Croatian Pop and Folk MusicDarko Zubrinic, Zagreb (1995)
age is known by its music
Ivo Robic (1923-2000), a famous Croatian pop singer who made the German song "Morgen" a hit in Europe and in the USA. At the Zagreb Music Conservatoire he studied piano, clarinet, saxophone, flute, and double bass, and was lauded by his teachers as a musical prodigy. For Germany's Polydor Record Co he first cut "Morgen" in 1959, and in a few weeks the "Morgen" climbed to Germany's top songs. It was sold in more than a million of copies (half a million in the USA!), so it is not surprising that he was nicknamed "Mr Morgen". In 1959/60 he obtained the statue of Bronze Lion from the Radio Luxemburg, and in 1961 the Silver Lion for his song Mit 17 fängt das Leben erst an. Besides his native Croatian, Ivo Robic spoke and sang in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and English. He and his wife Marta donated their house in Icici near Opatija to the Rijeka Archbihsopric, and it now serves as a parish church.
Ivo Robic was a guest star in some prestigeous USA programs: Perry Como Show of NBC, the Ed Sullivan Show, the Dick Clark Show, etc. With his "Morgen" he left behind on american top lists such stars like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Paul Anka and Dean Martin.
Ivo Robic on YouTube:
Guy Mitchell (1927-1999), American singer of Croatian roots (Albert George Cernik) "Singing the Blues"
Tony Butala the lead singer of the THE LETTERMEN is of Croatian descent
During my visit to Dublin, Ireland, in 2000, with the King of Dolls,
we were told by our hosts, Irish missionaries who had their school in
Timor Island in South-East Asia, that they are teaching children a
"Yugoslav" song there. When we asked them sing this song, we
immediately recognized that it was in fact a very popular and beautiful
Croatian folk song O, more duboko (Oh, Deep Sea) from the region of Dalmatia.
In 1963, Malka Marom from Israel and Joso Špralja from Croatia formed the singing duo Malka & Joso. For the next four and half years, they sang folk songs of many lands in fourteen languages - well above ground: in Yorkville’s coffee houses, college campuses, supper clubs, radio and TV and Capitol recordings. In their repertoire they had Israeli and and Croatian songs as well. Malka & Joso have recorded four albums. Malka & Joso Forever, a CD retrospective of their songs was released by EMI in 2001 to rave reviews.Ivica Percl's song Stari Pjer - Old Pierre - interpreted by Greek singer Nana Mouskouri in German and French
Tomislav Ivcic (1953-1993), a famous Croatian singer, is best known for his songs Večeras je naša fešta and Stop the War in Croatia:
Don't ever cry, by the Croatian band Put (Path), at the European Song Contest in 1993:
Nostalgija, Lidija Horvat Dunjko and Magazin band with Danijela Martinovic, Croatian song performed at European Song Contest in 1995:
Sveta ljubav (Sacred Love), Maja Blagdan, Croatian song at the European Song Contest in 1996:Luciano Pavarotti & Friends: Together for the Children of Bosnia (Modena, Italy, 1995), with participation of Croatian composer Nenad Bach, New York, with his tune Can We Go Higher? - [mp3].
In 1999 Croatian pop singer Tereza Kesovija received an important French recognition Chevalier des Arts et Lettres for contributions to culture. On behalf of the French president Jacques Chirac it was presented by Jean-Jacques Gaillarde, French Ambassador in Croatia. She is known in Croatia and France for her promotion of the French chanson. At the Grand Prix Eurovision Contest held in 1966 she represented Monaco.
Tereza will be remembered also for her numerous humanitarian concerts during the 1991-1995 aggression on Croatia, held not only in her homeland, but also in central Bosnia (in Nova Bila). Her house in native Konavle near the City of Dubrovnik was ravaged by Serbian and Montenegrin troops. Very rich personal archives and valuable concert piano were burnt down.
Dunja Rajter (Dunja Reiter) is a well known Croatian singer and actress living in Germany. She was very much involved in humanitarian help to her homeland during the Greater-Serbian aggression in 1991-1995.
Dunja Rajter (photo by dpa)
She was the only European singer invited by Harry Belafonte to his american TV-Show where she appeared by such artists like Paul Newmann, Bill Cosby, Diahann Carroll and by Senator Robert Kennedy. Also the French public knows her from very popular Tele dimanche and from the Midi` Magazin.
