Istanbul University awarded an honorary doctoral degree to famous composer Alâeddin Yavaşca

Istanbul University gave an honorary degree to the living legend of Turkish music, Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca.
At a ceremony organized by IU Press and Public Relations at IU Rectorate Building Doctoral Hall on 17th of May, 2018, Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca, who is an IU Istanbul Faculty of Medicine graduate, was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by Istanbul University.
With the attendance of Governor of Istanbul Vasip Şahin, Turkey Youth Foundation Advisory Board Member Bilal Erdogan, Istanbul Province Culture and Tourism Director Coşkun Yilmaz, IU Rector Prof Dr Mahmut Ak and Haliç University Rector Prof Dr Abdurrahman Eren, the ceremony started with the screening of the movie “Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca”, which was prepared by the IU Press and Public Relations.

“Grand contribution to the Turkish music”

To start off the event the director of the IU State Conservatory Prof Dr Aygül Günaltay read the reasons of giving Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca an honorary degree. Prof Dr Aygül Günaltay began her speech by expressing her enthusiasm on behalf of the IU State Conservatory on witnessing such an important moment, then she continued by reading Alâeddin Yavaşca's biography. Prof Dr Aygül Günaltay said: “Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca, whose biography, works and awards summarized here today, has contributed to the repertoire of Turkish music with about 644 compositions in Oral Turkish Music forms, religious music, saz works and children's songs and his role in educations of countless students, academicians, artists in the universities he worked at or founded, and because of these reasons he should receive this honour.”
IU Rector Prof Dr Mahmut Ak, IU Ottoman Period Music Practice and Research Centre (OMAR) Director Gönül Paçacı, Haliç University Conservatory Opera and Concert Department lecturer Prof Dr Saim Akçıl and TRT presenter Mustafa Yolaşan made their speeches.

“Academicians like Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca are beacons of light that illuminate our path”

IU Rector Prof Dr Mahmut Ak began his words by expressing his excitement: “Even though we held a lot of events in this hall, think this one is among the best. Of course what help our nation advance are established institutions. We are members of such an institution and what makes it so is having monumental personnel.” Pointing out that Prof Dr Yavaşca has a carefully carried professional life that occurred through hard work and exists alongside an art life that help him improve and the public with him, IU Rector Prof Dr Mahmut Ak said: “Since his professional life has ended, he has continued his interest and work towards culture and art, this is a symbol of devotion.”
IU Rector Prof Dr Mahmut Ak ended his words by expressing his happiness on giving Prof Dr Yavaşca an honorary degree: “Fortunately, such an opportunity befall on us. I would like to thank Alâeddin Yavaşca, his dear wife Missus Ayten and his devotees. Academicians like Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca are beacons of light that illuminate students’ path and prepare our youth for a better future.” 

“Our music is actually cemented in our communal memory”

​IU OMAR Director Gönül Paçacı stated in her speech that she tried to be with Alâeddin Yavaşca from her young age and continued: “It was a privilege for me to be beside a person who is known by society in this extent. I've always been aware of this. I suppose he also loved me and continued his support until the end. Even since the establishment of our centre, he accepted to be a member of the Advisory Board and also came to the opening ceremony came. Our music is actually cemented in our communal memory. The songs, forums, procedures, authorities of our past are in fact very important reasons that make us a society. Prof Dr Yavaşca, at every stage of his education, has always opened number of ways for us. I am personally a witness to the fact that Prof Dr Yavaşca is an important idea man for this field with his songs, feelings, forms and elements he gained society aesthetically. With his writings, things he defended and faced for the conservatory every one of us took some life lessons from him. With no self-interest, we saw a great artist shoulder the responsibility. So I think we should feel very happy that we are the continuation of such a generation.”

“Ever since childhood I watched him with admiration”

Haliç University Conservatory Opera and Concert Department of Singing lecturer Prof Dr Saim Akçil talked about how his music education started in his speech and expressed the following about Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca: “One day I got the chance to be a colleague in the same conservatory with Alâeddin Yavaşca, whom I listened to with admiration as a child. We are both teachers at the Haliç University Conservatory. Of course this gave me such delight. Ever since childhood I watched him with admiration. Now, as you can guess, giving a speech about the Professor is a great honour for me.” Prof Dr Akçıl ended his speech with a poem he wrote about Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca.

