Turkish Military Songs That Could Almost Belong to Musicals

Atam Atam Mustafa Kemal Paşam | Lyrics and Music: Sim

This is the reason I came up with this list in the first place, from the moment I heard it, it felt like a piece from a musical that could have been about Mustafa Kemal and how he founded the modern Turkish Republic. Don’t get me wrong here, I am against any chauvinistic promotions, I just appreciate all kinds of music and this one is indubitably a great composition. As a great admirer of musical theatre, hearing this simply reminds me of various musical numbers from the Les Misérables, if General Lamarque had his own musical number for instance (except for that one line during the reprise of “Look Down”) it would be something like this.

Ankara Marşı | Lyrics: Aka Gündüz; Music: Halil Bediî Yönetken

I specifically chose this version from director Can Ulkay’s feature film Ayla: The Daughter of War as it clearly shows how well it fits in a theatrical ambiance. In fact, during the scene this was played, there was an additional children’s choir singing the song as well, that’s the closest a Korean war drama can get near a Broadway (or West-End) musical. The song itself is not about war or patriotism however, but about the new (and current) Turkish capital, Ankara and how it was built as a hopeful new city for the people of the new republic. Again, that’s pretty unique given most military songs are meant to put fear into the hearts of the enemy while Ankara March tries to reassure a people about the restoration of their country.

İzmir’in Dağlarında Çiçekler Açar | Lyrics and Music: Anonymous; This Version: Muammer Sun, Gürer Aykal, Hikmet Şimşek, Elnara Kerimova

Similar to Ankara March, Izmir March is also dedicated to a city. The rationale behind that trend lies in the Turkish War of Independence. As the Turkish army recaptured city after city from the invading Greek and Ally forces, people came up with songs to celebrate the advancing Turkish army to their liberated cities. Izmir March is an excellent example of that as it highlights the coming Turkish troops by linking their arrival to the blossoming flowers on the hills of the city, making it one of the few military songs in the history that tells the story of a bloody conflict without being excessively aggressive about either side. Although, admittedly, it does have a Madame Guillotine from The Scarlet Pimpernel vibe, as it is also a song of a revolutionary insurrection that’s trying to reclaim a country.

Other Pieces with similar vibes:

Bayrak Şiiri | Lyrics: Arif Nihat Asya; Music: Lincoln Jaeger
Grande Marche Du Medjidie | Composer: Chevalier August D’adelburg; Producer: Ateş Orga; Conductor: Emre Aracı; Prague Symphony Orchestra

Happy Republic Day to those reading this on October 29.