Radojka Šverko is one of the greatest female singers that Croatia ever had. Except in Croatia she had concerts in Rio de Janeiro, Tokio, Seul, Athens, Puerto Rico, Caracas, Los Angeles, New York, Kopenhagen, etc. She is known for her beautiful interpretations of Croatian songs and such classics like The Shadow of Your Smile, Amazing Grace, The Automn Leaves, Bridge Over Troubled Water etc, see here.
Professor Balthazar, Zagreb, is a trademark of Croatia, a familiar and beloved figure throughout the world, especially among children:
Balt - Balthazar, Balt - Balthazar, Balthazaaar!
Listen to the Professor Balthazar Theme Song composed by Tomica Simović, Zagreb:
In 1989 the Croatian pop music group Riva from the city of Zadar has won the European song contest held in Lausanne. Thanks to this great international success of Croatian pop music, the city of Zagreb, hosted the Eurovision song contest in 1990.
Nenad Bach is a recording artist, composer, and performer who has recorded for Sony, Polygram and many other labels. Two of his albums reached No. 1 in Europe, and to date he has sold over one million records.
In addition, he has performed all over the world with a wide range of artists, including ‘Luciano Pavarotti’, ‘Bono’& ‘The Edge’ (U2), ‘Brian Eno’, Indigo Girls, Richie Havens, Garth Hudson & Grateful Dead), ‘Martin Sheen’, ‘Michael York’, ‘John Malkovich’, ‘Ellen Burstyn’, and many more. He performed at Woodstock '94, and in 1998 he made a compilation album with ‘Bruce Springsteen’, ‘Leonard Cohen’ and ‘Allen Ginsberg’.
In March 1999, Nenad opened the Miss Universe pageant in Europe with his new song "Miss Universe". Through his singing and songwriting Nenad's goal is to spread the message of joy and universal peace. For more information see here and Can We Go Higher?.
constant desire is to
awaken the modern ear through our collective memory
Finally, Nenad is also a record producer with a special interest in documenting the fascinating but little-known musical traditions of his homeland, Croatia. His most recent work includes the production of three new a cappella albums: "Fire on the Sea", by Klapa Fortunal; "Following the Cross", a collection of Lenten chants based on 600-year-old Gregorian Chants never previously recorded; and just released "Novaljo, Novaljo", by Klapa Navalia.
Cedomir Antolic, distinguished Croatian spiritual singer, composer and songwriter
Bruno Krajcar, distinguished Croatian ethno-jazz-rock composer and singer
Tamara Obrovac: My approach towards music went from jazz standards, through my own compositions, to my finding of an original expression by connecting the language of the folk music of my homeland (Istria, Croatia) with the rhythms and improvisation typical for jazz, so jazz is my freedom and my roots are my inner truth.
Maja Blagdan is an excellent Croatian pop singer.
Very brilliant rock guitarist of international reputation is Damir Simic - Shime.
Miljenko Matijević, amazing Croatian-American rock singer and frontman of Steelheart rock band
Oliver Dragojević, distinguished Croatian pop musician
Zlatan Stipisic Gibonni, Croatian songwriter and singer, was elected as UNICEF's Goodwill ambassador in 2003. He is godfather of the Music school for children in Pakrac, a town terribly destroyed during 1990-1995 Greater Serbian aggression on Croatia.
Winner of the first Junior European Song Contest (J-ESC) held in Copenhagen, 2003, was 11 years old Dino Jelusic. He wrote the lyrics and music for his winning song Ti si moja prva ljubav (You are my first love). The initiative for organizing the the European Song Contest for children (J-ESC) came from Croatia.
Dina Rizvić, young Croatian singer, composer, piano player and guitarist
2 CELLOS - duo of global fame, founded by Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic.
LORDE, authentic new star on the horizon, has Croatian roots on her mother's side
Ines Tričković, Croatian jazz singer
Mia Negovetić, Croatian singer
Frano Živković, Croatian guitarist
In Croatian folk music very original type of music can be heard on Croatian islands (primarily on Krk, Rab, Cres), region of Vinodol, Kastav and in Istria, based on the famous Istrian scale, sounding "out of tune". Specific way of singing is accompanied by a wind instrument called sopele (or sopile), often linked with church holidays and patron saints. Sopile have a very penetrating sound. See
Sopile are important in many situations (from Zasopimo sopile by a famous sopile player Ivan Radic, Matica hrvatska, Rijeka 1995):
What is Istrian scale can be recognized from tuning of a pair of sopile (deep and high voice, or big and small sopela: vela i mala sopela; the Istrian scale is with toni stretti, or in Croatian - ljestvica tijesnih intervala; information by mr. Ivan Pavacic):
Here we have indeed C## (cisis). Note that we have six pairs of big secunda's.
