Travel back in time to the world of Cantemir — a Moldavian prince, scholar, musician, and royal guest of the Ottoman court. Surround yourself in Cantemir’s compositions, traditional Moldavian tunes, and new works in his honor by composers Lou Harrison and Yalçin Tura. Both Western and Turkish/Ottoman classical music lovers will easily embrace this collection, artistically directed by Ihsan Özgen and Linda Burman-Hall.

Ihsan Özgen, Linda Burman-Hall
& Lux Musica

Cantemir: Music in Istanbul and Ottoman Europe around 1700



  • Ihsan Özgen (kemençe & tanbur)
  • Linda Burman-Hall (early keyboards & bendir)
  • Lux Musica
  • Lars Johannesson — flute & piccolo
  • Ihsan Özgen — kemençe & tanbur
  • David Wilson — violin & viola
  • Amy Brodo — viol
  • Mesut Özgen (lute, early guitar, percussion)
  • Linda Burman-Hall — harpsichord, virginal, percussion, director

Producer: Ates Temeltas
Recorded on November 25 & 26, 2000 in Santa Cruz, California
Recording Engineer: Eliot Bates
Mixing & Mastering: Eliot Bates
m/iq Productions, Berkeley, California, 2002
Graphic Design: Siir Özbilge

Genre: Early Music, Ottoman Classical.


The World of Cantemir: Istanbul and
Ottoman Europe around 1700
1. Syrba – Moldavian Dance (Floria 2; baroque violin, viol) 1:34
2. Syrba – Moldavian Dance (Floria 5; baroque flute, historical guitar) 1:19
3. Beraber Taksim – Collective Improvisation (viol, kemençe, baroque flute) 2:24
4. Zhok de Nante – Moldavian Dance (Floria 41; virginal, baroque violin, viol) 0:45
5. Ostropesul – Moldavian Dance (baroque piccolo, baroque violin, viol, virginal, tambourine) 1:43
6. Syrba with Taksim – Moldavian Dance
(Floria 11; baroque flute, baroque violin, viol, virginal with kemençe improvisation)
7. Bestenigar Taksim – Improvisation (kemençe, virginal) 1:51
8. Pesrev in makam Bestenigar / usul berefsan (16/8) – Dimitrie Cantemir
(kemençe, virginal, baroque violin, nakers)
9. Tanbur Taksimi – Improvisation (tanbur solo) 1:24
10. Saz Semaisi in makam Neva / usul aksak semai (10/8) – Dimitrie Cantemir
(tanbur, virginal)
11. Saz Semaisi in makam Rast / usul aksak semai 'Teresüd' (10/8) – Dimitrie Cantemir
(virginal solo with tambourine)
12. Syrbas – Moldavian Dances
(Floria 1, 3; baroque piccolo, viol, baroque violin, virginal, tambourine)
New Music in Honor of Kantemiroglu (Prince Cantemir)
13. Kemençe Taksimi – Improvisation (kemençe solo) 0:59
14. In Honor of Prince Kantemir (from Rhymes with Silver, 1996) Lou Harrison (Peermusic IIILtd., BMI) (kemençe solo with baroque viola, viol, kudüm drums, wrist bells) 3:43
15. Beraber Taksim – Collective Improvisation
(harpsichord, viol, baroque flute, baroque violin, kemençe)
16. In Honor of Kantemiroglu (2000) – Yalçin Tura
(kemençe, harpsichord, guitar, baroque flute, baroque violin, viol)
Turkish Images, European Reflections
17. A Turkish Air (Travels and Observations, 1738) Thomas Shaw (1694-1751)
(violin, harpsichord)
18. Marche a la Turque (Pièces de viole, Book V, 1725) Marin Marais (1656 – 1728)
(viol, harpsichord, military drums)
19. Marche pour la cérémonie des Turcs (Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, 1670) J-B. Lully (1632 – 1687)
(Baroque flute, Baroque violin, viol, harpsichord, military drums, tambourine)
20. The Turks’ dance (Augurs, 1622) Ben Jonson (1572/3 – 1637)
(Baroque violin, viol, harpsichord, military drums, tambourine)
21. New metar (The Dancing Master, 1665) John Playford (1623 – 1686)
(Baroque piccolo, Baroque violin, viol, harpsichord, tambourine)
The World of Cantemir: Istanbul and
Ottoman Europe around 1700
22. Rast Taksim – Collective Improvisation (kemençe, Baroque violin, viol, bendir) 3:46
23. Pesrev in makam Rast / usul berefsan (16/8) Dimitrie Cantemir
(kemençe, bendir, baroque violin, lute, viol)
24. Zhok de Nante – Moldavian Dance (Floria 31; baroque flute, baroque violin, viol, bendir, tambourine) 1:16
25. Pençgâh Taksim – Improvisation (kemençe solo) 1:39
26. Saz semaisi in makam Pençgâh / usul aksak semai (10/8) – yürük semai (6/8) – Bulgariaska (Floria 16) – yürük semai (6/8) – aksak semai (10/8) Dimitrie Cantemir and Moldavian Dance (kemençe, bendir, baroque violin, lute, viol) 4:17
27. Hüseyni Taksim – Collective Improvisation (kemençe, baroque flute) 2:01
28. Pesrev in makam Hüseyni “subh-i seher” / usul sakil (48/8) Dimitrie Cantemir (kemençe, bendir, baroque flute, viol, wrist bells) 3:32
29. Buselik Taksim – Collective Improvisation (kemençe, baroque violin, viol, virginals) 2:21
30. Pesrev in makam Buselik / usul devr-i-revan (14/16) Dimitrie Cantemir
(kemençe, virginals, baroque flute, baroque violin, viol, tambourine)
Total time: 72:27

