he guitar is an increasingly present phenomenon on the scenes of contemporary music of former Yugoslav republics. It is by no means an exaggeration to say that today a large part of the creative and interpretative work being done in our music is focused on the expressive possibilities of this plucked-string instrument. The classical guitar has already had such a long history in all Ex-Yugoslav countries that no one would begrudge the place it occupies. On the contrary, besides the tragic political development, which finally caused a disappearance of Yugoslavia at the end of the 80's, from both the theoretical and practical aspects, the appreciation for the guitar is still enjoying a marked upswing. But, before taking a brief look to the guitar history in former Yugoslavia, I feel the necessity of designating the general historical position of the space I will talk about. Parts of the Balkan Peninsula, in the southeast of Europe (later joining the country of Yugoslavia), were forced by different influences well as under various foreign authorities before 1918. The first idea of Yugoslav union was born during the XIX century, together with the appearance of capitalistic relations. In October of 1918 Croatia separated from Austria-Hungarian Monarchy, and during the Croatian Congress proclaimed the SCS-state (Serbia-Croatia-Slovenia state). Together with Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Vojvodina joined the state, and this uniting was officially announced on December the 1st. In 1929 the state of Serbia- Croatia and Slovenia, changed the name and became Yugoslav kingdom, and the period between First and Second World War, today is called: the period of the First Yugoslav country. The Second Yugoslavia, ruled by president Tito, was acclaimed on November 29th 1945, soon after the Second World War, when the communists took the authority in the country. SFRJC (Socialistic Federated Republic of Yugoslavia), was formed of six republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia), and two autonomic districts (Vojvodina and Kosovo with Metohije) in the constitution of Serbia. About ten years after Tito's death in 1980, our multinational and multi-confessional confederacy fell apart. First Slovenia followed by Croatia, Bosnia with Herzegovina, Macedonia becoming the independent countries, while Serbia and Montenegro remained together, forming the SR Yugoslavia (Socialistic Republic of Yugoslavia), or as we ironically call the Third Yugoslavia).
This, study is tracing the guitar in the whole Yugoslav territory, from the main beginning up to the end of eighties.
Yugoslav guitar history
16th Century "Beglerbeg" ensamble from Beograd as seen by Salomon Schweigger in 1576.
The earliest records of stringed instruments in Dardania (1) (territory of Macedonia and southern parts of Serbia) show that plucked-string instruments have existed in Yugoslavia since pre-Christian time, around 300 years B.C.
The Byzantine chronicler Teofilakt Simokata records the first evidence of the zither, used by the old Slavs who settled in the Balkans, in the seventh century. He reported an incident that occurred when three Slavonic soldiers, armed only with their plucked-string zithers, were captured by the army of the Byzantine emperor Mavrikie.
Nevertheless it would be unjustified to claim, that the Slavs were solely responsible for the development and expansion of the guitar-like instruments on Yugoslav soil. The influence of Antic Greece, and then Romans should also be mentioned. It is hard to believe that, during their rule over the Balkan Peninsula, their most favored instruments the Zither Teutonica
and Zither Romana,
were not played in the conquered territories.
From early middle Ages a variety of stringed instruments existed all over the Yugoslav territory. There was a strong tradition of showing the players and their instruments in paintings in the monasteries and churches at that time. The different kinds of lutes, mandoras, psalteries, harps and tamburas then in use, were the ancestors of the contemporary guitar; some of these instruments (e.g. mandolins and tamburas) are still used in our folk music. During the period of Renaissance especially the lute, and soon after the guitar, were widely played in some parts of Yugoslavia, mainly due to the influence of neighboring countries: Italy, Austria and Germany.
In the regions of Istria, Slovenia and Dalmatia, wandering minstrels were a common sight, particularly in centers of major importance such as Dubrovnik, Split or Hvarv. Many fragments of literature, written in Dubrovnik, record the widespread use of lutes in accompanying dancing or singing. The collection of the famous musician Tomaso Cecchini, from Hvar, published in Venice in 1612,contains the madrigals Amorosi concett
i for voice, accompanied by a lute or chittarone. Cecchini was born around 1580 and lived until l614.
Facsimile of the front page and part of Tremori e Contrabassi intabblature by Francis from Bosnia, Published in 1509.
The popularity of these instruments was such, that according to an old manuscript, the Archbishop of Split had to forbid his priests from going out on the streets at night to sing and play the lutes. The best-known lutenist of that time was Francisous Bossinensis (Franjo Bosanac, or Francá from Bosnie) born at the end of the fifteenth century somewhere in Bosnia as his name says, and lived for some time in Venice, Italy. He composed for the lute and voice, and his principal works were Italian ricercare and frottole. His original ricercares, conceived as preludes to individual frottole, are the first solo composition to be written for the lute. He entered the world history of music because he paved the way, with his frottoles, to the voal-instrumental soloist practice of music playing, whereby he became the precursor of the early Baroque monody. Two of his collections were published by Ottavio Petrucci, in Venice (1509) and Fossombrone (151l).
