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The music of Slovenia from the past to the present.

Origins to Medieval

The origins of Slovene music lie in surviving pagan fragments and the first musical settings of religious texts, beginning in the sixth century. The diary of Paolo Santonino, secretary to the patriarch of Aquileia, Cardinal Marco Barbo, contains references to the music that was heard in monasteries and churches towards the end of the fifteenth century. (2) The musical endeavours of the religious houses gave rise to part song. Works from this period typically showed an Italian influence. Slovene secular music before the sixteenth century owed a great deal to minesanger, wandering minstrels and other travelling musicians who would usually perform independently or together with singers. They would also quite frequently appear in church choirs. The first well-known musical name from these times is that of Jurij Slatkonja of Ljubljana.

Renaissance Music

Although the Slovene contribution to European Renaissance music was not great, it nevertheless existed. More important perhaps than composers were Slovene performers. Certain leading Slovene musicians such as Jacobus Handl Gallus (1550-1591) left their homes and began to establish the reputation of Slovene musical creativity in other countries. Gallus's madrigals, masses and motets crossed local borders and became the property of Europe as a whole. Gallus only really began to develop artistically in Vienna, Olomouc and Prague, where he was able to give free rein to his creative powers and become a figure of Europe-wide importance.

The Reformation had a negative influence on the development of music. Renaissance music, with Gallus at its forefront, was almost stamped out. On the other hand the Protestant song-books of the second half of the sixteenth century did leave a positive legacy.

The Counter-Reformation brought a new spirit to music. The closed borders were now thrown wide open. The clearest influence on Slovene creativity at this time was the music of the Italian Renaissance, though a musical Renaissance only really began to flourish in Slovenia at the beginning of the seventeenth century. During this period music by foreign composers dominated, something which can be seen from the 1620 Inventarium librorum musicalium Cathedralis Labacensis by Tomaz Hren which is preserved in the archive of the St. Nicholas's Cathedral Choir in Ljubljana. This work covers the first decades of the seventeenth century and is particularly interesting for studies of the stylistic physiognomy of the age. Also worth mentioning are the passion plays and processions from this period (although these were not primarily to do with music), the performances of the Ljubljana Jesuit Theatre in the mid-seventeenth century and the first opera performances. It appears that these were predominantly secular in tone.

Baroque Music

At the time of the transition from Late Renaissance to Early Baroque, important musicians working in Slovenia included Gabriel Plavec, Daniel Lagkhner and Isaac Pos. Notable foreigners included the Italian Gabriello Puliti. The most important music of the Baroque period was music for the theatre stage.

In 1701, the Academia Philharmonicorum was founded in Ljubljana. This was to become the most important factor in the popularizing of Baroque music in Slovenia. It influenced the development of interpretation, encouraged composers and determined the stylistic orientation of Slovene folk music and church hymn-books at the beginning of the second half of the eighteenth century--something which can also be seen from the melodic simplicity of the music of this time. The Academia Philharmonicorum was the first institution of its type outside the Roman and Anglo-Saxon worlds. The most noteworthy composer of the High and Late Baroque was Janez Krstnik Dolar.

Classical Music

As the Baroque declined and new stylistic tendencies began to appear in church and secular music, an important Slovene composer came to the fore. This was Kamnik-born Jakob Francisek Zupan, composer of the first Slovene opera. Belin. The influential Zois circle also produced the playwright and composer Anton Tomaz Linhart and the composer Amandus Ivancic. In 1769 the Academia Philharmonicorum closed. The modest output of Slovene composers and performers meant that Slovene music at this time could not really compare with the rest of Europe. The great social and artistic upheavals in Europe were responsible for the emergence of a new artistic style which also had an influence in Slovenia: Classicism. Thanks to the German theatres, Classicism first made itself felt in secular music. By around 1790, however, it had begun to take a leading role in other musical genres. The greatest achievement of the classical movement was the music for Linhart's comedy Ta veseli dan ali Maticek se zeni (This Happy Day or Maticek Gets Married) written by Janez Krstnik Novak and titled Figaro. Classical features are evident in the compositions of Franc Benedikt Dusik and in the work of certain new institutions such as Filharmonicna druzba/the Philharmonic Society, founded in 1794. The Philharmonic Society, Dezelno gledalisce/the Provincial Theatre (founded in 1892 by Gaspar Masek) and certain individuals such as Franc Pollini, Jurij Mihevc, Jozef Benes and Matija Babnik were ultimately responsible for establishing Classicism in Slovenia.


