Münir Nurettin Beken's career spans theory, composition, ethnomusicology, and performance. A native of Istanbul, Beken began his training on the Turkish ud at an early age under the tutelage of the renowned Mutlu Torun. He joined the faculty of the State Conservatory of Istanbul immediately upon graduating with honors from that institution. A founding member of the State Turkish Music Ensemble, he appeared numerous times on Turkish national television and represented his native country at international festivals throughout Eastern Europe.
Beken came to the US in 1989 to assume the position of Executive Director for the University of Maryland's Center for Turkish Music. After earning a doctorate in ethnomusicology from the University of Maryland, he held teaching positions at the University of Washington in Seattle and Siena College in Upstate New York. In 2007 he was invited to join the faculty of the Ethnomusicology Department at the Herb Alpert School of Music University of California, Los Angeles where he directs the World Music Center. His articles on Turkish music appear on various publications including the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
As the outstanding Turkish ud virtuoso, Beken has toured extensively and has given recitals in many prestigious venues including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Herbst Theater in San Francisco. His much acclaimed solo recordings featuring both traditional and contemporary music for the ud are available on the Rounder Records label. On the North/South Recordings label he appears as soloist with the North/South Chamber Orchestra in a masterful rendition of his Concerto for Turkish Ud and Orchestra.
Beken studied composition in Turkey with Cemal Resit Rey and Yalçin Tura. In the US he studied with Stuart Sanders Smith before participating in masterclasses offered by such luminaries as George Crumb, Lukas Foss, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Roger Reynolds and Charles Wuorinen. His works have been performed throughout the US and abroad. His Triple Concerto for three violins and orchestra was premiered by the eminent violinist Shlomo Mintz and A Turk in Seattle was commissioned by the Seattle Chamber Players and premiered at Seattle's prestigious Benaroya Hall. I Am a Corpse for violin and orchestra was recorded by The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. His works are published by Pacific Serenades in California, Amplitude Music in France and Isuku Verlag in Germany.