Some manuscripts in the collection of Skofja Loka, which were discovered in Slovenia in l7ll, contain instructions concerning musical work as well as the lute tablature. Many prominent figures, such as Slovenian lawyer, Janez Andrej Mugerle (1658-l7ll), played the lute as a pastime, but played it extremely well, according to the reports of their contemporaries.
In the early seventeenth century the guitar gradually displaced the lute in our country, first as an accompanying instrument, and later as a solo one. During the seventeenth century the guitar was very popular in many Dalmatian towns and villages; in other places (e.g.Serbia under Turkish rule), an instrument very much like the Dalmtian guitar was also played. Salomon Schweiger, a deputy of King Rudolf II, who traveled through Serbia in 1745,wrote: "I saw young people in the streets, playing instruments that strongly resemble our zithers, and also some strange looking instruments that reminded me of big wooden spoons"(2)
. The Gypsies who lived in Belgrade in the seventeenth century played a special kind of guitar with five strings, which they called tcgigour.
Slovenian lute tablature from Skofja Loka from 1721.
French writer M.Quiclet wrote about this after his visit to Belgrade in l658. (3)
In eighteenth century Vojvodina treat attention was given to musical education: it was an obligatory part of general education, particularly for young ladies from more effluent families, to learn to play the guitar. At first, the harp and the piano were the most popular instruments among the town residents, but only a century later the guitar became strongly in vogue. Some contemporary writers, who tried to preserve the leading position of the piano, openly mocked the growing fashion of guitar playing among the higher-middle classes. Some critics of the time even noticed, as they said: "a guitar fever spreading all over Europe." Franjo Kuhac (1834-l911), a famous musicologist from Zagreb, who himself played the guitar in his youth, wrote: "In the late sixties of the XIX century, almost every house in our country had a guitar, and almost everybody claimed to be able to play it, better or worse..."
There is considerable documentation and off course publications from this period. In the early XIX century many composers used the guitar for writing, the instrument was played by many other writers, painters and poets; Josip Runjanin (1821-1878), the author of the Croatian national anthem, wrote some pieces for solo guitar, the Ilirian poet Stanko Vras (1810-1851) sang and played his song with a guitar, and the famous painter Vjekoslav Karas (1821-1858) also played this instrument.
Slowly many workshops for the production and repair of string instruments were opened during that century. Franjo Fink (1790-1875), who lived in Zagreb, was among the first Croatian luthiers; He was followed by many others all over the country: Fridrich Mayer in Sombor in 1860, Vlada Toskanovic in Belgrade in 1890, Jovan Szadov in Macedonia, and many others.
During the first half of XIX century, our first guitar methods were written. Among the most interesting is a guitar school by Georgije Milanovic from 1842, probably made in the city of Novi Sad in Vojvodina.
The greatest l9th century Croatian guitarist and guitar composer
IX Cen. Croatian Guitarist an Composer
Undoubtedly, the greatest professional guitarist of that time was Ivan Padovec (Varazdin July 17, l800-November 4, 1873). His father's parents were Czech immigrants who came to the city of Varazdin (Croatia) and his mother Josipa was from a moor family that lived there. As a child, he had very delicate health (very often ill). Ivan was of fearful nature and on top of that he was extremely shortsighted. When he was ten years old, a boy of the same age hit him with a stone in his left eye during a game; he became completely blind. Being handicapped, he could not become a priest, as his parents wished him to do, so after elementary school in Varazdin, Ivan decided to enroll in a normal school in Zagreb, hoping to find, a job as an elementary school teacher in the country. A certain musical education was required in order to enter the school; his uncle sent him a violin from Vienna in l8l5. Ivan started to learn to play the instrument with a teacher, whose name is not known. In the following year, during a visit to his uncle in Austria, he had a chance to hear the Italian guitarist Mauro Giuliani. He was so fascinated by his playing that he immediately decided to start learning to play the Guitar.
According to musicologist Kuhac, even before meeting Giuliani, Ivan had some contacts with the guitar, which was so popular that everyone in the country managed to play it somehow.
