The Relationship Between Art and Politics in the 19th Century Ottoman Empire: Institutionalization, Change and Continuity
Şerif Muhiddin Targan: a Virtuoso Who Joined East and West on the Same Stage at the End of the Nineteenth CenturyBilen Işıktaş
The effects of modernization had reached their peak by the nineteenth century. By this point, major changes in the approach to fine arts had taken place, both in the East and the West. These reforms were particularly evident in the domain of fine arts, especially music. Many Muslim writers, thinkers, and artists belonged to the Eastern branch of European Renaissance. The centuries that followed the Renaissance also witnessed the emergence of personalities who established such connections, highlighting the existence of permeable borders between two civilizations. Simultaneously, these towering figures brilliantly articulated the cultural sphere they represented. On January 21, 1892, at the dawn of the 20th century, a privileged, 37th generation descendant of Prophet Muhammad’s family was born in Çamlıca, an elite neighborhood in Ottoman Istanbul. This individual grew up to become the reputable master Şerif Muhiddin [Haydar] Targan, whose music influenced both Eastern and Western cultures. Targan earned the title Rabb’ul Ud (Lord of Oud) as a virtuoso performer of the Islamic world even as the two major world civilizations became lost in the tumultuous birth throes of a new concept of human culture that emerged during the “longest century of the Empire.” Over time, Targan created a unique school in the oud style as he performed and advanced his instruments to meet global standards. He made history as a great artist by training students and passing on his legacy to the present. He impressed the greatest talents of his time with his personal qualities as well as by his skills and depth as a musician. This study does not advance a single “grand theory.” Instead, this paper offers insights into comparable experiences of two global contexts by allowing a superior sociological and theoretical understanding of the ways in which Targan’s musical experience was culturally sustained, contextually produced, and internationally processed.