Posted on May 11th, 2010 by

Raheel Mohammed

For the past couple of months I have been collaborating with  Raheel Mohammed  on the music for an exhibition, with virtual and actual manifestations, based around the work of Evliya Celebi , a celebrated 17th Turkish traveller and writer.This project has been organised in collaboration with the British Counci, and has enabled me to engage with the Turkish collaborations which I have built over the past 7 years, working with the British Council in Ankara.

 As an illustration part of the work that we were doing for the  Maslaha Project, I took Tartini’s Tasso, a work most obviously influenced by Ottoman musics that the Istrian born composer would have heard in the Balkans, and ‘melted’ it, allowing more and more ornamentation to creep in on successive readings. Here is the result: Track04

Raheel Mohammed writes: Maslaha is a new, web-based organization, which aims to provide a greater understanding of Islam for Muslims and non-Muslims alike in exciting practical and creative ways.  Maslaha translates from Arabic as “for the common good” and has grown out of many conversations with young Muslims, theologians and community practitioners. 

By drawing together the insights and expertise from leading intellectuals, academics, scholars, young people and service providers, Maslaha aims to provide information about Islam which focuses on the practical matters people face in daily life, addressing questions around issues in the fields of healthcare, education, family life, finance, and civic and democratic engagement. Evliya Celebi’s birth really occurs when he begins to travel and write, spurred on by dreams at pivotal moments in his life. His ten volumes of writing called Seyahatname – Book of Travels – are still being translated, but they provide a unique insight into 17th century Istanbul and the city’s relationship with the wider world including London, Cairo and Vienna. Evliya’s style of writing was unusual and did not fit any particular genre and mirrors a man who was a complex mix of pious Muslim, soldier, musician, raconteur, and writer. The team behind this exhibition is perhaps rightly eclectic:the Khalili Collection, largest private Islamic art collection in the world; Royal Academy of Music; Suki Chan, an award winning film-maker who recently appeared in the BBC’s School of Saatchi;  Mercan Dede, an international sufi musician and DJ; and a number of leading historians including Caroline Finkel, author of the authoritative Osman’s Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire.

Evliya’s accounts vividly show the intricate conversations that occurred between what has been described as the Islamic world and Europe, through the eyes of a Muslim. As Robert Dankoff, author of an Ottoman Mentality: The World of Evliya Celebi writes, that to touch the text is to touch the man.

Blog Introduction: Maslaha is working in partnership with the British Council’s Our Shared Europe project to build an online exhibition all about the constant mix of conversations that have occurred between Islamic people, cultures, societies and Europe.

The theme of the exhibition is TRAVEL – both of individuals and also ideas across time and geographical boundaries. In particular, we will focus on a 17th century Turkish traveller, Evliya Celebi, who wrote extensively of his travels to Europe and North African in his book, Seyahatname – Book of Travels.

This exciting exhibition will bring together Evliya’s account with European accounts both in his time and two hundred years later using films, music, storytelling, unique archive images and much more.

Just to make things even more interesting, we are building a physical exhibition which we will capture digitally to turn into an online entity.


Go to:


I recorded the following material, to reflect Celebi’s experiences in late 17th century Vienna and Italy, as well as the mid-18th Century responses to Turkish Macamler

This now being installed in the  exhibit, which  opens this  Friday 13th May, and goes live shortly afterwards. Please note the two living composers at the bottom of the list-Kolat and Ozmen. These composers were the stars of the British Council workshops which I led with Nigel Clarke in Ankara, so is deeply satisfying to include them in this project.

Material Recorded.  

(Instrumental Music in late 17th century Austria)

 Tracks 4-9: Giovanni Battista Vitali (1632-1692)              Partite sopra diverse Sonate 

Click: Barabano

 Track 10:Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber (1644-1704)           Passacaglia (Mystery Sonata XVI) –“Der Schutzengel als Begleiter des Menschen” (The Guardian Angel as companion of Humankind)  

(The Ottoman influence on instrumental music in Europe)

 Track 1: Giuseppe Tartini  (1692-1770)                           Adagio (from the A minor Solo Sonata)

Track 2:                                                                          Aria ‘Tasso’

Track 3:                                                                          Aria ‘Tasso’ ornamented

 (Plus: Turkey NOW)

 Track 11: Yigit Kolat (1984-)                                            ‘Taksim’ (2007)

Track 12: Onur Özmen  (1981-)                                    “Karincanin Anilar?” (2003)