A composer, vocalist, novelist, and film director, Zulfu Lyvanely (born Omer Zulfu Lyvanelyoalu) is one of Turkey's most celebrated performers. In addition to being featured on nearly twenty albums, Lyvanely's songs have been covered by an international array of artists including Joan Baez (U.S.), Maria Del Mar Bonet (Spain), Udo Lindenberg (Germany), Maria Farandouri, Haris Aleksiyu, and Protopsalti (Greece), Kate Westbrook (U.K.), and Liesbeth List (Holland). In November 1998, the London Symphony Orchestra recorded an album of his songs, New Age Rhapsody: London Symphony Orchestra Plays Lyvanely. While Arif Mardin, senior vice president/producer of Atlantic Records, described his music as "magnificent melodies, evocative moods and orchestra colors," Greek vocalist/composer Mikis Theodorakis said, "(Lyvanely) takes the soul of Turkish music and mixes it with his personality."
Lyvanely first attracted international attention for his political activism. Charged on a variety of counts, in 1971 he was held in a military detention ward for three months. His debut album, Chants Revolutionnaires Turcs, released in 1973, was marked by his politically-charged lyricism. Lyvanely has continued to balance his career as a musician with political involvement. In 1976, he successfully served as mediator in a prison hunger strike that cost the lives of 12 people. In 1996, he was chosen as "Special Advisor to the Director General" and "The Goodwill Ambassador" of UNESCO.
In addition to his recordings and concerts, Lyvnely has expressed his creative vision through books and films. His publications include a fictional story, "Arafatta Bir Cocuk (A Child In Purgutory)," two books of editorials, Orta Zekalylar Cenneti (The Heaven Of Mediocre) and Sosyalizm Oldu Mu? (Is Socialism Dead?), and a novel, Engeredin Gozundeki Kamapma (The Eunuch of Constantinople). The recipient of a best novel award from the Balkan Literary Award Foundation, Engeredin Gozundeki Kamapma (The Eunuch of Constantinople) has been translated into Greek, German, and English. Lyvanely has written extensively for newspapers as well. His articles appeared daily in the Milliyet Daily Newspaper from 1994 to October 1998 and currently appear daily in the Sabah Newspaper.
Lyvanely's scores have been heard in more than 30 films, including The Herd, Shirin's Wedding, Mine, To Kill A Snake, The Bus, Blood, Black Head, and four self-directed films: Ïron Earth, Copper Sky, Mist, Shahmaran, and Yo/The Road. He received The Golden Palm Award for Best Director at the Velencia Film Festival in 1989 and the Golden Antigone at the Montpelier Film Festival. He served as president of the European Film Award's International Jury, also known as "The Felix", in 1990.