Dossier: Musical Worlds

Bandista in concert at the SO36 in Berlin (photo: Ceyda Nurtsch)

The Turkish music collective Bandista

"Every resistance movement has its own voice"

The music collective Bandista combines ska, dub and ethno sounds with a left-wing political message. With their catchy melodies and rhythms, they have become an essential part of street protests in Turkey. By Ceyda NurtschMore

Shahram Nazeri (source: MEHR)

Iranian musician Shahram Nazeri

The Persian nightingale and the flowers of hope

Shahram Nazeri is the undisputed master of setting Rumi's poetry to music. At a recent concert in Teheran, the renowned musician sang his audience into a state of ecstasy and gave voice to the Iranians' hopes for a brighter cultural future. After several barren years, the cultural scene is indeed showing tentative signs of change. By Massoud SchiraziMore

Yasmine Hamdan (photo: Nadim Asfar)

Interview with Yasmine Hamdan

"I Am a Nomad"

Yasmine Hamdan is a rising star on the alternative electro-pop scene in Lebanon. In her solo debut album "Ya Nass", she has given classical Arabic music a modern twist. An interview by Juliane MetzkerMore

Raid Yosif (photo: private copyright)

Iraqi Pop Music

Raid Yousif – A Superstar in Limbo

After fleeing his native Iraq and settling in Germany, Raid Yousif is devoting himself to developing his music career. Despite setbacks, he's intent on breaking new ground. Eike Rüdebusch reportsMore

Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam & Barbad Project im Rahmen des New Sounds of Iran Festivals 2013; Foto: DW/S. Kasraeian

"New Sounds of Iran"

Busting Geographical and Cultural Boundaries

Traditional Persian classical music enjoys an almost unassailable status in Iran – in contrast to the country's rather disreputable but creative underground scene. The "New Sounds of Iran" Festival shows how the two apparently conflictive genres can be combined. Amin Farnanefar reports on the event and new trends in Iranian musicMore

Akram at the Morgenland Festival in Osnabrück (photo: Morgenland-Festival)

Oriental Music Festival in Germany

The Silenced Sounds of Baghdad

Osnabrück's Morgenland Festival in Germany has been setting standards in the eastern music world since 2005. This year, the event focused on Baghdad, once the cradle of Oriental cultural life. Marian Brehmer reportsMore

Aynur Doğan (photo:

Interview with the Kurdish Singer Aynur Doğan

Resisting the Wind

Aynur Doğan sings in Turkish and Kurdish, the political tone of her songs is deliberately provocative. Her last album "Rewend" focuses on itinerancy and connection to the homeland. Marian Brehmer spoke to herMore

Interview with Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

"I Don't Mix Cultures, I Translate"

In his work, the Belgian-Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui combines elements from different cultures, religions and styles. In this interview with Ceyda Nurtsch, he explains how his Moroccan roots influence his perception of aesthetics and speaks about the role of art in the Arab SpringMore

Davide Martello playing his piano in Taksim Square, Istanbul (photo: Reuters)

The Piano Man of Taksim Square

Playing for Peace

Davide Martello was on a world tour with his custom-built electric piano when he made a spontaneous decision to play Istanbul's Taksim Square. His music became the soundtrack of the Turkish protests. He has since continued his tour with a new message: peaceMore

The four members of the Berlin-based group Cyminology (photo: Kai von Rabenau/ECM Records)

The Music Group Cyminology

A Global Sound, but without the Global Clichés

Persian poetry from the Arabian Nights meets modern, urban jazz – it may sound bizarre, but it works beautifully. The music of Berlin-based band Cyminology manages to be experimental while at the same time dodging the pitfalls of the world music genre. By Suzanne CordsMore

The Pan-Arab Youth Orchestra in concert in Berlin (photo: Kai Bienert/Young Euro Classic)

Pan-Arab Youth Orchestra

Music to Combat Hopelessness

The world's only pan-Arab youth orchestra met in Berlin to make music together. But the young musicians also discussed the situation in their home countries – politics, hopes and fears. Peter Zimmermann reportsMore

Youssra El Hawary and her band members Sedky Sakhr and Shady el Hosseiny (photo: Bashir Wagih)

Interview with Youssra El Hawary

Music of a Quiet Revolution

In the wake of Egypt's Revolution, Youssra El Hawary suddenly came to fame with her song about a wall, "El Soor". Despite her insistence that she is non-political, her music is – in a quiet and unobtrusive way – unique and revolutionary. Marian Brehmer met the artist in BerlinMore

The organisers of the Bliss Festival (from left to right): Salar Aghili, Benedikt Fuhrmann and Ali Abdolazimi (photo:

Images of Iran in the West

Unpicking the Negatives

A German, an exiled Iranian and a Persian singer – at the "Bliss Festival", the clichés are roundly challenged and turned on their heads. If we look beyond the stereotypical images of Iran, we find a culture that has the power to touch our hearts. By Marian BrehmerMore

Officials sweeping up CDs and DVDs in Iran (photo: MEHR)

Musicians in Iran

An Uphill Struggle All the Way

With heavy censorship and no copyright laws, being a musician in Iran is a thankless job. Bamdad Esmaili spoke to a number of Iranian musicians about the manifold challenges they faceMore

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (center) attended a performance of his own opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail while visiting Berlin in 1789 (photo: Wikipedia)

Islam in European Classical Music


As-salam alaykum Resounding from the Minaret

We cannot say precisely when the musical penetration of East and West began, but one thing is certain: composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and others could not resist the fascination of the Orient. Thus elements of Turkish music, Persian poetry and Arabic storytelling found their way straight to the heart of European culture. By Nadja KayaliMore

The Turkish pianist Fazil Say (photo: dpa/picture-alliance)

Turkish Pianist Fazil Say Sentenced for Insulting Islam

Playing the Wrong Tune

World-renowned concert pianist Fazil Say was given a suspended jail sentence in Turkey for insulting religious values on Twitter, a case which has become a cause celebre for Turks alarmed about creeping Islamic conservatism. By Tim NeshitovMore