Romantic Music

The masterpiece of Romantic music that is Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, the "Pastoral", performed in Ljubljana in 1818, already showed signs of departure from the classical style, as well as certain ideological contrasts. The first expressly Romantic Slovene composer was Alojzij Ipavec. The Romantic era, in music as well as in the other arts, saw the beginning of efforts to shape a national form of expression. Musical creativity leant heavily on elements of the folk tradition. Most prominent in this field were Gregor Rihar, Blaz Potocnik and Luka Dolinar. Their work contains clear signs of their attempts to shape a specifically Slovene mode of expression. In later attempts by Slovenes at a consciously national orientation, the social cultural gatherings known as besede (words) became the most important factor. These events stimulated the appearance of different forms and led to an increase in the creation and performance of original works. Expressly nationally-orientated composers from this period include Jurij Fleisman, Miroslav Vilhar, Benjamin and Gustav Ipavec, Kamilo Masek, and the composers of the ecclesiastical circle: Leopold Cvek, Leopold Belar and Josip Levicnik. The revolutionary year of 1849, 'the year of the awakening of the small European nations', saw the appearance in Slovenia of 'reading societies'. These sprang up across the entire territory of Slovenia, but the most active were those in Ljubljana. Notable composers of the period include Anton Foerster, composer of the operetta/opera Gorenjski slavcek (Gorenjskan Nightingale) and Fran Gerbic The period also saw the foundation, in 1872, of Glasbena matica (The Musical Society). Originally founded in Ljubljana, branches of the Society later opened in other parts of the country. The reform of Slovene church music was undertaken primarily by Cecilijino drustvo/the Cecilian Society, founded in Ljubljana in 1877. The most important composers of the Cecilian Society circle were Avgust Armin Leban, Pater Hugolin Sattner, Janez Kokosar, Josip Lavtizar, Janez Laharnar, Ignacij Hladnik, Peter Jereb and Alojzij Mihelcic. Their great achievement was managing, despite their different approaches, to introduce Slovene national characteristics into church music. Among the leading composers of secular music during the Romantic era were Anton Nedveed, Davorin Jenko, Andrej Vavken, Vojteh Valenta, Danilo Fajgelj, Anton Hajdrih, Jakob Aljaz, Josip Kocijancic and Hraboslav Volaric. Other composers of the period included Viktor Parma, Oskar Dev, Anton Schwab, Josip Pavcic, Zorko Prelovec, Peter Jereb, Vinko Vodopivec, Fran Korun-Kozeljski, Fran Ferjancic, Emerik Beran and Fran Serafin Vilhar. Although to begin with, Slovene Romantic music could not compare with the more developed music in other parts of Europe, it was nevertheless important: it laid the foundations for an original Slovene musical culture and helped it to find its place in a European framework. The Ljubljana Musical Society and its director Matej Hubad were largely responsible for this.


