Composer, performer (B. 1899, Istanbul – D. April 27th , 1981, Istanbul). He was the son of Nurettin Avni Bey, who was a French teacher at Istanbul University, Faculty of Theology, Department of Persian Literature and Kadıköy High School, and he was the father of Timur Selçuk, who is a composer and musician. Her mother Hanife Hanım was descended from Abdurrahman Pasha’s family that was one of the old families of Kütahya. Because her mother’s descent was traced through Seljuks and Germiyanids, he took the surname “Selçuk”. He took his primary education at Bayezit Primary School and went to Kadıköy High School after having graduated from Soğukçeşme Military Middle School.
When the beauty of his voice was noticed when he was just eleven years old, Münir Nurettin went to Darülfeyzi Music School of Ethem Bey in Kadıköy, who was a student of Hasan Efendi of Yeniköy, and after three years, he gave his first concert with this committee. When he was a student in Kadıköy High School in 1917 he went to Hungary to study agriculture as his family insisted on it, however, he came back to Turkey before completing his education and focused on music studies. Such that, “I did not think of choosing a different profession in my life. Think about it, they sent me to Hungary to make me receive agriculture education. When I was there I could not study a page because of Turkish music” he said at an interview that was made with him years later.
Münir Nurettin Selçuk had an excellent exam during the presidency of Ziya Pasha and got into Darülelhan (Istanbul Municipal Conservatory), which only provided Turkish music education at that time. Refik Fersan, who was among the jury for this exam; it was accepted that the works, which Ahmet Irsoy, the son of Hammamizade Ismail Dede Efendi’s student Zekai Dede, had learned from his father, were faultless and perfect. He joined Muzika-ı Humayun (T. N. the Presidential Symphony Orchestra) on October 29th, 1923 and when the republic was proclaimed he was sent to Ankara and joined Riyaset-I Cumhur İncesaz Heyeti (T. N. the Musical Committee of Presidency), and he resigned from this duty voluntarily in 1926 and settled in Istanbul.
Selçuk was one of a few leading artists of the twenty first century Turkish music. In the history of Turkish music, which can be traced back by concerts, gramophone records and radio broadcasts, there is not any singer that has been as much effective as he had been. Such that, the singing styles of this century can be considered as before Münir Nurettin or after him. His most important contribution to performance was cleaning the style that was mostly peculiar to “hafiz”, to a large extent, and bringing a simpler, “smoother” style of singing. He used this pharyngeal technique peculiar to the old tradition with a new approach, pleasure and technique by showing a great mastery.
Münir Nurettin, who recorded discs, went to Paris in 1927, took piano and solfege lessons from the famous teachers of Paris Conservatory and gave a solo concert in the Theatre of France with a program that could not have been performed until then. This concert made a tremendous impact on art societies and on the press, everybody started to know him as “Münir Nurettin Ecole”.
After Münir Nurettin returned to Turkey, he made his voice technique, which he developed in Paris in particular, perfect by gradually developing its style. High and low tones of voices were used very well in his interpretation. In his interpretation, transition between the chest and head voices was made skillfully, without being noticed. He also showed the color and timbre of his voice very well by arranging the motion of breathing as required by the melodic sentences. As an artist knowing both the structure of the Ottoman Turkish music and the old way of performing well, he brought all these novelties without departing from the essential of this music; he integrated the new with the old.
Münir Selçuk was a music master that had a fabulously large repertoire. He learnt the authentic or the original forms of the works in his repertoire and even by “saving” a part of them he notated the works. He was an interpreter that was able to sing the works in almost every composition forms. He sang many works in his concerts and recordings that were nonreligious compositions such as kar, karçe, murabba beste, nakış, ağır semai, yürük semai, şarkı, türkü, koşma, ghazal and religious compositions such as Mevlevi ayini, durak, tevşih, ilahi. He interpreted classical works, which were different from each other as required by the composition forms, with an exceptionally superior style, attitude and manner. For example, many Gazelhans (ghazal singer) before him sang ghazal as if they were singing mevlid and could not break free the influence of religious music. However, Münir Nurettin Selçuk made himself accepted as a performer that united ghazal with a nonreligious style and interpreted mevlid differently.
In his article named “Ses Musikimiz”, Münir Nurettin Selçuk wrote “When I started to learn music at a very early age, one of the important things that I have heard from my teachers and always remembered is that; Turkish music is the music of singer and it is necessary to learn this from the master of it” and he added “the important works in our Turkish music should be sung by male singers because of the timbre and manner of their voice. The works in our classical music were created based on the talent of male voices. For this reason, in other words due to the kindness and tone in their voice, I believe it is more suitable for our female artists to sing lighter works such as semais, türküs.”
Münir Nurettin Selçuk composed the poems of famous poets such as Mevlana, Fuzuli, Nedim, Ahmet Pasha, Şeyh Galip, Ziya Pasha, Süleyman Nazif, Tevfik Fikret, Vecdi Bingöl, Yahya Kemal Beyatlı, Faruk Nafiz Çamlıbel, Behçet Kemal Çağlar, Necdet Atılgan, Munis Faik Ozansoy, Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı, Ümit Yaşar Oğuzcan, İsmet Bozdağ, Refik Ahmet Sevengi. Furthermore, he had given many concerts abroad.
Alâeddin Yavaşça, who is a Turkish music voice artist, was among the people that took lessons privately from Münir Nurettin Selçuk, who contributed to the training of many young generation artists.