Tayfun Kesgin

Sarajevans are brutally honest

Tayfun Kesgin, a German with Turkish roots, lives with his family in Sarajevo, his wife's hometown, where he is in music and teaches at a foreign language school.


After studying English and French in Germany for two years, he did his singing studies at LIPA, Paul McCartney's academy in Liverpool.

He first heard about Sarajevo during the 1984 WOG and during the war in BiH, and he first visited our city in 2001 with his wife Alma, whom he met in Germany through a mutual friend from Dalmatia.

A meeting of East and West

- We tried living in Marmaris, Turkey for a while, but it was harder to fit in there than in BiH. We settled down in Sarajevo, which was just like me – a meeting of East and West, in 2002. Sarajevans have shown themselves to be easy-going, full of hospitality and spirit, with a specific sense of humor, but also brutally honest.

From the start, he was always going out, and he learned Bosnian by socializing and getting familiar with the music and cultural scenes.

- At that time, it felt like the start of something new, and groups like Skroz, Sikter, Irina i Vi, Damir Imamović Trio, Edo Maajka, Frenkie…were active on the BiH scene.

Jazz and sevdah

Not long after moving here he wanted to get involved in local cultural life.

- I started working at a foreign language school, then at Goethe-Institut, where, after doing a jazz workshop, I focused on sevdah with then-director Michael Schroen.

During this time, he realized one of his dearest projects, Bentbaša – Bosnian Love Songs, a sevdalinka CD that involved top international musicians.

Tayfun hopes that street music festivals will see a comeback and that new and established bands will play on alternative and open scenes, like Wilson’s Promenade.

- I would love it if we had more festivals dedicated to modern dance and performance art. I love events that are held in places that serve as venues for something else, like having electronic music parties at the Historical Museum.


Besides working with Sarajevo Big Band, Tayfun also does vocals for Insane Insan, which formed recently. The band comprises seasoned musicians, and their multilingual, cross-genre album, Insanax, came out not long ago.

He describes Sarajevo as a lively city, so he often sits in the gardens on Radićeva St., attends gigs at Jazzbina, and festivals like MESS, Jazz Fest….

- I recommend a visit to Vraca, Skakavac, Umoljani and Jahorina, as well as the tunnels at Ravne Archeological Park in Visoko, where I work as a guide. The wine tours through Herzegovina are great, and they can be enriched by having top music performances in the wine cellars.

This vegetarian loves to pick mushrooms, he finds foods that suit his taste at Apetit, Falafel, Klopa..., and enjoys a panoramic view of Sarajevo from the restaurant Kod Bibana.

- The best local souvenirs are: BiH honey and brandy, and traditional woolen items.