Come Here, Let’s Drink!: Kef Music from Ottoman Istanbul’s Multicultural Nightclubs

In contemporary Istanbul, it can be quite difficult to find evidence of the city’s cosmopolitan past. While the vast majority of the city’s inhabitants today identify as Muslim, in the early 20th century the city’s population was majority non-Muslim. Among the many communities that formed part of Istanbul’s elaborate multi-religious and multi-cultural mosaic were large numbers of Ottoman Greeks, Armenians, and Jews who had been an indelible part of life in Istanbul – and across the Empire – for as long as the city had existed. Luckily, the prolific recording industry of the city and its diaspora offers another glimpse of how Istanbul once sounded through the traces of its musical legacy.
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