Hanim, Leyla (1850–1936)

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Hanim, Leyla (1850–1936)

Turkish composer, pianist, poet, and writer who composed 200 instrumental and vocal compositions and wrote articles on Turkish women. Name variations: Leyla Saz. Born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1850; died in Istanbul on December 6, 1936; daughter of the court doctor to the vizier and governor, Ishmal Pasha; married Shiri Pasha (governor of various provincial capitals and prime minister).

Leyla Hanim was born in 1850 and grew up in the Ottoman court where her father was the court physician. From the age of seven, she studied piano with an Italian pianist. Later, she mastered all details of traditional Turkish music under the tutelage of Medini Aziz Efendiu and Astik Aga. Hanim—who was nicknamed Leyla Saz after the saz, a Turkish stringed instrument which was her passion—played both Turkish and Western music with the palace orchestra. Extremely well-educated, she was fluent in Greek, French, and Arabic. Hanim and her husband lived in a series of provincial towns while he served as governor before moving to Istanbul when he became prime minister. In the capital, Hanim created an artistic circle of women in which Turkish and Western literature and music were cultivated. She composed hundreds of pieces and wrote lyrics for 50 of them. Hanim also contributed many articles about the lives of women to Turkish journals of the period.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia

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Hanim, Leyla (1850–1936)

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