“Not only as a musician, but as a human being he was extraordinary.”

Mustafa Yolasan said that his love for Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca excited him and continued: “Being a presenter in several events including Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca and being invited as a speaker for this event as well gives me great pride. I worked for many years at the Turkish Radio and Television Company, I presented many artists, and I worked with famous people. I always heard that Alâeddin Yavaşca was different. I know big names that would say ‘Alâeddin is different’. As an example, there is Perihan Altındağ Sözeri, Müzeyyen Senar, Hamiyet Yüceses and many more. As a presenter at a very young age I heard these things and witnessed them. In the following years, I had the honour of being alongside him on TV programs. For presenting the 90th anniversary concert, I was chosen. Mr Alâeddin is a disciplined manager, a disciplined commentator, a wonderful composer but he also has many other sides. Not only as a musician, but as a human being he was extraordinary. If there were a Turkish music republic, Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca would be the president of it.”
The honorary degree diploma was given to Ayten Yavaşca on behalf of the Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca, who couldn’t attend the ceremony due to health issues.

After the speeches, the IU Rector Prof Dr Mahmut Ak presented Ayten Yavaşca, who dressed in an academic suit, with an “Honorary Doctorate Diploma”. IU Rector Prof Dr Mahmut Ak attached an Istanbul University badge to Ayten Yavaşca.
“I am very happy to represent the surname Yavaşca”
Wife of the famous composer and state artist Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca, Ayten Yavaşca expressed the emotional state she is in and said: “I am very happy to represent the surname Yavaşca. What a lucky woman I am, right? I am wearing the honorary doctor's robe given to him by the school he graduated. This is a great honour for me and a great prize. I trembled for a moment there thinking how I was going to bear the weight of this. I thank everyone so much. I do not know how else to express this, I am truly grateful. I thank everyone on the behalf of my husband.”
Ceremony ended after the photoshoot. 

About Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca

Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca was born in Kilis on March 1st, 1926. After finishing Istanbul Erkek High school as top of class, Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca graduated from the Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine in 1951. Educating many gynaecologist and publishing 54 scientific papers, Yavaşca worked at Haseki Hospital as head physician until his retirement in 1990, ending his 39 yearlong medical career.
Alâeddin Yavaşca, being the last representative of the Meşk system, had started his music life when he was 8 years old, and worked with; Dr Subhi Ezgi, Zeki Ârif Ataergin, Sâdeddin Kaynak, Münir Nurettin Selçuk and many other important names of the period. Entering the Istanbul Radio in 1950 as a soloist and acting as a choir manager since 1967, Yavaşca has had important roles in Advisory, Supervision and Repertoire Board at TRT and Turkey Radios; he has provided membership services to various education commissions of the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Culture. Yavaşca’s name is among the founders who established the first state conservatory and he has worked as a board member and a teacher at Turkish Music State Conservatory.    
Besides composing 654 pieces, including two Kâr-ı Nâtık, five Takım, one Âyin-i Şerif, Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca has also created 21 collections belonging to nine composers. Having his CDs published by many companies, Yavaşca has made one song for a movie and read five movie soundtracks, he also has around 300 CDs from his local and abroad concerts and radio appearances in his archive, and has six books written about him aside from the one he wrote named “Composition and Composing Formats in Turkish Music”.
At the Classic Turkish Music Men Choir, which was founded and managed by Istanbul Radio, Alâeddin Yavaşca, with Dr Suphi Ezgi and Sadeddin Kaynak, developed the classic music repertoire and produced 47 classic takım, consisting of 40 different makam that are gathered in 39 CDs by Sinan Sipahi.
Yavaşca was awarded honorary doctoral degrees in five distinguished universities, and was awarded as State Artist in 1991. As well as 270 awards he has received in various fields, he has also been awarded the "Presidential Culture and Art Grand Award" in the 2008 music category and the "Grand TBMM award for Excellence in Service" in 2010 for his contributions to the Turkish Music.
Prof Dr Alâeddin Yavaşca continues his life with his wife Ayten Yavaşca, who shares his life and memories, in the street that is named after him in Istanbul; he continues to perform his art apart from his teaching position in Haliç University.
Story by Eda FİDAN
Translated by Ece GÖÇ
IU Press and Public Relations

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