Returning to Varazdin, Padovec began to teach himself to play the guitar, using the method of Bartoluzzi. Through his talent and constant practicing, Ivan made rapid progress; in the same year he was able to give lessons to friends thus supporting him. He continued to do so until 1819,when he came to Zagreb, to a normal school, where he soon acquired a reputation as a good guitarist; this caused him to decide to leave the school and devote himself entirely to music. Being aware of his lack of more theoretical knowledge, but yet ready to try even to compose Padovec took lessons with the well-known choirmaster Juraj K.Wiesner Morgenstern (1783-1855). In l824, he had mastered harmony, composition and piano playing, to the great satisfaction of his teacher. Padovec earned a reputation as a virtuoso guitarist as well as the composer of some elaborate and complex pieces for that instrument. He also established a music society with his ex-students and a few musical amateurs. "The Zagreb Sextet", a small group later developed into a big association, the Musikverein, with Wiesner as its leader.
In 1827, Ivan Padovec started giving concerts, first in Rijeka, Trietse, Zadar, Zagreb and Varazdin. Two years later, in Vienna, the Court audience was fascinated by his virtuosity and his compositions. He settled there, acquiring many students from the most respected families, and becoming a favorite in high artistic circles. The notable publishing house of Diabelli printed his music.
Padovec spent the period 1829 up to 1837 in Vienna, occasionally having to tour in Pest, Graz, Prague and Brno, and in 1836, further a field in Bavaria, Frankfurt, Hanover, Hamburg, London, and in, the region of Sas. On his tours Padovec met various publishers, who bought his works in order to publish them. As his visits to those towns were short, and he was rather careless with his works, he never managed to get all his pieces which where published around. He even found himself without copies of many of his compositions presented in Austria by Diabelli, Haslinger, Mecheti and Giöggl, Müjller in Pest, and Marko Ber in Prague. Padovec explained this to Kuhac: "Whenever any of my works were published, I would get several copies free of charge which were quickly grabbed by my friends or students. I didn't buy any of them later, since I had them in manuscripts."
In 1936, Padovec appeared in various towns in Poland. Already then, his sight was steadily weakening and he abandoned his tour in Russia and returned to Vienna. On the advice of his doctors, who were unable to cure him, he soon returned to his native Varazdin, where he stopped writing and reading for a time. By this means he began to recover.
His sight improved, he was able to teach and perform occasionally in Varazdin and nearby towns.
After one of his great concerts in Zagreb in 1840, the magazine "Danica" on January 18th recorded:
"Our particular attention was caught by our countryman Mr. Pedovec, the composer and the best guitar virtuoso, who was not deprived at praise by even the severe critics in Vienna. He performed two concerts in the city theatre and showed, that even on such an instrument, it was possible to play tenderly and skillfully, thus surprising everyone else. All the pieces he played had great success, but his own variations on the folk song Nek se hrusti
were mostly appreciated."
Besides these concerts, Ivan Padovec wrote a great number of works in this period, in spite of his poor sight. Pride of place among his works belongs to his 31-page tutor book Teoretische-practische Guitar Schule,
which was awarded a First Prize of 40 ducats in a competition bearing the name of a Russian guitarist (probably Makarov). The Viennese house of Werner published the method in 1842.
Its eight chapters contain general musical instruction on the technique of playing the six-string guitar. The second part of the book consists of melodious pieces for practicing, and the third deals with playing the ten-string guitar. The ten-string guitar invented by Padovec had, in addition to the usual SIX strings and four basses (D, C, B1 and A1), fastened by separate pegs, by which each one could be sharpened by a semitone. Padovec considered that this enriched the tone of the instrument. The famous Viennese luthier Stauffer made the guitar for him. In 1848, Padovec lived in the family house of his sister, facing financial problems. As he was completely blind he could neither compose nor teach. Despite this he still tried to make some music, which was dictated to his friends. Later the scores were checked, corrected or rewritten by Udl Ivan, an organist from Varazdin. At the end of his life Padovec lived in great poverty. He did receive some financial support, but this was insufficient.
In 1971, Padovec gave his last performance in the Varazdin Theatre. Journalist Plohol commented on this in number 25 of the magazine Vienac
: "Just like a candle which gathers its strength and flames up, before finally going out, the weak, vulnerable old man gathered all his strength and gave his final concert last year in the Varazdin Theatre." On November 4th of the same year, Ivan Padovec died, leaving no children, for he never married. The young attended his humble funeral from the country school, and a few singers. Later, his admirers erected a monument to him in Varazdin.
This is how Ivan Padovec spent his life, leaving over 200 compositions. Among his Works the most numerous are those written for one and two guitars, then the vocal pieces accompanied by guitar or piano various chamber pieces.
However, the popularity of the guitar slowly declined in the second half of the nineteenth century in Yugoslavia.
The new guitar era in Yugoslavia
A new moment in the development of the guitar in Yugoslavia occurred at the beginning of the twentieth Century, influenced by many famous music centers, such as Vienna, Prague, Milan, Munich and others. Contact between our musicians and their foreign colleagues have contributed to the advancement of guitar pedagogy. This is very well exemplified by the publication printed by a publisher named Jaroslav Stozick in Brno-Bratislava around 1884. It was a guitar method written by Albert Fisher, a composer from Prague. The work was entitled Chezco-Croatian national and practical school for guitar and was printed in two languages, Czech and Croatian. The author was obviously aiming at the market of both countries.
