace. In the last episode of Alla Turca, Turkish traces are evident at the highest level.


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SCHMIDT-JONES,Catherine, (trans. UÇANER Burçin), Janissary Music and Turkish Influences on Western Music, International Journal of Musicology. Volume 1, Issue 1, p. 196-222, Istanbul

MEYER, R. Eve, Turkish Fashion and Music of the Eighteenth Century, History Magazine, Issue 56, pp.147-165, Istanbul

ÖKTEM,Aycan,(2019),The Effect of Traditional Turkish Ornaments on European Clothing Fashion and Art in the Period of Sultan Selim III, Master Thesis, Haliç University, Institute of Social Sciences, Istanbul

DEMİRCİ, Deniz,(2011),The Effect of Mehter Music in WAMozart's Works, Master Thesis, Başkent University Institute of Social Sciences, Ankara


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