Turqueric Influence in Mozart's Alla Turca

Topics: Ottoman Empire, Violin, Classical music Pages: 6 (2363 words) Published: October 12, 2013
Turquerie was the Orientalist fashion that arose during 16th to 18th century in Western Europe. It is a ‘French term used to describe artifacts made in Turkey, or in France by Turkish craftsmen, and by derivation the influence on French design of elements from the Byzantine Empire, the Saljuq Islamic period and the Ottoman Empire.’ 1 In music, the influence of Turkish culture in European society also spurred composers like Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven to write music with the used of Alla Turca style in 18th century. Alla Turca was being referred to the ‘Turkish music’, however it is not purely music of Turkey but rather as a musical style. The authenticity of the westernized ‘Turkish music’ is one of the exoticism issues which has been highly debated among musicologist and composers for years. Before going deeper into the issues, I would like to touch on a bit of the historical and cultural background of turquerie and followed by the music analysis of some evocation of Turkish style in Mozart’s composition. According to Rabah Saoud, the Turkish style is represented by the term Turquesque in 1578, first used by Henri Espienne to refer to the elements of ‘Turkishness’ in the clothing of courtiers. It was later replaced by the term Turquerie in 1666 by Moliere in his book L’Avare.2 The Turkish fashion came in through political-military battle between Western European and Ottoman Empire. The trend was towards Turkish food, Turkish robe and Turkish music. The Turkish theme was used by composer in opera and instrumental music where the Alla Turca style began. New discoveries show that the influence of Turkish music was on the musical revival of Europe and it has been detected in 8th century which was exactly in the period of the Carolingian Empire.3 In 18th century, the evidence indicates that Ottoman Empire ruled over European continents and extended their influence on European music more than ever. From historical background, the rise and dominion of the Turkish Ottoman Empire came about during the 14th century. Ottoman Empire began to expand their land towards the western countries and rise into power across major sub-continents of Africa, Asia, India and Europe. The contact of European countries and Ottoman Empire started early in the 17th century when the First Crusade took place.4 The battlefield spirit of the Ottoman Empire gave rise to the Mehterhane, which is also known as Jannisary band that was founded in 1299, based on inherited traditions from their ancestors of the Suljuks.5 The band consists of six to nine peoples playing instruments such as the boru (trumpet), davul (bass drums), kos (giant kettle drums), zil (cymbals) and zurna (oboe). Ottoman soldiers were accompanied by the band as a motivator to stimulate the soldiers’ spirits and to terrify the enemies with the band’s vibrant sounds in the battlefield. ‘The defeat of the Janissaries at the gates of Vienna in 1683 leaving behind them their musical instruments was an event that led to the rise of European military bands.6 This gave rise to the European military bands after the second half of the 18th century, absorbed the vigorous spirit and colourful instrumentation of the Janissary music. The mehter band became the source of cultural exchange evidence from its appearance in the court of Polish and Russian monarchs in 1720s.7 Through the battle, Ottoman Empire realized the technical superiority of the Europeans, thus they sent ambassadors for political dialogues and search for new knowledge in technology and science. It resulted in both countries had the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the cultures of one another. 8 Turkish troops famously laid siege to Vienna in 1529, and again in 1683, which eventually resulted the popular fashion of incorporating ‘exotic' elements taken from Turkish art into local architecture, sculpture and music. The influence of Turkish culture prompted composers to insert the Turkish elements in their composition. The ‘alla...
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