Cantemir: Music in Istanbul and Ottoman Europe around 1700

The world of Cantemir arises in the crossroads of Western and Eastern thought, in the collision of Europe with the Ottoman Empire, and at the junction of Byzantine culture with Islamic theology. Our recorded recital celebrates the wondrous life of Prince Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723), a royal Moldavian linguist-encyclopaedist-composer who through curious fate spent 22 years as a diplomatic guest of the Ottoman court. While Prince Cantemir’s continuous presence in the orbit of four successive ruling Sultans must have furthered a harmonious relationship between the Ottoman Court and his father, the Moldavian Voivode, Cantemir himself clearly preferred music to politics, and was sufficiently gifted to play his way to fame as the greatest of classical Turkish musicians.

The life of Cantemir perfectly embodies the contrasts and culture flows of his world. At the time of his birth, Moldavia, his homeland, --which later became part of Romania, -- was governed by the Ottoman Turks. Since Cantemir’s father, a valiant warrior-King, could only rule his native land as a vassal of the Ottoman Sultan, young Dimitrie was sent at age 15 to Istanbul to insure Moldavia’s ‘loyalty’. From his arrival in 1688, the young Prince distinguished himself by a sincere interest in learning in all its forms. As a well-supported royal guest, Cantemir (or Kantemiroglu, as he called himself) became as highly regarded for his hospitality as well as his intellect. His prodigious facility in languages such as Latin, Turkish and Arabic expanded his Byzantine Greek education and allowed him to converse and study broadly.

Immersed now in a recently secularized society that valued Classical music as a primary element in public life as well as a high form of religious expression, a society that expected almost all children of dignitaries to pursue the study of music, Cantemir was inspired to study the tanbur, a long-necked Turkish lute. As his command of the historical Ottoman repertoire and theory grew, his talent for playing classical Turkish music also became widely known. His teachers in music, who must have taught him kemençe (fiddle) as well, were respected Greek musicians. Cantemir also cultivated relationships with other noble Christians, and befriended French, Dutch and Russian ambassadors, visitors and emissaries. Even in the cosmopolitan environment of Istanbul, the near constant stream of international luminaries through his life gave his palace ‘a mysterious aura’.

Working as a scholar almost as often as he played, Cantemir developed a unique notation system to document his music study. His treatise Edvâr, a major contribution to musicology that is only now taking its rightful place, preserves 352 works (315 pesrev and 37 semâ’î) known in his time. His original compositions in innovative style continued to be popular for decades after his departure from Istanbul, and even now some tunes in oral tradition are still ascribed to Cantemir. His style as expressed in the complex multi-part classical forms and often long rhythmic cycles of the Classical pesrev and saz semai forms, while firmly grounded in Ottoman melodic traditions, seems tinged with European harmonic notions and occasional ‘western’ turns of phrase.

Cantemir returned to Moldavia only twice during his long years in the Ottoman world. His return in 1691 lasted two years until the death of his father briefly put Cantemir onto the throne for a miserable term of three weeks. Removed by the Turks and returned to Constantinople, Cantemir resumed his music studies. When his elder brother became Moldavian ruler, Cantemir became his envoy to the Ottoman court. In 1699, he again returned to Moldavia, marrying a Wallachian princess in order to have a future claim to rule the adjacent Kingdom along with his own.

