Composer, calligraphist (B. 1825, Istanbul
– D. 24th November 1897, Istanbul.
His real name was Mehmed Zekâi but he was known as Hoca Zekâi Dede. His father
was İmam Hafız Süleyman Hikmet Efendi. He caught attraction first with his
beautiful voice while he was attending Lâlizâde Abdülkadir Efendi İptiaî
Mektebi (primary school). Just like other members of his family, he combined
his beautiful voice with Islamic education and became a hafiz (T.N. person who
has learned the Koran by heart) at the age of nineteen. He also took thuluth
and naskh courses from Hattat Mustafa İzzet Efendi (T.N. calligraphist) and
received his permission on beautiful inscription. Later, he took music lessons
from Hammamîzade İsmail Dede Efendi and his student Eyyubi Mehmed Bey.
He met Mustafa
Fazıl Pasha, the grandson of Kavalalı Mehmed Ali Pasha and went to Cairo with him (1845). He
became the office administrative of Mustafa Fazıl Pasha and his music tutor in
the palace. During his time in Cairo,
he did researches on Islamic and non-Islamic music and improved his Arabic.
Most of his Islamic songs in Arabic were composed in Cairo. In 1858, he returned to Istanbul with Mustafa
Fazıl Pasha, who was promoted as the vizier. He had served Mustafa Fazıl Pasha
until Mustafa Pasha passed away in 1875. In 1884 he was appointed to
Kudümzenbaşı (T.N. person who conducts the semai rituals) of Bahariye
Mevlevihanesi (T.N. semai monastery). Having completed his suffering ritual, he
became a member of the Mevlevi order and he was bestowed the title “Dede.”. He taught music classes at
Darüşşafaka (T.N. an educational association) and trained many musicians and
artists until he died in 1883.
He was regarded as the greatest composer after Hamamizade İsmail
Dede. Zekâi Dede composed a great
number of murabba, ağır semai, yürük semai, nakış, kâr, kâr-ı nâtık, nakış
ağır semai and nakış yürük semai. He composed melodies which
consisted of long sentences by applying maqam transitions and wide gaps as much
as possible and putting
beats in order very creatively. As he composed only vocal music, most of his
works were published by his son Ahmed Irsoy and his students Suphi Ezgi, Rauf
Yekta, Ali Rifat Çağatay.
ağladığım yâre nümayan olmaz, Peyman-ı dilberane inanmam kefil ile, Severim
gerçi-seni bana vefadâr olasın, Ol gülün gülzar-ı hüsnü bâd-ı mihnet bulmasın,
Ney gibi inlersin ey dil müptelâ hak var gibi, Aşk ilinden âşıkı cam ile canan
döndürür, Ey gonce-i zibay-i gülistan-ı taravet, Ne geçti bir sözüm ol mest-i
nâze, Yâr olmayacak cam-ı safayı çekemez dil, Zahm-ı sinem hançer-i zerkâr
bilmez kim bilir, Yâr alup destine peymane gelür mü bilmem, Gönlüm heves-i
zülfi perişane düşürdüm, Âşık oldum ben yine bir âfet-i mehpeykere, Feryad ki
feryadımı gûş etmez ol sîmîn beden, Naz etme n'ola cihana ol gül, Bihûş olurum
nâz ile reftan görünce, Baktıkça hüsn-ü ânına hayran olur âşıkların, Şarap iç
kızarsın ruhim gülleri, Dil hasretli vaslın ile hâlân gel efendim.