This week in music class we visit the now-independent countries on Southeastern Europe’s Balkan peninsula that used to compose the nation of Yugoslavia and try to clear up some of the region’s complex recent history. Countries of the former Yugoslavia demonstrate many shared cultural, linguistic and geographical traits, and the “Balkan brass” music that dominates the region is utterly exuberant. That’s easy enough to understand. What confuses us is the fact that since the early ’90s ethnic groups from several of these nations have been at war with one another–often a disturbingly brutal war. Which groups in which nations are fighting and why? So Bosnian Serbs are fighting Bosnian Muslims…? Albanian Kosovars are fighting from independence from which country…? Croatian Serbs are fighting against someone…for what? Since the ’90s one war in the region seems to have followed the other, with no apparent end. In this overview we’re going to try to make sense of some of this recent history. Though, unfortunately, we’ll never be able make sense of the depth of distaste various ethnic groups in the region demonstrated for each other during the unrest, especially after having lived in relative peace with one another for hundreds of years.
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