Meet Korkmaz Can Saglam: This Year’s Recipient of Ahmet Ertegun Memorial Scholarship!

Korkmaz Can Saglam
Korkmaz Can Saglam

Korkmaz Can Sağlam (BM ’22, Piano) began studying piano at the age of six and gave his first recital at the age of eleven. After being accepted to Bilkent University, Music and Ballet Primary School at the age of seven, he started working with Ms. Gamze Kırtıl. He received scholarships from Sevda Cenap and Music Foundation and private sponsors. In 2018, he was accepted as a scholar of the “Young Musicians on World Stages” project created and mentored by Güher & Süher Pekinel with the financial support of Tüpraş.

Throughout the years, Can has played in masterclasses of artists including Pavel Gililov, Boris Berman, Ilya Itin, Michel Beroff and Jean-Francois Heisser. He also performed in festivals such as the Gümüşlük Classical Music Festival, Antalya Piano Festival, and Bellapais Music Festival. He has performed throughout Turkey; in Europe, he has appeared in concerts in France, Belgium, and Italy. He is also active in chamber music s, performing with his quintet at the Bilkent Chamber Music Days and several other venues. After studying with Ms. Gamze Kırtıl at the Bilkent University Music and Performing Arts High School, he studied with Antonio Pompa-Baldi and Sergei Babayan at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Korkmaz Can Sağlam continues his studies with Sergei Babayan in The Juilliard School.


Established by The American Turkish Society in 2007 in memory of Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records and long-time chairman of The Society, the Ahmet Ertegun Memorial Scholarship supports talented musicians of Turkish descent in their studies at The Juilliard School in New York City. The scholarship continues Mr. Ertegun’s legacy of promoting talented artists while contributing to greater cultural understanding between the United States and Turkey.

Click here to view Can’s interview

  1. How did you hear about the Ahmet Ertegun Scholarship at Juilliard?
    I actually heard about the scholarship before I applied to Juilliard! I was looking for scholarships available for Turkish students studying in the United States, and I remember I was so excited when I found out about the Ahmet Ertegun Scholarship that I emailed both the school and The American Turkish Society to learn about the application process. I was very impressed by reading about past scholars who were such successful people in their field, and I am honored to be a part of this group.
  2. Tell us a little about your experience so far. How has studying at Juilliard been, especially this academic year?
    I conducted most of my studies online this year, and I am very pleased about the way Juilliard handled the situation. Our professors have been very supportive, and they tried their best to maintain the highest level of education possible. Although it has been a tough year for everyone, it was inspiring to see the effort people put into being productive. My piano lessons were especially challenging since most of our work was on sound production! Since the sound quality on Zoom was not good enough, we recorded our pieces and talked about them during the lesson instead. In the end, although I was able to have more practice time and expand my repertoire, I am glad we are switching to in-person lessons soon.
  3. How has your experience as an Ahmet Ertegun Scholar impacted your work as a musician/artist?
    There is actually a story about this scholarship that goes back to my father who is a guitarist. He told me that it was his dream to come to the United States as a young musician and meet with Mr. Ertegun. While he was unable to come to the States, I in a way achieved his dream by continuing my studies with the help of this scholarship. Receiving this scholarship certainly has been a reminder of the achievements of Turkish people in the music field, and it will continue to be a source of inspiration for me.
  4. What is a piece or project that you worked on at Juilliard that you are most proud of?
    One of the most important and enjoyable things you can do as a musician is chamber music. It has been incredibly rewarding to collaborate with other musicians at Juilliard since the level of dedication to music is so high! When each member in the group is passionate about making music together, the energy you feel on the stage and the connection you form with the audience greatly inspire you. As more and more concerts are starting to happen, I am very much looking forward to collaborating with more people and taking the stage.
  5. What’s in the future for you?
    As I am getting closer to the end of my undergraduate studies, I realized I want to get out of school and build more and more connections. New York has so much to offer to a musician, and it would be a shame to leave the city without collaborating with many people and performing in a variety of places. That being said, I will be auditioning for my master’s degree this year, and hopefully, I will study with my great professor Sergei Babayan for two more years. I am very proud to soon be a graduate of The Juilliard School, and I am grateful for the vision of Mr. Ertegun and The American Turkish Society.