The Lieder of Petar Konjović


  • Zijo Kučukalić



Petar Konjović represents one of the outstanding personalities among those Serbian composers who were at the beginning of the 20th century announcing the end of romanticism in Serbia. In accordance with his aesthetic principles he raised Serbian 19th century musical nationalism to a higher level enriching it with specific late romantic traits. Konjović's lieder were composed between 1903 and 1925. From time to time he published them, separately or in groups, but the most important ones were issued later, in a collection entitled "Lyrics". This collection comprises twenty-four compositions which represent the summit of the late romantic lied in Serbia. Only for a short period did Konjović abandon nationalism, the most characteristic feature of the Serbian romantic lied, and paid tribute to the international style of contemporary European music. Soon he returned to his former views, so that his whole subsequent compositional activity in the field of the lied was nationally oriented. However, it should be emphasized that he succeded in amalgamating technical developments of late European romanticism with the characteristics of the vernacular musical tradition. He proceeded from the text, considering it an integral part of every vocal-instrumental composition. A musical treatment of the text was for Konjović of basic importance, for only an adequate plasticity of sound of the words sung could adequately express the spirit and characteristics of the poetic verse. He insisted upon an equilibrium between the text and the melodic line. In poetry he sought and found inspiration for his melodical designs from which the piano accompaniment resulted, as an instrumental interpreter of the textual characteristics. As regards expression and compositional technique Konjović's lieder show all the traits of late romanticism. These are reflected in the nearly exclusive application of the through-composed form and its coherent structure, in expressive and chromaticly rich melodies, in the rhythmical structure, always in keeping with the metrical subtleties of the text, in harmony which has become of equal expressive importance as the melody, and last but not least, in the complete individualization of the piano part. Nevertheless, it is Konjović's harmonic language that most powerfully "carries" the effect of the poetic text and most imposingly characterizes the stylistic physiognomy of his compositions. Digressions from the tonal centre, weakened harmonic functions within a given tonality, rich use of "external" (dominant and subdominant) harmonies, chromatic and enharmonic modulations etc. are typical late romantic traits of the harmonic structure of Konjović's lieder.


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How to Cite

Kučukalić, Z. (1974). The Lieder of Petar Konjović. Musicological Annual, 10(1), 15–26.