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  • Writer's pictureJulia Sumzina

Dogaç Bezdüz: "Even when I was playing, I admired all art around..."

In December we attended the performance of Doğaç Bezdüz in the Hermitage Museum (Saint Petersburg) at the PIANISSIMO winter festival. Young musician was born in Mersin, Turkey. He started his piano education at the Mersin University State Conservatory (class of Marina Jincharadze), 2013-2015 Period he studied Ankara High School of music and Performing Arts at Bilkent University (Prof. Gülnara Aziz’s piano class), then he continued his studies in Ludmil Angelov’s piano class in Bulgaria.

Doğaç has been actively participating solo and chamber performances in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Russia. After his recital in the Hermitage we talked with him about his way, impressions and dreams.

In Photo: Denis Denisov

Doğaç, let’s start with the very beginning. Your family is connected with music, tell us a little about it…

I was born into a family of musicians, so inescapably my love for music started at a very early age! Looking back, growing up in such a family and an artistic entourage had an enormous impact on me. All the members in my family had and still have a great influence on my approach to music. My mother, Reyhan Bezdüz is the conductor of the Mersin State Opera and Ballet’s Children’s Choir. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to sing in her choir and later on to accompany them with my piano. Both proved to be valuable experiences. My interest in conducting must originate from these early encounters. My mother was aware of this interest and always told me how important it was to play several instruments and to comprehend the other musicians in an orchestra. At one point I played the oboe which gave me some insight into wind instruments. Thanks to my violinist elder sister, I got to memorise all her repertoire! My father Bülent Bezdüz, who is a tenor, taught me all about opera and its theatrical aspects. Thus, my repertoire includes quite a few opera pieces like Rossini or Granados or the piano transcriptions of arias and other passages by major composers like Liszt.

Naturally, my “penchant” for these has to do with my father’s profession. Similarly, his advice to both me and my sister Sesim Bezdüz about using our instruments as if they were our own voices or to play as though we were singing are truly precious.

Photo: Denis Denisov

You chose the piano, how did it happen?

Again, it has to do with me coming from a family of musicians and the fact that we had an electronic piano at home. I remember toying with it when I was really small and listening to classical music before going to sleep, especially my favourite piano concertos and pieces. I fancied that one day I would be playing all those music myself.

My sister also started playing piano first but switched to violin later. She’s been a great inspiration from the beginning to the extent that I actually started my musical education on the violin at age 6 regardless of my fascination with piano and only got to switch to piano after a year of learning the violin!

Do you play other instruments?

As I mentioned earlier, I started on the violin but don’t remember much. I played oboe for 3 years and still might manage to play some. I study conducting, though needless to say that piano comes before everything else.

Your repertoire is quite wide and includes various pieces from the epoch of classicism and romanticism to tango. What music style do you prefer to perform?

That’s a tough question! Every piece I play contributes in its own way. It is very difficult to compare them as they all make me feel differently. And of course, I am still learning. All I can say at this point is that I aspire to be as versatile as I can, without compromising the quality of my music, hence the importance of a wide repertoire. The words of my dear teacher Ludmil Angelov resonate with me. He always says “don’t wait until your work ends on one piece before you tackle a new one, they all offer something different to learn from.” And I must give him credit, I do notice it is true. For instance, the freedom that I feel when playing tango is anything but the rigid form of classical music. You’re not bound to play just as it is written in the score and it is as flexible as jazz music. Whereas in classical compositions, you take the composer’s directions for granted. You must absolutely stick to the score. So, it is very hard for me to compare or make a choice. I indulge in all of them!

Photo: Denis Denisov

Last month you have participated in Pianissimo Winter Festival and performed in The State Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. Can you describe your impressions?

I’ve always had a fascination with Russian culture and especially the Russian musical school to the extent that there are times when I wish I was born and raised and could study in the same musical circles as the world’s greatest pianists. I have much admiration for the earlier great generation of Russian pianists as well as our contemporaries. I have been following the Pianissimo Festival for a while and have already listened to almost all of the young pianists who gave recital online. I would never have thought that one day I would be one of them! I was thrilled at the idea of getting ready to the occasion, particularly knowing the uniqueness of the place. So, it is truly hard to find words to describe the happiness I felt at the moment when I got the invitation. Of course, I immediately felt a great responsibility as well! It would be the singlemost special place I’d ever been, let alone give a concert! It was my debut in Russia and seeing the Hermitage from so close was just amazing. Even when I was playing, I admired all the paintings and the beautiful architecture around us. So, I am not exaggerating when I say words are not enough to describe my emotions. Mr. Gorodnev and his entire festival team were very professional and one could see how much respect they had for the task. One of the most important factors in an artist’s performance, is how much he or she is valued and taken care of from day one till the very end. I was lucky to be taken excellent care of by a passionate and dedicated Pianissimo team from the moment I landed to Saint Petersburg to the moment of farewell. But above all, what made me happiest was this peerless opportunity that they provided to young musicians like me. There are very few people who do that. I can’t wait to be back!

Photo: Sila Avvakum

How did you choose the pieces for the concert? What affected your choice?

It wasn’t solely my selection. I got much help from my teacher Professor Ludmil Angelov. As we all know, Bach is considered as the father of all composers. He has done considerable work on Busoni and many others’ compositions and the result and transcriptions are exceptional. They are all very trying pieces but also formative. A good example would be the Choral Prelude in my recital programme. Schumann’s Sonata, as a pioneer of the Early Romantic Period is at the core of the programme and it is also its keystone.And naturally, performing in Russia, I wanted to present a Russian piece, so I chose Dumka, a favourite from Tchaikovsky which I always wanted to play. Lyapunov is lesser known or played amongst the Russian composers. His Transcendental Etude, Lezghinka is somewhat longer than his likes and in my view, it is an extraordinary work, so I wanted to include it in the programme. This etude always reminds me Islamey from another composer Balakirev. And last but not the least Rachmaninoff’s famous Piano Sonata No.2 seemed like a must. My teacher insisted that I play it and although I myself did not have it in mind, it is a masterpiece that I cherish a lot.

Photo: Denis Denisov

What plans do you have for future?

In these days of hardship, it is difficult to make plans or to talk about the future. To gain more experience. To further improve. To participate in competitions, to be on stage all around the world, to play in front of various audiences and to reach out to as many people as I can with my music.

What can you wish to yourself and the audience for the New Year?

First and foremost, I wish everyone a healthy, happy new year with their loved ones. I also wish we can all accomplish whatever it is that we aspire to or dream of.

I hope we can all meet again, us musicians with our audience and that music be with us all year long.

On a personal note, I wish 2022 to be a fruitful year in terms of learning more new music and most importantly to be able to perform all that I will have learned.

And lastly, my secret wish is to be welcomed as warmly as I’ve been welcomed in Russia wherever I go and to meet with an audience just as appreciating and encouraging as in the Hermitage!

Interview and illustration: Julia Sumzina

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