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Müzeyyen Senar

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Biography

Müzeyyen Senar (b. 1919) is a Turkish singer of Ottoman classical music.

Born in Bursa, she moved to Istanbul when she was ten years old, growing up in Üsküdar. She stuttered as a child, but found refuge in singing.

When she was six years old, she already knew all the popular Turkish folk songs by heart. When she moved with her mother to Istanbul she entered the Anatolia (Üsküdar) Musical Society in 1931, which was later followed by further training at the Society of Oriental Music. Senar also found an opportunity to make the acquaintance of the most prominent composers of the period: Mustafa Nâfiz Irmak, Osman Nihat Akın, Selahattin Pınar, Yesari Asım Arsoy, and many others.

In 1932 she appeared on state radio. Senar, who could only reach the microphone if she stood on a box, quickly gaind popularity, learning all the major works of the art music repertoire as she did so, and further developing her skills by what she gleaned from such major artists as Safiye Ayla, Selma Hanım, Lale Belkıs, Nimet Hanım, Hikmet Rıza, and Feriha Hanım.

Before long she became a subject of widespread curiosity, and nightclub owners began vying with each other to present her. She appeared in public for the first time at Ibrahim Dervişzade’s Belvü, an Istanbul music hall. She was only fifteen years old and had to inflate her age to get permission to appear on stage.

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