Istanbul: Songs of the city | Al Jazeera World

When Istanbul was at the heart of the Ottoman Empire, it was one of the most ethnically diverse cities in history. After the founding of Turkey in the early 20th century, however, most of the city’s minorities slowly disappeared.  But all these groups had already left their indelible cultural mark on the city, not least on its music.

Ethnic Greeks, for example, descended from the Byzantine Christians (known as Rûm under Ottoman rule) left during the 1923 population exchange and 1955 riots – but not before Rebetiko, a kind of Greek blues, had become hugely popular. The Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors had fled fifteenth century Spain, gradually emigrated to Israel – but had kept the popular Ladino language and music alive, with their Andalusian, Gypsy, Balkan and Middle Eastern melodies and rhythms.

We meet the people working to ensure these and other diverse musical traditions do not disappear forever.

2014 Al Jazeera Turk/ 2019 Al Jazeera English (Al Jazeera World strand)

48 mins