Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
|Died||6 December 1936
|Resting place||Edirnekapı Martyr's Cemetery, Istanbul|
|Occupation||Composer, poet and writer|
|Known for||Ottoman classical music|
|Spouse(s)||Giritli Sırrı Pasha|
|Children||Vedat Tek (son)|
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, while her father was the Ottoman governor of Crete.
She married Giritli Sırrı Pasha, a high-ranking Ottoman administrator of Cretan origin and a poet in his own right. In line with her husband's appointments, she traveled across Anatolia and the Balkans. In 1873, she gave birth to a son named Vedat, who became an architect. She settled in Istanbul after the death of her husband in 1895, and maintained close relations with the Ottoman palace.
From 1895 onward, 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 contemporary romantic poets. Her songs are strong in technique, emotional and closely faithful to the traditions of Ottoman classical music.
Leyla Hanım also wrote prose and published her memoirs, which explained in plain details the inner life and stories of the Ottoman palace, which have been translated into English, among other languages.
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 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 on 6 December 1936 and was interred at the Edirnekapı Martyr's Cemetery in Istanbul.
- Selcuk Aksin Somel. "Leyla Saz." The A to Z of the Ottoman Empire. Rowman & Littlefield, 2010 pg. 256