In memory of Panayot Abacı

In memory of Panayot Abacı

Just after arriving at Bodrum Airport to attend the opening of an exhibition, my phone rang. The caller was Fuat Çelebioğlu. He told me, “Panayot Abacı has died.” Next, Kemal Anadol called. 

You can read the life story of the musician, writer and translator on daily Hürriyet’s art page. 

For some people, huge work is hidden beyond their short biographies. 

Abacı was an intellectual; he had all the positive characteristics of a “new republic” intellectual ranging from music to literature. One of the features of his generation was that their fields of interests were wide; they were aware of each other’s work. They worked for people who were not able to get certain opportunities; some were founders in their fields. Abacı met the writers of his generation and was interested also in the paintings of painters. I saw him at the Nuri İyem award ceremony for the last time. His attendance at that ceremony was a sign of his commitment to his generation, the sharing of the same view of the world. 

His book translations covered a wide spectrum from Yaşar Kemal to Aziz Nesin; they should not be seen just as literary pieces. His role in the founding and developing of friendly relationships between Turkey and Greece will be accepted by those who remember those times. 

He was a good musician and a good music critic. 

His critiques in his evaluations reflected the truth of a performer. The Philharmonic Association he has been heading for years has contributed to the spreading of Western music and increasing the number of its listeners. 

Before the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) was founded and before the Istanbul Music Festival started, we were able to listen to distinguished soloists and groups from around the world thanks to this association. Concerts at the Saray Movie Theater are still fresh in my memory. 

Despite all the difficulties, he made that association survive. Good musicians played at chamber music concerts at Galatasaray University; music-lovers never stopped attending. 

I have always followed his music works. He worked as the representative of the Philharmonic Association during the time when Aydın Gün was İKSV general manager. 

I visited him in his work environments. I paid visits to the Cihangir and – with its former name – Yeni Melek Street offices as well as other offices. He would work alone; he was able to accomplish business dozens of people would have a hard time accomplishing. He never gave up his characteristic of being a Don Quixote. 

He published the “Orkestra” magazine for more than half a century. Those who print magazines in Turkey would know how that is such a tiresome job. Distribution is the biggest problem. And if it is a classical music magazine you are publishing, then the level of hardship increases.

Despite all the hardships, he was able to publish Orkestra nonstop. On top of all this, he organized more the 20 concerts every year. 

What needs to be done right now is for some researchers to ask “What kind of magazine was Orkestra? How did it contribute to Western music in Turkey?” and prepare a study, a publication that would honor Abacı’s well-deserved reputation. 

Because it was beyond a music magazine covering daily events and stories, it reflected the listener profile and the music environment of the time. Orkestra is research material in itself. 

We will always remember his works, his labor, his efforts, his friendship… He will live in our memories from now on…