The Balkans — Music

Music is an essential cornerstone of life in this occasionally turbulent part of the world; perhaps even as the nation of Yugoslavia fell apart people who lived there found some solace in the fact that their traditional music–a thousand-year old part of their culture–was not going to change. All of the Balkan countries have maintained their long history of religious (mainly Christian) and village folk traditional music, and have even been able to revive endangered forms now that there is peace. Still, even after having spent so much time in flux, music is such an valued part of life here that new forms, like Balkan beat and turbo folk, continue to develop. Each of the Balkan countries has a burgeoning contemporary music scene that yields rappers, rock stars and maybe, in the Balkans’ wildest dreams, potential winners of the next Eurovision.

As above, we’ll highlight some of the most exciting elements of each= of the former Yugoslav Balkan nations, this time with the help of Wikipedia:

In class we’re going to listen to:

— “Soske Sul Na Avea” by Boban Markovic Orkestar from “Devla” Serbian trumpet player Boban Markovic is likely the most important band leader in the Balkans. He and his various bands and “orkestars” play Balkan brass music that finds its inspiration in Balkan traditions, klezmer, funk and jazz. He and his son Marko, who has become a trumpet maestro in his own right, continue to win countless prizes and accolades at Balkan brass and world music festivals and tour the world bringing Balkan brass music to the masses.

More information:
Boban and Marko Markovic Orchestra’s home page | Boban’s biography: “Boban’s talent is due not to formal musical studies, but to the internal sense of rhythm that he possesses in his blood….” | Boban’s orchestra, live in Crete

— “Kolo” by Darko Rundek & Cargo Orkestar from “Mhm A-ha Oh Yeah Da-da” Croatian musician Darko Rundek began his performing career in the late ’70s and early ’80s with the Zagreb-based rock band Haustor. He has since become an eclectic creative force, achieving success as a songwriter, theater and film composer, director and occasionally as an actor. He and Cargo Orkestar blend traditional Croatian folk with music from elsewhere in the Balkans, Central Europe, Mediterranean, Latin American, African and even Jamaica.

More information:
About Darko Rundek and the Cargo Orkestar | Darko Rundek and the Cargo Orkestar performing “Sejn”

— “Limping Waltz” by Boris Kovac from “World After History”
Boris Kovac is a Vojvodina-born composer, instrumentalist and multimedia artist who has earned respect among European musicians and artists for his work blending folk, chamber music and theater. “Limping Waltz” is a piece that interprets two eras of history in Pannonia, a territory of the Roman Empire that roughly corresponds= to land in parts of Hungary and the former Yugoslavia today — one before “the apocalypse,” one after. (Perhaps a reference to more recent history of the region…?)

More information:
Boris Kovac’s web site | Kovac’s short bio | Boris Kovac and La Campanella perform “Limping Waltz” (and the camera operator performs a lot of swaying around and zooming in and out) | Kovac and the Tango Apocalypso | Kovac’s “poetical CV”:
“In my creative development I distinguish three essential stages, those of House, Way and Being”

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