Composer, oud player, violoncellist (B. January 21st, 1892, Istanbul – D. September 13th, 1967, Istanbul). His father was Ali Haydar Pasha, who was the last Ottoman Empire Emir of Mecca and the second chairman of Meclis-i Ayan (Upper House) and was a minister of Foundations, his mother was Sabiha Hanım. He was the brother of Şerif Abdülmecit Targan, who was the husband of vocal artist Safiye Ayla and was a violinist, violoncellist and pianist. He was the grandson of Muhammad from the thirty seventh generations. He was introduced to music by the weekly music meetings organized at their house. He learned to play oud and piano at a very early age. In 1902, he started to take Violoncello lessons. He completed his primary and secondary education by taking private lessons. In 1908, he enrolled in Istanbul University (Darülfünun) Faculty of Law and one year later he enrolled to Faculty of Literature and he graduated from both of them. In 1916, he went to Hejaz with his father, as his father was appointed as the emir of Mecca and he stayed in Damascus for a while.
After the foundation of the Republic, he went to America (1924-32) and he improved his knowledge on oud and violoncello. In 1928, he gained the appreciation of music critics with his oud and violoncello recital in the famous music hall of New York, Town Hall. Afterwards, his recitals in many cities such as Boston and Detroit were considered as significant artistic events. Comments on his music were published in media organs such as New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, Sunday Telegraph and Musical America. Two years after his return to Turkey, he went to Baghdad (1934) upon the invitation of Iraqi Government to participate in the works for the conservatory that was planned to be founded. Undertaking the administration of this conservatory, which consisted of Eastern and Western music departments, he gave oud and violoncello lectures there. After that, he opened the theater and sculpture departments of this institution, which was transformed into the Fine Arts Academy. It is known that he trained Cemil and Münir Beşir brothers and Selman Şükür, who are mentioned among the most famous oud players of Arab world. He returned to Istanbul in 1948 and was appointed as the chairman of the scientific council of Istanbul Municipality Conservatory upon the resignation of Hüseyin Sadettin Arel from this position, however due to health issues he had to resign from this position in 1951.
Targan, who went beyond the boundaries of Turkish music with the oud and brought the oud to a level on which it could compete with Western instruments, is mentioned as the greatest oud player of twentieth century with his virtuosity and technique in this saz. Aside from his virtuosity Şerif Muhittin became famous with his compositions as well along. His first work was his hüzzam saz semai, which he dedicated to Mehmed Akif Ersoy. Apart from that, he also has original compositions belonging to Saz music such as Kapris, Koşan Çocuk, Kanatlarım Olsaydı, Teemmüller and has also saz semais in dügâh, ferahfeza, hüzzam, uşşak makams. His last work is a suzinak maqam song, which was composed in twenty four hours upon the request of Behçet Kemal Çağlar for a concert of Safiye Ayla and which begins with the verse “Ömrümün son şevki sensin başka bir yâr istemem”, and the lyrics of this song belong to Behçet Kemal Çağlar. His saz works, apart from his saz semais, in which he uses classical melody structure, are studies that were composed for oud that is mainly based on Western music. These studies are accepted in Turkish music as the first works that were composed for a certain saz.
Şerif Muhittin, who knew Arabic, Persian, English and French and had a special interest in hunting, was also a painter who created significant works in portrait and landscape categories. One of Abdülhak Hâmid Târhan’s two portraits, which are among his works, is in Topkapı Palace Museum and the other one is in Istanbul University. The books in his special collection and some of his paintings and his various notes belonging to Turkish and Western music were donated to Süleymaniye Library by Safiye Ayla upon his last will.