Ömer Zülfü Livaneli (born June 20, 1946) is a Turkish musician, author, poet, and politician.
Livaneli is known for his novels that interweave diverse social and historical backgrounds, figures, and incidents, such as in Bliss which won the Barnes & Noble's Discovery of Great New Writers Award in 2006, and in his Serenade for Nadia, Leyla's House, and My Brother's Story, which were all translated into 37 languages and won numerous Turkish and International literary awards, and were highly praised by prominent literary critics around the world. His novels have been turned into theatrical movies, stage plays, and operas.
Livaneli was imprisoned several times during the 1971 Turkish coup d'état because of his political views and had to leave Turkey in 1972 and went on exile. He lived in Stockholm, Paris, Athens, and New York where he met and collaborated with artists and intellectuals such as Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, James Baldwin, and Peter Ustinov among others. Livaneli returned to Turkey in 1984.
His works and cultural and political activities and contributions to world peace were recognized by UNESCO in 1995 when he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to UNESCO—a post he still holds today. He served a term in the Turkish Parliament as well as in the Council of Europe.
Livaneli is a writer as he is as a poet and a songwriter, cultural and political activist. Although he first became known for his contemporary music, Livaneli turned his focus to writing, in the last decades, when he realized that literature was closer to his heart.
His first collection of short stories, A Child in Purgatory, published in 1978 was turned into a movie by Swedish and German TV.He is also a prominent social-democrat politician and was a member of the Turkish parliamentfor one term. Livaneli's novels have been turned into theatrical movies, stage plays, and operas.
Livaneli is known for his contemporary music. His 1997 Ankara concert was attended by no less than 500 thousand people. His collaborations with Mikis Theodorakis of Greece have been noted as a gesture of bringing together the two countries. Livaneli has been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador since 1996.
Livaneli has composed some three hundred songs, a rhapsody recorded by London Symphony Orchestra–, and a ballet. His compositions have reached cult status nationwide and have been performed by artists such as Joan Baez, Maria Farantouri, María del Mar Bonet, Udo Lindenberg, Haris Alexiou, Jocelyn B. Smith, and Kate Westbrook. He has also written five plays and thirty film soundtracks.
Among these soundtracks are the soundtrack for "Yol" (The Path), directed by Yilmaz Güney and winner of the Golden Palm in Cannes Film Festival, "The Herd", directed by Yılmaz Güney and Zeki Öktem, and "Shirin's Wedding" by German director Helma Sanders-Brahms. His recordings have been published in the USA, Sweden, Germany, Holland and France, and he has given dozens of concerts throughout the world.
He has produced albums and performed with Mikis Theodorakis and Maria Farantouri, and he has also collaborated with Manos Hatzidakis, Giora Feidman, Inti-Illimani and Ángel Parra.
In 2010, he sang 'Mothers of The Disappeared' with Bono at U2's concert in Istanbul, Turkey, which was U2's first-ever concert in Istanbul. Livaneli has been distinguished with the awards Best Album of the Year (Greece), the Edison Award (Holland), and Best Album of the Year (Music Critics Guild of Germany), and the "Premio Luigi Tenco" Best Songwriter Award, San Remo, Italy, in 1999, among others.
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