In 1908 Slovenska filharmonija/the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra was founded. Between 1892 and 1913 the Slovene national Opera staged almost all of the operas then being performed in the opera houses of Europe. Slovene music publications included Cerkveni glasbenik (Church Musician), Glasbena zora (Musical Dawn), Novi akordi (New Chords) and Sveta Cecilija (Saint Cecilia), featuring writers such as Gojmir Krek, Stanko Premrl, Franc Kimovec, Emil Adamic and Anton Lajovic. Essay-writing and journalism, criticism and musicology began at this time to develop as separate fields of study. The work of the neo-Romantic and Impressionist generation was even more important. The exponents of these styles included Risto Savin (Friderik Sirca), Josip Ipavec, Gojmir Krek, Anton Lajovic, Emil Adamic and Janko Ravnik. The end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth saw Slovene music flowing once again with the musical currents of Europe. Other prominent musicians and composers of the period included Anton Jobst, Heribert Svetel and Matija Tomc.

The Twentieth Century

Modern musical directions in the twentieth century are also typified by a high level of development in composition and interpretation. Among composers such as Vasilij Mirk, Zdravko Svikarsic, Mihael Rozanc, Srecko Kumar, Makso Unger, Ivan Grbec, Ciril Pregelj, Sasa Santel and Breda Scek, the seeds of the modern movement were sown by Marij Kogoj and his work for mixed choir, Trenotek (A Moment), set to a text by Josip Murn-Aleksandrov. The work appeared in 1914, in the final volume of New Chords. Expressionism in Slovene music began with Kogoj. His opera Crne maske (The Black Masks), the most important expressionist work in Slovene music, was of a quality that even surpassed the musical achievements of contemporary composers elsewhere in Europe. The next composer to rise to prominence after Kogoj was Matija Bravnicar. He was followed by Lucijan Marija Skerjanc and Slavko Osterc, who boasted their own 'schools of composition'. (3) Next came Srecko Koporc, Blaz Arnic, Danilo Svara, Jozko Jakoncic, Franjo Luzevic, Marjan Kozina, Mirko Polic, Ferdo Juvanec, Anton Lavrin, Bogo Leskovic and Emil Ulaga. The composers of the second modern generation, with their post-Romantic creative leanings included composer and pianist Pavel Sivic (1908-1995), Josip Kaplan, pianist and composer Marijan Lipovsek (1910-1995), Franc Sturm, Karol Pahor, Peter Lipar, Demetrij Zebre, Maks Pirnik, Stanko Jericijo, Viktor Mihelcic and Dr. Radoslav Hrovatin. They were followed, immediately before the Second World War, by choral director and composer Janez Kuhar (1911-1997), Paul John Sifler (1911-2001, in the USA), Emil Ulaga, composer and conductor Klaro Marija Mizerit (1914-2007 in Canada), composer, guitarist and teacher Stanko Prek (1915-1999), Karel Hladky, composer and academician Primoz Ramovs (1921-1999), Ubald Vrabec, Jurij Gregorc and Slavko Mihelcic.

The post-Romantic period continued with the composer, choral director and teacher Radovan Gobec (1909-1995), Bogo Leskovic, Rado Simoniti, Janko Gregorc, composer and conductor Bojan Adamic (1912-1995), Uros Prevorsek and Samo Hubad. Following the Second World War music was enriched by the new currents represented by the work of the members of the third modern generation: conductor, journalist, composer and teacher Ciril Cvetko (1920-1999), composer and teacher Aleksander Lajovic (1920-2011), Marjan Vodopivec, composer, conductor and teacher Zvonimir Ciglic (1921-2006), Canadian Slovene Joze Osana, Bozidar Kantuser (1921-1999, between Ljubljana and Paris), Ciril Kren (1921-2007, in Argentina), composer and academician Uros Krek (1922-2008), composer (primarily of film music) Franc Lampret (1923-1997), composer and teacher Albin Weingerl (1923-2010), teacher, composer and journalist Janez Bitenc (1925-2005), Ivan Scek, Janez Komar, Vladimir Lovec, Vilko Ukmar, composer, teacher and essayist Pavle Kalan (1929-2005) and Marko Zigon.

