Emir Gamsızoğlu has one of the most extraordinary life stories among classical musicians. He started to play the piano at the age of 20 and he was a professional basketball player in the Turkish Basketball League before 20.
He was injured in a game and one day, while he was waiting to heal at home, just by hearing once from his mother (ballet teacher), he succeeded to play Chopin’s Op.64 C# Minor Waltz after a few hours of practice. Having no interest in piano until the age of 20, didn’t stop his decision to change his career to become a pianist. He was the shortest player in all the basketball teams he played and he is probably the latest to start playing the piano among professional musicians.
After a year of private lessons, he became the oldest student, accepted to the piano department of Istanbul University State Conservatory in 1995. The Lions Club gave him “The Young Musician Of The Year” award in 1999. After completing the conservatoire, he went to Paris to study with Seba Baştuğ Şen and Turkish State Artist Hüseyin Sermet.
Gamsızoğlu played solo and chamber music in France, Germany, Italy, Roumania, Turkey and United States. In 2008 he became the first Turkish pianist to perform J.S.Bach’s Goldberg Variations in Turkey. Beyond his solo career, he’s often invited to play chamber music by well known artists such as Chen Halevi, Natalie Clein, Marina Chiche and Belcea Quartet. He founded Istanbul Trio in 2002 and New Yorker Trio in 2013. In 2007, Gamsızoğlu, premiered his piece “Rhapsody on Istanbul Tunes” with Halevi, Chiche and Clein in Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall, Istanbul.
Apart from his engagements as a pianist, Gamsızoğlu also prepared and broadcasted the radio show named “Notada Yazmayanlar (Unwritten on the Scores)” with actor Memet Ali Alabora, between 2001-2008, penned articles for Andante music magazine in Turkey and had a kids show that was sold-out for 5 years. He also created interdisciplinary projects such as Goldberg Journey (2008); Chopin’s 200th Birthday Party (2010) with Alabora.
After their meeting in The City College of New York, Pulitzer Prize wining composer David Del Tredici encouraged Gamsızoğlu to compose more and in 2013 he released his first album Alla Turca Around the World (Alla Turca ile Devr-i Alem) that consists his own works.
Gamsız and his wife and partner Ege Maltepe who is an actress, theater director and a playwright lived in New York City for 11 years and there they started an organization called Classical for All. Their partnership created several interdisciplinary projects Variations After Joe (2009); Two Faces of Schumann (2009); Drama in Beethoven (2010), Genius by Chopin (2012), Talking to Schubert (2014) are among those Classical for All projects. Together they organized Classical Sundays and Schubertiades in West Village’s legendary music cafe Caffe Vivaldi, between 2010 – 17. After meeting director Woody Allen in Caffe Vivaldi, the duo started filmmaking. Currently they have three films in production; Greatest Classic, Chekhov in New York and Transformism, written by Maltepe and Gamsız, directed by Gamsız himself. Scenes from Scores is a classical music film project written and directed by Gamsız. Their films question the status quo, common human behavior and our responsibility and power in transforming the culture.
After his concerts in Caffe Vivaldi, Gamsız was known as the Chatty Pianist. His concept concerts under this title continues to attract audiences of all ages and backgrounds. He performed How to Bluff About Classical Music with Chatty Pianist, A refugee in Paris: Chopin by Chatty Pianist and Occident Express with Chatty Pianist in Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium in New York. Music and The Boundaries with Chatty Pianist in Antalya Piano Festival, Istanbul – Paris – New York by Chatty Pianist in Beylikdüzü Classical Music Festival in Istanbul. After his Caffe Vivaldi residency Gamsız moved his Chatty Pianist concerts into a salon in Murray Hill Manhattan and performed every Saturday night for two seasons in Manhattan Soiree Concerts.
In summer of 2018 Gamsız and Maltepe returned to their hometown Istanbul and started an cultural institution called Oya Culture (Oya Kültür).