Lord of the Horizons,
Collector of Musical Worlds
Alî Ufkî / Wojciech Bobowski (Poland, ca. 1610 - 1675 Turkey)
The new program with
Polish & Turkish musicians
Sarband with the new artists
Maria Skiba, voice
Michal Gondko, lute
Wojciech Bobowski was born around 1610 in Lwów / Lemberg in what was then Poland.
As a young man, he was taken
prisonerby Crimean Tatars, brought to the court of Sultan Murad IV. in Istanbul where he received a full training as a
palace page. He converted to Islam and stayed in the Sultans' seraglio for about twenty years as an interpreter, musician
and music instructor. Later, he worked as a dragoman for various European ambassadors as well as for the Sublime Porte.
In Istanbul, Bobowski took the name of Alî Ufkî. «Ufkî» possibly derives from the Ottoman word for horizon,
and this name became the program of his life:
Bobowski-Ufkî was the first to translate the Bible and the Anglican catechism into Turkish,
published the arguably most
reliable description of the Sultans' seraglio and the most vivid introduction to Islam, left two large manuscript collections
of Turkish music, composed some of the most moving Muslim hymns and translated some of the melodies of the
Huguenot Psalters into Turkish.
The Ottoman Sultans saw themselves as the «Lords of the Horizons», in whose realm the sun did not set.
Wojciech Bobowski /Alî Ufkî became the true lord of the cultural horizons, having mastered more than a dozen languages
as well as both Turkish and European music and moving between two of the world religions. His universal erudition and
creativity are incomprehensible today; he was born a Pole and died after a long and uniquely prolific life as a citizen of
the world and a collector of worlds. The 17th century, time of the great religious wars ,led him to a commitment to faith,
which did not rest on one religion, one culture only.
He evades any decisive attribution: not (only) Pole, not (only) Turk, not (only) Christian, not (only) Muslim.
Consequently Wojciech Bobowski / Alî Ufkî takes on great significance for our own present and future,
which cannot be determined by religious or national affiliation and 'migration background',
but only by a commitment to humanity.
«After the ensemble finished its appearance, the room was silent with delight.
The audience froze in complete tranquility, only to exclaim ovations after some time.
A very good start of the festival.» mmwroclaw.pl, 19.08.2013