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Emir Gamsız (1973)

(Emir Refik Gamsızoğlu)

Pianist, Composer, Writer, Thinker

Director, Cartoon Animator

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Emir Gamsızoğlu has one of the most extraordinary life stories among classical musicians. He started to play the piano at the age of 20 and he was a professional basketball player in the Turkish Basketball League before 20.


He was injured in a game and one day, while he was waiting to heal at home, just by hearing once from his mother (ballet teacher), he succeeded to play Chopin’s Op.64 C# Minor Waltz after a few hours of practice. Having no interest in piano until the age of 20, didn’t stop his decision to change his career to become a pianist. He was the shortest player in all the basketball teams he played and he is probably the latest to start playing the piano among professional musicians.


After a year of private lessons, he became the oldest student, accepted to the piano department of Istanbul University State Conservatory in 1995. The Lions Club gave him “The Young Musician Of The Year” award in 1999. After completing the conservatoire, he went to Paris to study with Seba Baştuğ Şen and Turkish State Artist Hüseyin Sermet.


His life story from sports to music has become a true inspiration for musicians who began their careers later in life.  Gamsız started playing professional concerts during his studies with Sermet in Paris. Since then, he has performed in various European countries, The United States and Turkey. 


Gamsızoğlu played solo and chamber music in France, Germany, Italy, Roumania, Turkey and United States. In 2008 he became the first Turkish pianist to perform J.S.Bach’s Goldberg Variations in Turkey. Beyond his solo career, he’s often invited to play chamber music by well known artists such as Chen Halevi, Natalie Clein, Marina Chiche and Belcea Quartet. He founded Istanbul Trio in 2002 and New Yorker Trio in 2013. In 2007, Gamsızoğlu, premiered his piece “Rhapsody on Istanbul Tunes” with Halevi, Chiche and Clein in Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall, Istanbul.


Apart from his engagements as a pianist, Gamsız is also known for his work that combines music with other fields. He prepared and broadcast a radio show “Notada Yazmayanlar (Unwritten on the Scores),” penned articles for Andante music magazine, created a children’s show that was sold out for 5 years between 2008-2013 and another season long sold-out children’s show in 2019-2020. He still writes articles for “Milliyet,” a national newspaper. 


Gamsız met Pulitzer Prize-wining composer David Del Tredici in The City College of New York where Gamsız taught for two years, and Del Tredici encouraged him to concentrate more on his own compositions. In 2013 Gamsız released his first album "Alla Turca Around the World" (Alla Turca ile Devr-i Alem) that consists of his own works. 


During their 11 years in New York City, Gamsız created interdisciplinary projects with his wife and artistic partner Ege Maltepe, who is an actress, theater director and a playwright. Together they organized Classical Sundays and Schubertiades in West Village’s legendary music venue Caffe Vivaldi, between 2010-17. After meeting Woody Allen in Caffe Vivaldi, the duo ventured into filmmaking. Currently they have three films in production: “Greatest Classic,” “Chekhov in New York” and “Transformism,” written by Maltepe and Gamsız, directed by Gamsız himself. "Scenes from Scores" is a classical music film project written and directed by Gamsız. Their films question the status quo, common human behavior and our responsibility and power in transforming the culture. 


After his concerts in Caffe Vivaldi, Gamsız was known as the Chatty Pianist. His concept concerts under this title continue to attract audiences of all ages and backgrounds. He performed a series of Chatty Pianist concerts in the most important venue in New York City, Lincoln Center, and received a welcoming reaction from the New York classical music audience. In the meantime, Chatty Pianist concerts continued in various festivals in Turkey. After his Caffe Vivaldi and Lincoln Center residencies Gamsız moved his Chatty Pianist concerts into a salon in Murray Hill Manhattan and performed every Saturday night for two seasons in Manhattan Soiree Concerts.


In the summer of 2018 Gamsız and Maltepe returned to their hometown Istanbul and started a cultural institution named Kültür Yapım (Kültür Productions)  and a performance venue named Bach Café. During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, they transformed Bach Café into a digital platform and started Bach Café Digital.


They started a series of cartoon animaton films on “Chatty Pianist” that Gamsız co-wrote with Maltepe. The animation is being crafted by Turkish animator Nalan Alaca and her team. In August 2020, Emir Gamsız accepted the offer of Milliyet Gazetesi (a Turkish national newspaper) to write articles about social issues where he questions these issues through music with a philosophical manner.