We cannot say precisely when the musical penetration of East and West began, but one thing is certain: composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and others could not resist the fascination of the Orient. Thus elements of Turkish music, Persian poetry and Arabic storytelling found their way straight to the heart of European culture. By Nadja Kayali
The very first great opera is like a story from the Thousand and One Nights. The year is 1670, and the Ottoman ambassador has just arrived in Paris, a city basking in the splendour of the reign of Louis XIV. The Turk is proudly shown around the capital. He, however, remains staunchly unimpressed, and comments that there are more jewels adorning his Sultan’s horse than are in the crown of the French king.