Sunday, July 4, 2010

The National Anthem of Turkey

The "Istiklal Marsi" (The March of Independence) was officially adopted as Turkey's National Anthem on March 12, 1921. 724 poems were submitted to a competition organized to find and select the most suitable original composition, and a poem written by the poet Mehmet Akif Ersoy was adopted unanimously by the Turkish Grand National Assembly. There are ten verses to Ersoy's poem, but only the first two are sung as the national anthem.

Twenty-four composers participated in another competition arranged for the selection of a musical composition for the National Anthem. The Council, which was only able to convene in 1924, due to the War of Independence adopted the music composed by Ali Rifat Çagatay. The words of the National Anthem were sung to this music for eight years. Thereafter, the music of the National Anthem was changed to an arrangement written by Zeki Üngör, conductor of the Presidental Symphonic Orchestra, and the words of the National Anthem have been sung to this musical accompaniment ever since.

Mehmet Âkif Ersoy (1873, Istanbul - 27 December 1936, Istanbul) was a Turkish poet of Uzbek and Albanian origin from Peć, Kosovo, author, academic, member of parliament, and the poet of the Turkish National Anthem.

Widely regarded as one of the premiere literary minds of his time, Ersoy was further noted for his command of the Turkish language, as well as his patriotism and piousness and his support for the Turkish War of Independence. As a gesture of gratitude, a framed version of the national anthem typically occupies the wall above the blackboard in the classrooms of every public as well as most private schools around Turkey, along with a Turkish flag, a photograph of the country's founding father Atatürk, and a copy of Atatürk's famous inspirational speech to the nation's youth. He currently has a university in his name in Burdur. Ersoy's portrait was depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 100 lira banknotes of 1983-1989.

The stamp above features the anthem writer; below the lyrics of the national that he wrote.