In 1710, the Ottomans trusted Cantemir to assume rule in Moldavia. The beautifully wistful and bittersweet Saz Semai in makam Neva (Tr. 10) is the legendary composition Cantemir supposedly performed on tanbur for the Sultan at his nomination to rule. But soon after he was installed, Cantemir, feeling his position to be untenable in a time of war, betrayed the Sultan by secretly negotiating to help Tsar Peter of Russia ‘liberate’ Balkan Christians from Ottoman rule. When Tsar Peter’s campaign through Moldavia was defeated, Cantemir avoided capture by the angry Turks by hiding for days in one of the Tsarina’s carriages. Eventually the Cantemir family with their Moldavian loyalists and Greek courtiers were able to join the retreating Russian army, travelling into exile.

During the twelve years Cantemir lived in Russia as advisor to Peter ‘the Great’, he wrote extensively as an orientalist and scholar. Musically, he assisted in the translation of Byzantine liturgy for the Russian Orthodox service, while his daughter Maria became well known as a harpsichordist in Russia, performing the ‘Italian’-flavored European classics favored by the upper classes. Although Cantemir was ordered by Tsar Peter to adopt European-style daily dress, he reportedly delighted in dressing up on holidays, occasionally staging nostalgic Turkish tableaux atop his parade float, costumed as a Vizier and reclining under a canopy with ‘Turkish’ attendants. With father/daughter performing skills ranging from Moldavian dance tunes to Ottoman and European classics, one can imagine common ground as well as contrasts in the private concerts of the Cantemir family, where the Turkish tanbur could meet instruments of the harpsichord family and many other imports from Europe known in both Ottoman and Russian courts.

Our program presents some of the finest works of Prince Dimitrie Cantemir (Kantemiroglu) in the varied contexts of his cultural world. Cantemir’s compositions are typically cast in pesrev or saz semai form, consisting of several sections (hane) with a ritornello (mülâzime or teslim) repeated after each. 

We perform Centemir’s Classical Ottoman compositions preceded by taksim preludes, a new improvisational genre in the time of Cantemir; and where appropriate, we also explore modal relationships in experimental collective taksim improvisations, a contemporary experiment in preluding pioneered by Ïhsan Özgen. In dervish Sema (devotional music played for dance), the pesrev would commonly follow the unmeasured taksim prelude as a formal metered prelude set in a major usul (i.e., a rhythmic cycle of more than 15 beats). At the conclusion of the dance with its traditional music, another pesrev or saz semai may be played.

In addition to his compositions, we also present traditional Moldavian tunes such as Cantemir might have heard back home at his wedding. and European alla Turca reflections of Ottoman music played in Baroque style. The continuing significance of Cantemir as a force in Eurasian composition and performance is shown through recent compositions by Yalçin Tura of Turkey and Lou Harrison of the United States, honoring a remarkable life that continues to resonate.
Linda Burman-Hall

Prior to Dede Efendi, lyrics of most compositions belonged to Divan poetry (Ottoman classical school of poetry). Dede Efendi also used his own poetry, as well as folk songs, as lyrics for his pieces. As a modal innovator, he created the Sultanî-Yegâh, Neveser, Saba-Bûselik, Hicaz-Bûselik, and Araban-Kürdî makams. While expanding Turkish traditional music with his secular and religious works, Dede Efendi also wrote pieces with the influence of Western music that he heard in the Palace.

New Music Composers

Lou Harrison, (1917 — 2003), who studied with Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg, was an internationally celebrated artist whose works are widely performed and recorded. An innovator known for his devotion to the distinctive tonal systems, instruments, ensembles and forms of Asian musics, Harrison is remembered for his creative use of early European tuning systems in compositions for historic and innovative instruments. In addition to his work in composition and instrument design, Harrison was at various times active as a conductor, painter, author and poet, calligrapher and font designer, and as a teacher and critic. His works were commonly interdisciplinary. He taught at colleges such as Black Mountain, San Jose State, Mills, Reed, University of Southern California, and Stanford. He received two Guggenheim Fellowships and a three-year Phoebe Ketchum Thorn Award, and was also honored with grants and awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Late in life he was presented with the 41st MacDowell Medal of Honor for his distinguished contributions to the field of music. As a multi-talented composer-innovator, he was the subject of several films and book-length studies. 'In Honor of Prince Kantemir', here arranged by Linda Burman-Hall to feature the Turkish instruments that inspired its composition, is based on the scale d – eb – f – g – a – b – c – d, with a rhythm cycle of 26 beats, divided 5 + 5 + 7 + 9.