The composers of the fourth generation, i.e. those working after 1950, embraced the most modern musical thinking. They included Ljubljana- and Paris-based academician Janez Maticic (b. 1926), Trieste-based Pavle Merku (b. 1927), composer and teacher Jakob Jez (b. 1928), Milan Stibilj, Kruno Cipci, Pomurje-based teacher Ladislav Voros (b. 1930), composer, singer, choral director and teacher Samo Vremsak (1930-2004), Primorskan composer, choral director and teacher Stefan Mauri (b. 1931), composer Ivo Petric (b. 1931), Bogdan Habbe, composer and teacher Alojz Srebotnjak (1931-2010), composer and teacher Dane Skerl (1931-2002), composer and teacher Igor Stuhec (b. 1932), composer, pianist and teacher Dr. Igor Dekleva (b. 1933), the greatest Slovene in Europe (or European in Slovenia) the academician Vinko Globokar (1934-2012), the serious/popular composer Janez Gregorc (b. 1934), the academician Bozidar Kos (b. 1934, after living in Australia, in Slovenia repeatedly), composer and teacher/academician Lojze Lebic (b. 1934), composer and teacher Mira Voglar (b. 1935), composer and teacher Egi Gaspersic (b. 1936), composer and pianist Milan Potocnik (1936-2004), composer, pianist and teacher Ljubo Rancigaj (b. 1936), composer and ethnomusicologist/ folklorist Julijan Strajnar (b. 1936), composer and teacher Franc Jelincic (b. 1937), Dr. Breda Oblak, composer, music critic and teacher Pavel Mihelcic (b. 1937), composer Alojz Ajdic (b. 1939), Anton Klar, Ivan Mignozzi and Branko Rajster.

The problems of individuality, nationality and universality are topical and significant features of the new orientations of the Slovene composers who fall within the framework of the postmodern stylistic trends of industrial society at the end of the twentieth and at the start of the twenty-first centuries. This is the so-called fifth generation of composers to leave its mark on Slovene music: composer and teacher Marijan Gabrijelcic (1940-1998), Darko Kaplan, Bogomir Kokol, Anton Natek, Borivoj Savicki, priest, musician, conductor and composer Joze Trost (b. 1940), Vienna-based priest, composer and conductor Avgust Ipavec (b. 1940), Franc Turnsek, Kosovo-born Zeqirja Ballata (b. 1943), composer and teacher Janez Osredkar (b. 1944), Uros Lajovic, composer and teacher Janko Jezovsek (b. 1945, currently working in Germany), Anton Gorjanc, Franc Sojat, Marin Tusek, Anton Zuraj, the Slovenia-based Croat Vladimir Hrovat (b. 1947), composer, teacher and conductor Tomaz Habe (b. 1947), composer, conductor and musical director Stane Jurgec (b. 1947), composer and teacher Ales Strajnar (b. 1947), pianist and composer Blazenka Arnic Lemez (b. 1947), composer and teacher Ivo Kopecky (b. 1947), composer and teacher Maksimiljan Fegus (b. 1948), composer and teacher Jani Golob (b. 1948), composer, harpsichordist, organist and teacher Maks Strmcnik (b. 1948) and composer, pianist and teacher Peter Kopac (b. 1949).

