History of Tango in Turkey

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Tango entered Turkey with 78 cycles stone pilasters. At that time, the taspilak and gramophone market in Istanbul was quite well-known and active. The availability of tango music in these markets was limited. However, with the increase in imports from Europe, Tango music and pilaks were also imported and took their place in the markets. These imports are one of the most important reasons for the Turkish society to know and adopt the European Tango at the beginning.

For the History of Tango in Turkey, it is necessary to go back. Those were the first years of the Republic. The society and the Republic were still very young, and the community life was extremely open to outside innovations. The styles coming from Europe started to become active and showed themselves in the social life. This also coincides with the periods when the distinction between men and women is about to disappear. Tango and dance, which wanted the union of men and women, became the symbols of this period.

Innovative composers were very active in the change process of society at the beginning of the Republic. These composers began to produce polyphonic music. It was quite common to come across operas and duets among them. Mazi, the first Turkish Tango, was composed during this period. Its composer was Necip Celal Antel. It was composed in 1928. However, it will be waited for four years to be registered. It was finally registered in 1932. Seyyan Hanım (Oskay) recorded the song. This is a tango that has remained a popular tango even today.

Mazi took its place as the first Turkish Tango. It has a great importance in terms of the history of tango in Turkey. It is necessary to clarify a small point here; A work named “Tango Türk” appears in catalogs before Mazi at that time. This piece was composed by Muhlis Sabahattin Bey. It is non-verbal work. It was registered in the Owner’s Voice catalog in 1928 with the code AX 467. Although Tango is mentioned in the title of the work, it has not been evaluated as Tango by the authorities. On the other hand, some sources claim that this work called Tango Türk is the first tango.

When we look at the first tangos, Süreyya Operetta, one of the most important musical influences of the period, catches our eye. The History of Tango in Turkey A great singer will win thanks to this operetta. One of the most important soloists of Sureyya Operetta is Afife Hanım, who has a very beautiful voice. Afife Hanım read and recorded the tangos Gül Tango, Şivekar, and Sevda. The year goes down in history as 1930. The important and common feature of these 3 tangos is that they were composed by European musicians and Turkish lyrics were written for the composition.

In the light of all these, we can say the following by witnessing the stone pilaks; Tango Turkish is the first non-verbal work recorded in the Tango field, but it is the first Turkish Tango with its historical structure. Although there is a ‘first’ race between these two Tango in terms of the History of Tango in Turkey, the past carries the Tango Form.

After Necip Celal, we had composers and musicians who produced high quality works. Among these names, we can count important masters such as Fehmi Ege, Necdet Koyutürk, Mustafa Şükrü, Kadri Cerrahoğlu. Among the themes covered in the works, love, passion, disappointment, nostalgia, separation and similar feelings were often. The History of Tango in Turkey has made a very good start by making use of existing music forms. Traditional music, which had a very important place in the history of Turkish society until then, also showed itself in innovative works. When the music is examined closely, it can be seen that the artists were also influenced by traditional music.

When the history of tango in Turkey is researched, we come across performances with high success rates among the singers since the first years of the Republic; Celal İnce, Secaattin Tanyerli, İbrahim Özgür, Bisen Alsan, Mefharet Atalay, Birsen Hanım, Afife Hanım, Saime Şengül, Nezahat Onaner, and Zehra Eren were some of our tango singers. The predominance of female singers immediately draws our attention.

Turkey’s first and most important bandoneon musician is Orhan Avşar. Orhan Avşar has a special place in Tango History in Turkey. For years, he has been tirelessly trying to serve tango with his Bandoneon. He is one of the most notable names of Argentine Tango in Turkey. He has struggled with poverty throughout his life, but has not given up on Tango.

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