Turkey Culture


Music is part of people’s everyday life and so genres and instruments are diverse. As large groups, Turkish art music, Turkish folk music with its shades (Özgün music, Arabesk, music of the Roma, the Kurds), and Turkish pop and rock music can be distinguished from one another. The musicologist Dr. Martin Greve researches the many facets of Turkish music and classifies them into familiar structures.

Examples of musical creation in a wide variety of styles:

  • Selim Sesler plays Roma music.
  • Ibrahim Tatlises represents Arabesk music, as does Orhan Gencebay and Müslüm Gürses.
  • Ahmet Kaya (died 2000) was famous as a singer of left-wing Turkish protest music (özgün müzik).
  • Tarkan is a Turkish pop singer who also became internationally famous with “Şıkıdım”.
  • Baba Zula originally played Turkish rock, combining rock, reggae, electronics with Turkish instruments.
  • Aynur Dogan sings Kurdish songs. She also performs at European festivals.
  • Sezen Aksu is the great lady of pop music. As a singer, songwriter and producer, she takes to the stage herself and also supports young artists in their development.
  • Ceza does Turkish rap.
  • Bandista is a music collective and combines ethno, ska and dub with a political message

At home in Turkish music are:

  • Saz instruments / long neck lute: Baglama (medium size)
  • Ud: short necked lute
  • Ney: Long flute

Turkish art music with oud, ney, violin and choir (43min)


According to naturegnosis, Orhan Pamuk has not only been the Turkish writer who, together with Yasar Kemal, has achieved great international fame beyond the borders of his country, not only since the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded. “The Museum of Innocence” was published in 2008. In April 2012, in Istanbul, in the Cukurcuma district, the “Museum of Innocence”, which belongs to the book and goes far beyond it, opened Melodrama of his city.

In addition, however, other names have appeared on the bestseller lists, the feature pages and in the literary business, which prove the creative explosion of current literary work. The new literary scene includes Murat Mungan, Ayse Kulin, Elif Safak, Perihan Magden, Tuna Kiretmitci, Hakan Günday, Murat Uyurkulak, Oya Baydar, Oguz Atay.

The literary work of this group is characterized by a departure from basic literary trends and a uniform political stance. Ahmet Oktay, one of Turkey’s most influential intellectuals, observes that in the new millennium, “the ideologies that influenced the literature of the republican era by permeating the subtext, the deeper level of meaning and the spiritual text structure, have given way to an individual attitude, and literature is far away every ideological influence of groups or currents produce. ”

An overview of the literary work of Turkey can be found in the Turkish Library, published by Unionsverlag. These are milestones in Turkish literature of all genres that have not yet been translated into German and represent the era between 1900 and the present. Even the Literaturca publishing and Dagyeli Verlag b ieten stimulation and information on the subject.

However, there are also German-Turkish authors such as Feridun Zaimoğlu, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Zafer Senocak, Selim Özdogan, Fatma Aydemir, Yade Kara and Hatice Akyün.

Visual arts

For a long time, modern painting had a shadowy existence in Turkey. In academic education, too, it was mostly about dealing with European models and less about one’s own creativity and conception.

This has changed fundamentally. The Turkish art scene is booming and exploding. Approaches, techniques, formats are as diverse as the topics that move the artists.

The center is Istanbul, which is also noticeable in the museum scene, which has founded an exhibition house for modern contemporary art with “Istanbul Modern”. In doing so, the city is responding to the increased international interest in Turkish visual arts. The artists working abroad and the processing of their creative ideas also find a home there. So far, the exhibits have been recruited from private foundations and banks. This is about to change and the house will also exhibit international artists.

A lively gallery scene has developed in the neighboring district of Tophane. Here, too, the year 2011 gave impetus when Istanbul was European Capital of Culture. The conceptual artist Sener Özmen or the all-rounder Ebru Özsecen are only examples of the new artistic power.

Istanbul Modern

Film, theater, dance

Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Cagan Irmak, Zeki Demirkubuz, Reha Erdem, Semih Kaplanoglu and Yeşim Ustaoğlu are the most important representatives of a new independent Turkish cinema that is also attracting great attention at international festivals.

The 60’s and 70’s are considered the “golden” era. Up to 200 films a year were produced in the Yesilcam studios in Istanbul. As a continuous film motif, there were stories about couples from different milieus who come together after detours and confusion. The 1960’s also represented a politicization of the cinema. The reverberation of the coup of 1960 can be found among others Yilmaz Güney in “Umut” or “Yol”.

Today Turkish cinema is becoming more and more differentiated. In addition to auteur films, mainstream cinema is also flourishing with melodramas and comedies. Overall, the domestic film industry is very satisfied. Approx. 40% of sales are generated with local productions.

Turkey’s theatrical tradition is completely different from the western one. Oral storytelling was widespread in Anatolia. Shadow plays and puppet theater were common formats. Only in the course of the re-establishment of the republic were state and municipal theaters based on the Western model. Mainly translations from the west were played. Mushin Ertugrul is considered the founder of the Turkish theater, Güngör Dilmen was one of the most influential theater writers.

In contrast to the boom in the visual arts and the film scene, creative theater activity was limited to a few initiatives, which, however, flourished as a result of the Gezi protests. However, scarce funding and political restrictions accompany the innovative work of the Istanbul Galataper form or Krek Theater Companie that of Berkun Oya was headed

All cities in Turkey have their own folk dances, which are accompanied by hand violins (Kemence), shepherd’s bagpipes (Tulum) or drums (Darbuka). The horon is common on the Black Sea coast. The Kafkas tradition is well known in Kars. Halay is danced in the eastern Mediterranean region, in eastern, south-eastern and central Anatolia. There are many professional dance groups, so this genre has developed into its own art direction.