Source of the photo: Melodije Istre i Kvarnera
In Croatian music literature, the Istrian scale is also sometimes called the scale of 'narow intervals' (tijesni intervali; Ruza Bonifacic, Zagreb). Here is a famous Croatian song "Vrbniče nad morem" (Vrbnik Over the Sea), sung by Vrbenske kanturice school choir in Vrbnik, in the original way using narrow intervals:
Vrbniče nad morem
(the town of Vrbnik on the island of Krk, Croatia): Ana Vadnov, Miriam
Volarić, Mara Vadnov, Mariza Renčić, Dina Antić, Iris Magaš i Veronika
Jurešić. Zasopli su
na sopeli učitelj Ivan Pavačić i Ivo Volarić. Vrbenske kanturice su bile svečano
odjevene u tesnek.
Even more amazing in its expressiveness and power is a very primitive way of singing called ganga, widespread in mountain regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and also in southern parts of Croatia (rera, ojkavica). It is interesting that Ankica Petrovic defended her doctoral thesis about ganga singing at the Queens University in Belfast where she was a student of John Blacking. See
Istarski gunjci (bajsisti) - gunjac (bajs) is a violoncello like instrument with two strings, played in Istria.
"Bajsi u Dragucu", 2005: Ottavio
Stokavac (violin) and Marko
Melodije Istre i Kvarnera (Melodies of Istria and Kvarner): 2006, 07, 08
In music probably the most original contribution is the tamburitza, the Croatian national string instrument and one of the hallmarks of Croatia. The orchestral tamburitza play started in Osijek in 1847. Our folk music is very popular among the Croatian diaspora. There exist hundreds of tamburitza ensembles among Croatian emigrants throughout the world.
Visit my web-pages devoted to
The first tamburitza concert in the USA was held as early as in 1900 in the Carnegie Hall in New York. That same year the American Croats were invited to the White House to play for the president Theodor Roosevelt. In 1902 the first Croatian choir Zora (Dawn) in the USA was founded In 1960 the Croats in Pittsburgh founded the Tamburitza Philharmonic Orchestra, which had 75 players.
orchestra "Zivila Hrvatska" (Long
Live Croatia), USA,
Over the past several decades only in the USA several hundred tamburitza orchestras were active, with more than 5,000 players. At this moment The Youth Federation of Tamburitza Players in the USA comprises 44 orchestras. Its rich activity is mainly due to the fruitful efforts of the Croatian Fraternal Union (CFU) (Hrvatska bratska zajednica) and its president Bernard Luketich in Pittsburgh. Except in Croatia and the USA, numerous tamburitza orchestras exist among Croatian diaspora in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Scandinavia, South African Republic, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and elsewhere.
I express my deep gratitude to Mr Vladimir Novak for permission to use the above beautiful photo from his collection, and the following one (Croats from Lika, Gorski Kotar and Hercegovina, during their stay in Burnett, Washington, in 1919):
Tamburica links in Austria:
Here is an interesting
excerpt from Tamburitza Music And The Tamburitza
by Karen White:
The above mentioned monograph about Tamburitza is:
Kolar, Walter W., An Introduction to Croatian Musical Folklore, (Tamburitza) Pittsburgh, PA 1981
Croats in Punta Arenas, Chile
(Magallanes region), with their tamburitzas
The oldest known Croatian tamburitza orchestra in Johannesburg, South Africa, was founded in 1902 (information by Mr. Ivo Lusic, S. Africa).
It is not widely known that Leo Fender, a famous builder of rock guitars (Fender Stratocaster), used the shape of a Croatian tamburitza head (more precisely, of the so called "brac" or "bas-prim", see below) for his characteristic guitar head. This was a result of Leo's acquaintance with a Croatian room-mate in his student days, who was a tamburitza player. Information by Nenad Bach, who mentioned this this story on his CD "I love losers" (...Leo Fender mentioned in an interview for Musician magazine that he was inspired by the headstock of the tamburitza when he designed the Fender Stratocaster...). And every song on the CD is accompanied with the tamburitza play. Listen to his Can We Go Higher?.
