Composer /Piano Fazil Say


With his extraordinary pianistic ability, Fazıl Say has been touching audiences and critics alike for 25 years in a
way that has become rare. Concerts with this artist are different concerts; they are more direct, more open,
more exciting. In short: they go straight to the heart. This is what the composer Aribert Reimann must have
meant when, during a visit to Ankara in 1986, he had the pleasure, more or less by chance, of hearing the then
16-year-old.  He  immediately  asked  his  companion,  the  American  pianist  David  Levine,  to  come  to  the
conservatoire in the Turkish capital, and he did so with the words that have since become commonplace: "You
have to listen to him, the boy plays like a devil".

Fazıl Say received his first piano lessons from Mithat Fenmen, a pianist who had studied with Alfred Cortot in
Paris. Fenmen - perhaps sensing how great the boy's talent was - asked his pupil to first improvise every day on
everyday themes before engaging in the necessary piano exercises and studies. It was in this engagement with
free creative processes and forms that the origin was laid for the enormous improvisational talent and aesthetic
outlook that forms the core of pianist and composer Fazıl Say's self-image. As a composer, Fazıl Say has been
commissioned  by  the  Salzburger  Festspiele,  the  WDR,  the  Schleswig-Holstein  Musik  Festival,  the  Festspiele
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the Wiener Konzerthaus, the Dresdner Philharmonie, the Fondation Louis Vuitton,
the  Orpheus  Chamber  Orchestra  and  the  BBC,  among  others.  His  output  includes  four  symphonies,  two
oratorios, various solo concertos and numerous piano and chamber music works.

Fazıl  Say  received  his  fine-tuning  as  a  classical  pianist  from  1987  onwards  with  David  Levine,  first  at  the
Musikhochschule "Robert Schumann" in Düsseldorf, and later in Berlin. In addition, he regularly attended master
classes with Menahem Pressler. Moreover, his outstanding technique soon enabled him to master the so-called
war horses of world literature with astonishing aplomb, and it was precisely this mixture of subtlety in Haydn,
Bach and Mozart, and virtuoso brilliance in the works of Liszt, Mussorgsky or Beethoven that finally led to his
victory at the International “Young Concert Artists” Competition in New York in 1994. Fazıl Say has subsequently
performed  with  all  the  renowned  American  and  European  orchestras  and  numerous  great  conductors,
developing a diverse repertoire ranging from compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach to the "classics" Haydn,
Mozart and Beethoven, as well as Romantic and contemporary music, including his own compositions for piano.

Since then, Fazıl Say has given guest performances in countless countries on all five continents; the French
newspaper "Le Figaro" called him "a genius". In the process, Fazıl Say has also appeared time and again as a
chamber musician. With violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, for example, he has formed a fantastic duo for years;
other prominent partners have included Maxim Vengerov, the Minetti Quartett, the Modigliani Quartett, Nicolas
Altstaedt and Marianne Crebassa.

From 2005 to 2010 Fazıl Say was the exclusive artist of the Konzerthaus Dortmund, in the 2010/11 season he
was Artist in Residence at the Konzerthaus Berlin, and at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival a programme
focus was dedicated to him in the summer of 2011. Further residencies and Fazıl Say Festivals were held in Paris,
Tokyo, Merano, Hamburg, Salzburg and Istanbul. He was resident artist with the hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt
in 2012/13, as well as with the Rheingau Musik Festival in 2013, where he was awarded the Rheingau Musik
Preis. In the 2013/14 season he performed five concerts as Composer in Residence at the Wiener Konzerthaus
and 14 concerts as Artist in Residence at the Bodenseefestival. In the 2015/16 season, the Alte Oper Frankfurt
and the Zürcher Kammerorchester invited him as Artist in Residence, during three seasons he was Artist in
Residence  at  the  Festival  der  Nationen  in  Bad  Wörishofen  and  in  2018/19  Composer  in  Residence  at  the
Dresdner Philharmonie. Since the 2019/20 season, Fazıl Say has been Artistic Partner of the Camerata Salzburg.

In December 2016, Fazıl Say received the International Beethovenpreis for Human Rights, Peace, Freedom,
Poverty Alleviation  and  Inclusion  in  Bonn.  In  autumn  2017, he  was  awarded  the  Music  Prize  of  the  City of

Fazıl  Say's  recordings  of  works  by  Bach,  Mozart,  Gershwin  and  Strawinsky  on  Teldec  Classics  as  well  as
Mussorgsky, Beethoven and his own works on naïve have been highly praised by record critics and have received
several awards, including three ECHO KLASSIK awards. In 2014, his recording of Beethoven works - the Piano
Concerto No. 3 with the hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt under Gianandrea Noseda as well as the Sonata op. 111
and the Moonlight Sonata - as well as the album "Say plays Say" with exclusively his own works were released.
In autumn 2016, Warner Classics released the recording of all Mozart sonatas, for which Fazıl Say received his
fourth ECHO KLASSIK in 2017. Together with Nicolas Altstaedt, he recorded the album "4 Cities" (2017). In
autumn 2017, Warner Classics released Frédéric Chopin's Nocturnes and the album "Secrets" with French songs,
which he recorded together with Marianne Crebassa and won the Gramophone Classical Music Award in 2018.
His 2018 album is dedicated to Debussy and Satie, while his latest release "Troy Sonata - Fazıl Say Plays Say"
features his own works. In January 2020, Fazıl Say's recording of all Beethoven piano sonatas was released by
Warner Classics and in the 2021/22 season he will record Bach's Goldberg Variations for Warner Classics.



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