In the period before and after World War II, general interest in the guitar was gradually increasing, though it was still confined to amateur players and country folk musicians, who could not obtain any systematic and professional education. A great number of mandolin orchestras were formed at that time, most of which included the guitar. To meet the growing interest by young people, some self-taught guitarists, as well as other musicians (especially composers), wrote new schools for the instrument: Nikola Vukasinovic published his New comprehensive guitar method
in Zagreb in 1927.Slovenian composer Adolf Grobming (l89l-l969) did the same in Ljubljana in the same period.
Among the best luthiers we had in that time was Ernest Koroskenyi (l9l2-1978), who lived and worked from 1962, in Germany, and made an international reputation. Many others, followed him, among them, the most successful was Mijo Bockaj (1908-1990) from Zagreb, who made himself hundreds of concert guitars, as well as a number of mandolins and seven-string guitars. One of the pioneers in the field of guitar pedagogy was Albert Drutter (l907-1985) from Sibebnik, followed by Vjenceslav Sambolicek (l904-1970) in Virovitica, Ante Vranic and Ernest Dvorzak from Zagreb, and numerous others. Some guitarists left the country just before the World War II, and continued with their careers abroad: We wish to point out Mirko Markovic (l914-l978) who came to USA in 1938. He had his guitar club there and made a recording of his music for Monitor Company in New York.
Thanks to our radio broadcastings during the thirties and forties musicians who sung and played the guitar were very popular. Most of them were performing traditional Songs from Dalmatian and north parts of the country. They made arrangements and published numerous guitar albums with this kind of music. The most active were Jasa Tomic (l902-l941), Stevan Malek (b.l904-?) after they left for Germany, Uros Seferovic(1912-1987), Emil Geusic, Mirko Spasojevic, Branko Savoic, all from Beograd.
Our guitar pedagogy reached, its peak in the sixties. The guitar was first introduced in lower and later on in senior grades in the music schools. In 1974, a guitar department was first opened at the music Academy in Zagreb (Croatia). The first professor was Stanko Prek from Slovenia (b.l9l5), a composer who studied the guitar at the Academy of Music in Munich. Prek's, opus includes symphony, string Quartets, choral works, songs and guitar works.
The fifties and sixties could be called "The Golden Age" of the guitar in Yugoslavia, marked by the work of many amateurs and professionals. Famous among them were the brothers Slavko Fumic (1912-1945) and Rudolf Fumic (1915-1951) both active as players and composers and whose music was played even by Luise Walker. Viktor Himelraj lived and worked in Osijek where he published large number of guitar titles, brothers Vincenso and Marko Jelcic did the same in Split, Kosta Popovic in Sarajevo together with Vjekoslav Andree, Jakob Segula in Ljubljana, Ljerka Petrocie-Dekan and Edo Duga in Zagreb, Dragoslav Nikolic in Culprija, Branislav Jojkic in Pancevo, Nada Kondic in Beograd and many others.
In Sarajevo the ex-capital of republic of Bosnia and Hercegovina, at the end of sixties started one of the first guitar societies in Balkan, which had their own classical guitar magazine "Guitar." The First issue of this magazine was printed in July 1968.
The guitar luthiers were specially active in republic of Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia; The great instruments were made by Vlado Proskurnjak in Varazdin, Mato Papak in Sarajevo and Zika Paunevic in Beograd.
It would also be unjust not to mention music writers and composers. Among our most famous composers such as Boris Papandopoulo, Bruno Bjelinski, Miroslav Miletic in Croatia, Mihovil Logar, Alojz Srebotunjak in Slovenia, Toma Prosev from Macedonia, Miodrag Oupic from Montenegro, Petar Stajic from Beograd, and many others who must be given credit for their contribution toward making the guitar popular and appreciated throughout Yugoslavia.
By far one of the most eminent Yugoslav guitarists from the second half of century is Dr. Jovan Jovicic, living in Beograd.
1- The Dardanci was the Ilirian tribe. They lived around rivers, South Morava and Toplica, the territory between Skoplje in Macedonia and the city of Nis in Serbia. Greek writer Strabonis wrote about them, who were wild and savaje but their music was with played with string instruments.
2- Salomon Schweigger-Enie newe Reyssbeschreinbung auss Teutchland nach Constatinopel und Jerusalem? Auff fleissigst eigner Person verzeichlan?Numberg 1613, pg 39-40
3- Les voyages de M.Quiclet a Constantinpple par tarre, Paris 1664
4- Franjo Kuhac-Ilirski glazbenici, Zagreb 1893.