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Yorgo Bacanos (1900-1977) was a Turkish musician of Greek-Gypsy descentRead More...
Bacanos was born in Silivri, a small town near Istanbul, on the 21st September 1900. He was from a Greek-Gypsy family among whose members were musicians such as Aleko Baconos, his elder brother, Anastas, his uncle. Sotiri and Paraşko, his cousins, all well-known kemençe players of their time. Leondi Efendi and Ligori Efendi, his grandfathers, and Haralambos Efendi his father, too, were practising musicians, who played kemençe, kanun, and lavta (Turkish version of European lute), respectively. Showing great zeal tor music at a very young age. Yorgo could not complete secondary education and deserted school when he was a student in a French high school and started to learn music by taking lessons first from his father, and subsequently from Armenian musicians. At the age of twelve he made his debut in music as a performer İn fasıl concerts given in night clubs. He became a well-known ud player within a few years.
Baconos performed music in the Istanbul Radio tor fifty years, from 1927 to 1977. From 1953 to the mid 1960s he was also member of Turkish Musical Ensemble of Istanbul Conservatory conducted by Münir Nurettin Selçuk. Bacanos gave recitals and took part in concerts wicb famous musicians like Hafız Kemal, Sadettin Kaynak, Sadi Işılay, Aleko Bacanos and Deniz Kızı Eftalya in Germany, France, Egypt, and Cyprus. His performance in Egypt was greatiy appreciated by Ümmü Gülsüm, and Muhammed el-Kasapçı, who accompanied her with his ud.
Bacanos was one of the best ud players that thp Turkish musical world had ever seen. His performance was appreciated not only in Turkey but also in the Middie-Eastern countries and Greece. The sound he produced on the ud was unique in its sonority and impresiveness. He often used the area close to the bridge to be able to produce louder sounds. He had a very peculiar and advanced right and left hand technique. However agılely he played the ud he never lost musical perfection, never failed to produce the precise intonation.
Yorgo Bacanos was a sought-after instrumentalist for almost all the musical ensembles in Istanbul; for ensembles performing exclusively classical compositions, for fasıl ensembles, instrumental music, and as an accompanist to a soloist. Wherever he played he would make his performance conspicuous and became the driving force of the ensemble by adding melodic and rhythmic variety to the performance. This aspect of Bacanos performance bears musical merits which should be evaluated on their own. For instance, if no musical instrument like the çello, which produces lower sounds. was used in a chorus singing classical compositions, Bacanos used the lower octaves to contribute to new perspectives and create a sense of profundity. When he played in a fasıl ensemble he added great variety to the interludes (ara nağmesi) performed beıween the songs and sometimes filled in the gaps with momentary inspirations and produced alternatives to the aiready composed inturludes through improvisations. When he played dance pieces he used the plectrum like a lavta player did and created rhythmic varieties and kept on performing the melodies in their new rhythmic flow. This kind of creative performance whıch was fuli of İnspirations was peculiar to Yorgo, who was an artist whose rhythmic reception was exceedingly strong and deep.
Undoubtediy, Yorgo was also one of the masters of the taksim, instrumental improvisation. His instrumental improvisation, above ali, displayed an elevated artistle taste. As he İmprovised, melodies followed one another without interruption, which made one feel chat the performer was an İmproviser par excellence, or to use a better expression, a "composer of improvisations". His taksims are vivid and lively. He could exhibit not only ali the intonations and colours that one might expect from the representation of a given makam but also embellish the makam scale with inspirations and particulariy with various rhythmic elements peculiar to his style. Some of his caksıms are worth notating, in the following pages you will find the notation of his taksim on the makam rast, which was transcribed by Mutlu Torun, a Turkish ud player who greatiy appreciates Yorgo.
Due to all these musical merits, Yorgo Bacanos has created a distinctive style on the ud. His original st/le is immediately distinguished from chat of others. Just a few notes or bars are enough tor one to identify his performance. Among the ud players in Turkey there is probabiy no important instrumentalist who has not been deeply impressed by Yorgo.