The young postmodernist middle generation of today's Slovene composers, those in their fifties and sixties includes composers of the sixth generation: composer Marijan Sijanec (b. 1950), composer Igor Majcen (b. 1952), composer, organist and teacher Franc Ban (1953-2007), composer Aldo Kumar (b. 1954), clarinettist, composer and teacher Uros Rojko (b. 1954), freelance composer Bor Turel (b. 1954), composer, conductor and teacher Tomaz Svete (b. 1956), composer and teacher Brina Jez Brezavscek (b. 1957), composer and teacher Marko Mihevc (b. 1957), organist and composer Milko Bizjak (b. 1959) and composer and teacher Pavel Merljak (b. 1959). These are joined by other even younger composers born after 1960: Baki Jashari (born in Kosovo, he was working in Slovenia; now on Kosovo), composer, choral director and teacher Dr. Andrej Misson (b. 1960), composer and essayist Dr. Mitja Reichenberg (b. 1961), composer and teacher Dr. Peter Savli (b. 1961), Chilean 'Slovene' Aljosa Solovera-Roje (b. 1963), Nenad First (b. 1964 in Croatia, working mainly in Slovenia), composer and singer Boris Vremsak (b. 1964), composer, music editor and teacher Igor Krivokapic (b. 1965), composer, nursery school teacher and freelance musician Blaz Rojko (b. 1965), composer and teacher Dr. Jerica Oblak-Parker (b. 1966, now working in USA), composer, choral director and teacher Damijan Mocnik (b. 1967), composer and teacher Larisa Vrhunc (b. 1967) and composer and teacher Urska Pompe (b. 1969).

Examples of even more recent Slovene musical creativity would have to include the most recent graduates of the Ljubljana Academy of Music and the most promising of its current students: composer and teacher Vitja Avsec (b. 1970), composer and teacher Dusan Bavdek (b. 1971), composer, choral director and teacher Ambroz Copi (b. 1973), composer and music producer Dr. Ziga Stanic (b. 1973), composer and teacher Rok Golob (b. 1975), Tomaz Bajzelj, Vladimir Batista, Nejc Becan, David Beovic, Tomaz Burkat, Srecko Devjak, Pavel Dolenc, Ivan Florjanc, Nana Forte, Bojan Glavina, Neville Hall (from New Zeland), Robert Kamplet, Tina Mauko, Marjan Mlakar, Diana Novak, Urska Oresic, Mihael Pas, Gregor Pirs, Zarko Princic, Blaz and Jaka Pucihar, Katarina Pustinek Rakar, (Crt Sojar Voglar, Bojana Saljic Podesva, Nina Senk, Tadeja Vulc, Brina Zupancic, and Vito Zuraj.

Credit for furthering the development of Slovene music in the twentieth century must also be shared by the RTV Slovenia Big Band (under its conductors Bojan Adamic, Joze Privsek, and Alojz Krajncan), the Brothers Avsenik Ensemble, the two national Opera and Ballet Companies (in Ljubljana and Maribor), the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra (the national symphony orchestra) under musical director En Shao, the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Emmanuel Villaume, the bands of the Slovene Police Force and the Slovene Army, the Slovene Chamber Choir, the Society of Slovene Composers, the Slovene Music Information Center Society, Institute for Music and information Science at the Centre for Interdiscplinary and Multidisciplinary Research and Studies of the University of Maribor.

Among contemporary Slovene musicians in the twentieth and the twenty-first century we can find in European and World arena the clarinettist Mate Bekavac, the soprano Sabina Cvilak, the flutist Irena Grafenauer, the mezzo-soprano Marjana Lipovsek, the violinist Igor Ozim, the trombonist Branimir Slokar, the Slovenian Octet, the pianist Dubravka Tomsic Srebotnjak, and the tenor Janez Lotric.

