Leyla Saz

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Leyla Saz
Born 1850
Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Died 1936 (aged 85–86)
Istanbul, Turkey
Resting place
Edirnekapı Martyr's Cemetery, Istanbul
Nationality Turkish
Occupation Composer, poet and writer
Known for Ottoman classical music
Spouse(s) Giritli Sırrı Pasha
Children Vedat Tek (son)

Leyla Saz, also called Leyla Hanimefendi in her time, was a Turkish composer, poet and writer.

Born in 1850 in Istanbul to a family of Ottoman aristocrats of Cretan Turkish origins, she was the daughter of İsmail Hakkı Pasha, (often called Hekim İsmail Pasha (İsmail Pasha the Doctor). She spent her childhood in the Dolmabahçe Palace, where she took private lessons in French, and later in ancient Greek and theology, when her father was the Ottoman governor of Crete.

She married Giritli Sırrı Pasha, a high-ranked Ottoman administrator of Cretan origin and a poet of his own right. In line with her husband's appointments, she traveled across Anatolia and the Balkans. She settled in Istanbul after the death of her husband in 1895, and kept in close relations with the Ottoman Palace. In 1873, she mothered a son named Vedat, who became a notable architect.

As of 1895, she dedicated herself to poetry and music, in both the Turkish and European schools. She took piano lessons and hosted people of art and science in her mansion.

She composed more than fifty songs, the texts of which were written by her contemporary romantic poets. Her songs are strong in technique, emotional and closely faithful to the traditions of Ottoman classical music.

Leyla Hanım also proved to be an expert in prose and published her memoirs, which explained in plain details the inner life and stories of the Ottoman palace, which have been translated, among other languages, into English.

She adopted the surname "Saz" (a family of Turkish musical instruments) in the frame of the 1934 Law on Family Names in Turkey. Apart from being a notable composer in the tradition of Turkish classical music, she is also, through her memoirs written towards the end of her life, one of the primary first-hand sources available to historians on the Ottoman harem, in the late-19th century context of that institution.

She died in 1936 and was interred at the Edirnekapı Martyr's Cemetery in Istanbul.