24 March 1879
28 January 1953 (aged 73)
Neyzen Tevfik Kolaylı (1879-1953) was a Turkish musician and poet.
Tevfik was born on 28th March 1879 in Bodrum, and spent the first nine years of his life in Bodrum, Urla, and Izmir. After attending Bodrum High School, where his father was headmaster, and Urla High School after his father became headmaster there, he was sent to the Izmir Lyceum. At the age of fifteen he began to suffer from epilepsy, however, and was unable to complete his education. At the age of nineteen he was sent to a medrese (religious school), in Istanbul, but didn't take to this system of education and thought, and again left before completing his studies.
He educated himself, however, learning French, Arabic, and Persian, and achieved such an understanding of Sufism and mystic thought that he was given special recognition by the master of the subject, Abdülbaki Gölpınarlı.
Tevfik's anti-authoritarian and rebellious personality brought him to the attention of the authorities, and he was arrested. After a long and exhausting trial, he was convicted on thirty-five counts, and at the beginning of 1902 he fled the country and went to Egypt, where he stayed until the declaration of the second constitutional monarchy.
In 1910 he married, but the marriage failed, and when his daughter Leman was three months old he left his wife. He spent World War l as a soldier under the command of Muhtar Paşa, founder of îhe Army Museum in Istanbul, and as head of the Mehter (Ottoman military band). After the war, he was decorated for his activities in the rebellion that had begun to brew in Anatolia, and in the Turkish War of independence. The declaration of the Republic brought with it an effort to establish a new sociefy in Turkey, and there was much hostility towards the old order and its remnants. Struggling constantly with duplicity, fraud, profîteering, opportunism, during the final chapter of his life he was characterized as "a walking admonition to others through his instrument, his words, and his straightforwardness."
He was smitten at the early age of 7 by the voice of the ney, and was so bound hy his passion for this voice that it was the most basic element of his existence. From surviving recordings, as well as awe-filled testimonies of those wriîers who heard him play, we can gain some idea of how that passionate bond moved him.
Neyzen Teyfik was not only a musician, he was a poet as well. Aside from his poetry dealing mth existential maners afid mystic love, he also wrote satirical poetry, and it is chiefly to this type of poetry that he owes his fame and renown as a poet. With curses and a razor-sharp longue, his sattre gained a wide appreciation among the people.
Because of his ralher scattered way of life, this artist mth his singular personality, did not leave behind a truly representative legacy of his creative talent. Of his poetry, three books remain. Of the neariy 100 recordings he made, only a very few have survived to our day, as well as two compositions.
He died on 28th January 1953 in Istanbul, at the age of 74.
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