Istanbul International Music Festival
The Istanbul International Music Festival, formerly Istanbul Festival, (Turkish: Uluslararası İstanbul Müzik Festivali) is a cultural event held every June and July in Istanbul, Turkey. It offers a selection of European classical music, ballet, opera and traditional music performances with the participations of famous artists from all over the world. The festival was first held in 1973 and is organized by the Istanbul Foundation of Culture and Arts. Its main sponsor is the Eczacıbaşı Holding.
The festival was the idea of Turkish businessman Dr. Nejat Eczacıbaşı. The first Istanbul Festival was held from June 15 to July 15, 1973, on the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey. From its first inception, the Istanbul Festival has aimed at including in its programs the finest examples of artistic creativity in all disciplines of art from both Turkey and abroad, as well as seminars, conferences and lectures. So, other festivals dedicated to film (1984), jazz (1986), contemporary art (1987) and theater (1989) were added to the program of Istanbul Festival. From 1994 on, the name was changed to Istanbul International Music Festival to distinguish it from the other sister festivals. It is accredited as a member of European Festivals Association since 1977.
From its beginning, the festival hosted world renowned artists and groups from La Scala Philharmonic (Riccardo Muti), New York Philharmonic (Kurt Masur and Zubin Mehta), Berlin Philharmonic to Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Wolfgang Sawallisch), Dresden Staatskapelle and the soloists, orchestra and chorus of the Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov Opera), from Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (Gidon Kremer) to Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Charles Mackerras and Richard Hickox), from Tokyo String Quartet to Hilliard Ensemble, from Aldo Ciccolini to Ivo Pogorelich, from Yehudi Menuhin to Itzhak Perlman, from Julian Lloyd Webber to Mischa Maisky, from Narciso Yepes to Christopher Parkening, from Leyla Gencer to Montserrat Caballé and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, from Bolshoi Ballet to American Ballet Theatre and to Mark Morris, Mehmet Sander, Kibbutz dance companies; and such traditional music groups as Istanbul Oriental Ensemble of Burhan Öçal, Kudsi Erguner’s Tac Mahal project and Whirling Dervishes. The 31st festival saw the prominent conductor Lorin Maazel with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and a legend of the music world, Cecilia Bartoli, who received an enthusiastic standing ovation from the audience for several minutes.
Within the context of the seventh centennial celebration of the founding of the Ottoman Empire, Vivaldi's Bajazet opera was selected for an exclusive performance. World famous violinist, director and musicologist Fabio Biondi brought this lengthy opera to a powerful two and a half hour performance. Attracting a great deal of attention, this world premiere version of Bajazet was staged at the Hagia Irene Museum for the 27th International Music Festival.