This introduction would scarcely be complete if it failed to mention the most interesting exponents of popular music, popular folk music and jazz in Slovenia. Notable names in the world of popular music are conductor, pianist, arranger and composer Mario Rijavec (1921-2006), jazz trumpeter, arranger and composer Urban Koder (b. 1928), Ati Soss, composer Mojmir Sepe (b. 1930), composer and arranger Borut Lesjak (1931-1995), pianist and composer (of jazz and popular music) Jure Robeznik (b. 1933), jazz pianist, composer and conductor Joze Privsek (1937-1998), Silvester Stingl, arranger and composer Deco Zgur (b. 1938), saxophonist, composer and teacher Tone Jansa (b. 1943), arranger, conductor and composer Berti Engelbert Rodosek (b. 1943), Mihan Mihelic, saxophonist and composer Andy Arnol (1947-2002), composer and photographer Lado Jaksa (b. 1947), guitarist and composer Jerko Novak (b. 1957), composer, pianist, producer and editor Slavko Avsenik, Jr. (b. 1958), composer and author/freelance musician Gregor Strnisa (b. 1959), trombonist, composer and conductor Emil Spruk (b. 1960), trombonist, composer and conductor Alojz Krajncan (b. 1961), harpsichordist, pianist, saxophonist, composer, arranger and conductor Milko Lazar (b. 1965), freelance composer Mitja Vrhovnik Smrekar (b. 1966) and trumpeter/arranger Dominik Krajncan (b. 1967). The wealth of musicians working in the field of popular folk music, an important of the twentieth and at the beginning of the twenty-first centuries musical genre in Slovenia, include legends such as clarinettist and composer Vilko Ovsenik (b. 1928), his brother, accordionist and composer Slavko Avsenik (b. 1929), clarinettist, composer, producer and arranger Boris Kovacic (1934-1999) and Hanzi Artac (b. 1951), who works on the other side of the Karavanke Alps in Austria, Patrik Greblo.



Cvetko, Dragotin, Stoletja slovenske glasbe (The Centuries of Slovene Music), Ljubljana: Cankarjeva zalozba, 1964.

Cvetko, Dragotin, Zgodovina glasbene umetnosti na Slovenskem (The History of Music Art in Slovenia), Ljubljana: Drzavna zalozba Slovenije, 1958-1960.

Klemencic, Ivan, Musica noster amor: Glasbena umetnost Slovenije od zacetkov do danes/ (The Musical Art of Slovenia from its Beginning to Today), Maribor, Ljubljana: Zalozba Obzorja in glasbeno zaloznistvo Helidon, Znanstvenoraziskovalni center SAZU, Slovenska akademija znanosti in umetnosti, 2000.

Kovacevic, Kresimir, Leksikon Cz-Glasbeniki (Lexicon Cz-Musicians), Ljubljana: Cankarjeva zalozba, 1988.

Kriznar, Franc, Kogojevi dnevi 1980-1994, 15 let (Kogoj's Days 1980-1994, 15 Years), Kanal: Prosvetno drustvo 'Soca', 1994.

Kriznar, Franc and Tihomir Pinter, Sodobni slovenski skladatelji (Contemporary Slovene Composers), Ljubljana: Presernova druzba, 1997.

Kriznar, Franc and Tihomir Pinter, Sto slovenskih skladateljev (A Hundred Slovene Composers), Ljubljana: Presernova druzba, 1997.

Kriznar, Franc and Tihomir Pinter, Sto slovenskih glasbenikov (A Hundred Slovene Musicians), Ljubljana: Presernova druzba, 2002.

Rijavec Andrej, Slovenska glasbena dela (The Sloveninan Music Works), Drzavna zalozba Slovenije, Ljubljana 1979.

Uredniski odbor/Editorial Committee: Jancar Drago, Jemec Andrej, Kovic Kajetan, Lebic Lojze, Mezeg Zoran; besedilo napisal/Written by: Klemencic Ivan; Uredil/Edited by: Lebic Lojze, Slovenski skladatelji akademik (Slovenian Composers Academicians), Ljubljana: Slovenska akademija znanosti in umetnosti, 2003.

Franc Kriznar (1)

(1.) Dr. Franc Kriznar is Head of the Institute for Music Information Science at the Center for Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Research and Study at University of Maribor, Slovenia.

(2.) Cvetko Dragotin, Stoletja slovenskeglasbe (The Centuries of Slovene Music), Ljubljana: Cankarjeva zalozba, 1964.

(3.) Rijavec Andrej, Slovenska glasbena dela (The Slovenian Music Works), Ljubljana: Drzavna ztalozba Slovenije, 1979, p. 198.
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Author:Kriznar, Franc
Publication:Fontes Artis Musicae
Geographic Code:4EXSL
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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