Yalçin Tura, (1934), a well-known Cantemir scholar, recently published a full transcription of Cantemir’s “Book of the Science of Music” and wrote a Concertino for kemençe and 5 baroque instruments in honor of Cantemir during Summer 2000. He has been on the music faculty at the State Conservatory of Turkish Music in Istanbul since 1976, where he is director and head of the department of musicology. Mr. Tura studied violin with Seyfeddin Asal, harmony with Demirhan Altuõ, and counterpoint and composition with Cemal Resid Rey. Besides music, he also studied philosophy, pedagogy, and archeology at Istanbul University. A large portion of his compositions consist of film and stage music. His compositions comprise traditional Turkish makams (modes), jazz, folk, and symphonic musical elements. Mr. Tura won many awards for his compositions, which include two symphonies for large orchestra, sinfonia da camera, concertos for violin, viola and cello, toccata for orchestra, adagio for strings, works for violin and piano, string quartets, a ballet, and a melodrama. ‘Concertino for Kemençe and 5 Early Instruments’ was written in honor of Cantemir during Summer 2000, when Tura completed his edition of Cantemir’s book. The second movement is composed in saz semai form, in hüseyni makam (mode) with one strain in Saba makam, and in aksak semai usûl, a rhythm cycle of 10 beats, divided 3 + 2 + 2 + 3.

The Musicians

Ihsan Özgen (kemençe, tanbur, co-director), is a self-taught musician, composer and teacher of the Classical Ottoman music of Turkey. Although he performs on a variety of stringed instruments including kemençe, tanbur, lauta (Turkish lute) and violoncello, his fame is mostly associated with his performance on kemençe and his improvisation of melodic taksims. Through these broad performing activities, he has been able to develop innovative lefthand and bowing techniques for the kemençe. Ïhsan Özgen’s distinguished career includes decades of international performance in Classical Ottoman and recently with Bosphorus, composed of musicians from Turkey and Greece playing mixed a repertoire of Turkey and other Balkan and Middle Eastern traditional music, and the Anatolia Ensemble, an international ensemble which creatively explores the music of Asia Minor. Özgen is currently instructing stringed instruments playing techniques and history at the Istanbul Turkish Music Conservatory. He is the leading specialist and foremost interpreter of the works of Tanburi Cemil Bey, the outstanding creative composer of early 20th century Turkey. His recordings are available on several Turkish labels and most recently on the American label devoted to Turkish classical music, Golden Horn. At the time of this recording, Özgen was Regents’ Lecturer in the UCSC Department of Music.

Linda Burman-Hall (early keyboards, percussion, co-director) although perhaps best known as a performer of historic keyboard works, regularly performs a wide range of music, from works of the medieval mystic Hildegard of Bingen to world premieres of experimental works and new music. She currently teaches at University of California – Santa Cruz. She has performed in the United States, Europe and Asia as well as for National Public Radio. In contemporary music, she has performed with artists as diverse as Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros and Meredith Monk, and has commissioned, premiered, recorded, transcribed and/or edited new music by contemporary Indonesian composers, and performed several first recordings of works. As a specialist in music theory and performance, she holds degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles and Princeton University. Linda is also active as a musicologistethnomusicologist, with parallel career activities in early music performance and in Asian music research. She is founder and artistic director of Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, a nationally recognized early music producer. Her most recent recordings include 17th Century French solo music on Wildboar and an all Harrison solo recording on New Albion, as fortepiano and harpsichord concerto soloist with period orchestras on Centaur, and as director of other ‘crossover’ Lux Musica projects on the Kleos labels.

Lux Musica (Lars Johannesson – flute and piccolo, David Wilson – violin and viola, Amy Brodo – viol, Mesut Özgen – lute, early guitar, percussion, and Linda Burman-Hall, harpsichord, virginal, percussion, director) is an ensemble of virtuosi dedicated to presenting interesting and beautiful works from the Enlightenment, drawing on a versatile combination of historical flutes, violin or viola, violoncello or viola da gamba, and historic keyboards with percussion. Since its beginnings six years ago, Lux Musica has served as a core ensemble of Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, and presented concerts throughout Northern California. Ensemble projects have focused on the music of J.S. Bach, François Couperin, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, often contrasting Classical chamber works with parallel traditions of instrumental folk music. Lux Musica’s signature debut recording in 2000 was ‘Haydn & the Gypsies: Music in Style Hongrois’ (with violinist Monica Huggett). A humorous CD ‘Classical Cats’ followed in 2001. ‘Celtic Caravans: The Road to Romanticism’ (with soprano Julianne Baird) is scheduled for release in 2004, all on Kleos Classics.