For those wishing to know more about our folk music, we can recommend to read also
Jerry Grcevich, USA, is outstanding performer of Croatian tamburitza music, one of the best players of today. He is the 2005 NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) National Heritage Fellowship awardee (lifetime honour).
...I didn't separate American music from Croatian music. It was all music to me... My dad taught me a little bit until he got frustrated with me, then my uncle taught me. My grandfathers played, too, both of them and taught me some. They brought the instruments over from Croatia... When I was growing up we would go to Croatian dances and make new friends, friends that remained friends for a lifetime. A lot of men meet their fiancees through Croatian churches and social functions, and at the tamburitza festivals. Of course, the music was a big part of all of that...Keeping the tradition alive is a part of our life, too. Traditions have a tendency to die faster in the country where they are from. We have a natural tendency outside the country to want to preserve our culture because we're away from it. It was something that we held on to dearly because it came from our parents and grandparents...
An outstanding member of the Croatian Fraternal Union (the USA) was Rudy Perpich (1928-1995), a late Governor of Minnesota.
TARARA is the name for Croats used by Maories in New Zealand. The origin of the name of Tarara is most probably related to singing a melody without words, using rhytmical pattern Ta-ra-ra... Dalmatian Croats are known for their passionate love of music. According to late Ljubo Stipišić Delmata, in Croatia there are about 400 klapa choirs. This is a unique phenomenon of Croatian music, and not only Croatian.
It seems that the melody for the famous Hawaiian song ALOHA OE might be based on a Croatian folk song, as indicated in HAWAII MAGAZINE, August 1996, p 41. The folk song in question is Sidi Mara na kamen studencu from Srijem, whose melody is very close to ALOHA OE.
Hand in hand with folk music go the national costumes and dances in which one can see such a rich source of creativeness and imagination that are simply impossible to describe in a short essay like this. See
LADO is the National Folk Ensemble of Croatia, founded in 1949. In the course of the first 60 years of its existence, i.e. till 2009, it had more than 5000 concerts in 48 countries in all parts of the Globe. It is composed of 34 brilliant dancers, who are also excellent singers, and of 14 superb musicians who play some fifty different traditional and classical instruments. LADO is often called a "Dancing Museum" due to valuable collection of more than 1200 costumes, some of them over a centry old. The repertoire consists of more than 100 coreographies. The ensemble had intercontinental tours to South America, North America, Asia, Africa, and Australia, and had concerts in the following major world cities: Paris, London, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Moscow, Rome, Madrid, Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm, Athens, Zurich, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Burssels, Tel Aviv, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, New York, New Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, Kobe, Sapporo, etc. LADO has recorded a large number of CDs, documentaries and musical films.
When in 1973 LADO performed in New York, Anna Kisselgoff wrote that their performance "...was the best of folklore that New York has ever seen". In 2006, when this Croatian ensemble had one month tour in Japan, than one of Japanese admirers wrote in the guest book the following: "...If I could be born again, I would be born in Croatia and I would dance with LADO." In 2009 LADO has issued a superb monograph in Zagreb, LADO Hrvatsko nacionalno blago (LADO Croatian national heritage) in parallel Croatian and English.
The entire, very rich collection of national costumes held in Vukovar was destroyed during the Greater Serbian destruction of the city in 1991. The city of Split helped to reconstruct the Vukovar collection.
I like very much LINDJO, traditional dance from Dubrovnik environs - Konavle:
Stjepan Veckovic is a founder of the Croatian Bagpipe Orchestra. Bagpipes are usually associated to Ireland and Scotland, but Croatian bagpipe tradition is much older. An International Bagpipe Festival is organized annualy in the village of Mihovljan near Zagreb. According to Mr. Veckovic, there is no country in the world that could compete Croatia in the variety of traditional national musical instruments.
Peruvian music is not the subject of this web page, but if you are Peruvian, Spanish, Catalonian or Croatian, don't miss to see Kristian Krekovic and his gallery in Palma de Mallorca (Museu Krekovic), opened by the Spanish Queen Sophia in 1981.
The Collection of Mechanical Music Automata of Ivan Gerersdorfer, Zagreb
Vuprem oči is Croatian traditional song very popular in France.
Department for History of Croatian Music, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
References related to national costumes and customs:
Goran Pelaić: www.croatianpopmusic.com
References related to Croatian music:
Croatian Classical Music, 10th-19th centuries
Croatian Classical Music, 20th-21st centuries
Bunjevci Croats in Backa
Croatia - overview of its History, Culture and Science