Münir Nurettin Beken is one of the founding members of the State Turkish Music Ensemble. His technique, musicality, and mastery of a variety of both old and modern styles have made him the leading ud player of his generation. Beken's recordings are widely circulated and emulated by udstudents.
Münir Nurettin Beken, ud virtuoso, began his musical life in 1975 at age 11 at the State Conservatory of Istanbul as a student of Mutlu Torun, a famous pedagogue and author of an extensive work on the ud method. In 1985, while still at the conservatory, Beken represented Turkey at the International Bydgoscz Music Festival in Poland. After graduating with honors in 1986, he conducted the Conservatory Orchestra for three years, during which time he recorded numerous television programs for TRT, the Turkish state radio and television network. As conductor and performer with the Istanbul Studio Orchestra, he recorded many of his own compositions. His ballet suite, Dino and Ceren, was commissioned and performed by the Istanbul State Opera and Ballet, and many of his other compositions were performed in Turkey and abroad. In 1988 he earned his master's degree in music from the Technical University of Istanbul.
Beken was among the founding members of the State Turkish Music Ensemble in 1988, as well as music director and composer for a variety of television series appearing on TRT. He has also prepared music for a number of movies, for which he has won several awards.
In 1989 Beken came to the University of Maryland for doctoral studies, earning a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology in 1998. Beken has given tanbur and ud recitals in the Walters Art Gallery and Strathmore Hall Arts Center (MD), The Smithsonian Institution and the Textile Museum (Washington, D.C.), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Herbst Theatre (San Francisco), among others. He has also performed for Voice of America. In 1992, he was the first instrumentalist to perform a solo recital of Turkish traditional music in the Istanbul International Festival. In 1994, he won the Maryland State Arts Council's individual artist award and became the executive director of the Center for Turkish Music at the University of Maryland.
Beken's compact disc recording of solo performances, The Art of the Turkish Ud, is available on Rounder Records.