Journal of Undergraduate Research


Ahmed Adnan Saygun, cello, composer


Fine Arts and Communications




A few years ago, I happened upon a little-known recording of the cello concerto of 20th-century Turkish composer Ahmed Adnan Saygun (1907-1991), and I immediately knew that I had discovered a gem. From the opening bars, Saygun drew me into his unique soundworld and captured my attention. Since then, my interest in this unduly unknown composer deepened, culminating in this grant-funded project. Saygun is especially interesting as an area of study because of his direct and enduring connections to reform politics and his role in the creation of a new Turkish national identity. His music also provides a rich case study for the encounter and dialogue of East and West. One of my greatest passions is promoting lesser-known 20th-century music and bringing it to a wider audience, and with this project and research paper I have worked to fill a gap in the scholarly literature as well as encourage cellists and listeners to discover Saygun’s three masterpieces for my instrument: the sonata, partita, and concerto.