Ibrahim özgür was born in Istanbul in 1905 and his father Mustafa played the horn in the state orchestra. When Ibrahim was 16 he went to Ankara, in order to study clarinet and saxophone in the Military Academy. After he’d finished studying he went back to playing in night clubs in Istanbul. He founded his own orchestra and became famous for his talented arrangements. In 1931 he began the adventure of his life: He went on a 7 year concert tour to the Far East. This tour began in Beirut and took him to India, Java, Sumatra, Singapore and Ceylon. Özgür returned to Istanbul via England, where he then opened his own club “Ates Böcekleri”, the “Glow-worm”.
His first recording dates back to 1938. He wrote many tango songs and had an evident talent for nostalgia. His velvety voice was predestined for romantic tangos. The famous “Mavi Kelebek” (Blue Butterfly) was the most popular tango of his career and had general appeal, especially for his female followers. And also Neden.
The first man to win such an audience was Ibrahim Özgür: “My inner life is in no way like my professional life. However modern my professional life may be, my inner life is very conservative. Presumably this is to do with my up bringing”.
In the late 20s and 30s Tango was very popular in Turkey. For many composers and singers it was the first contact they had with “western” music. With the help of Armenian and Jewish musicians Tango established itself very quickly. At the time Istanbul was a cosmopolitan city with many foreigners and elegant audiences enjoying themselves in countless night clubs. The first Tango were performed by female soloists.
“I wrote many of my tangos in order to feel I had the right to be the recipient of all the love letters I ever received.”
Unhappy love, the pain of parting and of longing – these are the three emotional pillars of real the tango… Özgür drew inspiration from his unrequited love for an Indian princess. In later years he never ceased to think about returning to her. On the day before he died Özgür said: “I’m 49 years old. Two thirds of my life are over. As a musician I am in my 30th. year. A long time ago I gave a concert in Southern Asia. Ah, how I’d love to go abroad!”
In his country house near Istanbul where he kept horses, dogs, birds and even a bear, Özgür died of a heart attack. It was the evening of 11th. February 1959.
His voice however remains immortal.