Slavko Osterc (A Contribution to his Biography)


  • Danilo Pokorn



In this article, the author gives an outline of the life of the composer Slavko Osterc, one of the central figures in Slovene music of the 20th century. The way in which Osterc stepped into the centre of Slovene musical development from an out-lying district of Slovenia, was in itself an exceptional phenomenon. He was born on June 17th 1895, the son of a farmer living in Veržej, an old market town in north-eastern Slovenia. He became a school-teacher and for a long time up to his thirtieth year, composed as a self-taught man but still confidently and boldly. The successes of these works, mostly performed at Celje and Maribor, at last brought him at the age of thirty the opportunity to further his musical education with studies abroad. The two years he spent at the Conservatory in Prague, where he was influenced most by Karel Boleslav Jirák and Alois Hába, strictly speaking make up the whole of his normal musical training. After the diploma in Prague, he returned to Ljubljana and for the fourteen years which remained to him, he was active as professor at the Conservatory there. He introduced into Slovene music the radical ideas to which contemporary European music of that time was orientated. These developments which he had become acquainted with and absorbed during his schooling in Prague were the stylistic characteristics of neo-baroque and neo-classicism, constructivism, atonality and athematic style, absolute chromaticism and also quarter-tone composition. Such music aethetics being entirely new to Slovene music caused a very sharp split of opinions. Osterc accepted the struggle for the new and with all his energy and temperament persisted in this to his death, indefatigably working as composer, teacher of the younger generation, writer on music, critic and music organizor. In the period before the 2nd World War Osterc was undoubtedly the composer who most explicitly represented Yugoslav music in the international sphere. He died before his 46th birthday on 23rd May, 1941, in Ljubljana.


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How to Cite

Pokorn, D. (1969). Slavko Osterc (A Contribution to his Biography). Musicological Annual, 5(1), 83–91.