In Search of Osterc

  • Borut Loparnik

Abstract

The iconological model and the combinatorics of stylistic definitions used in Slovenia since the beginning of 1960s to elucidate the work as well as the life of Slavko Osterc have obliterated the reality of the composer's work and even more his aesthetically inconsistent and psyhologically ambiguous habitus. What he is supposed to have done within his native and the European context along the avant-gardist lines is on analysis revealed to have been a wide spectrum of compositional techniques and ways of neo-Classicistic (anti-Romantic) thinking. Already as a self-taught musician (1918-1925) he was attracted to these techniques and ways of thinking by his fundamental mental and aesthetic inclination. He sharpened and completed them during his Prague studies (1925-1927), and his subsequent maturing as artist formed them into an evident personal compositional modus and into stylist awareness lacking any theoretically clear stylistic system. That the Slovene environment adopted such an orientation and that it understood it as "revolutionary" (avant-garde) is to be attributed to the psychological and aesthetic inhibitions felt by this environment between the two Wars and to the many difficulties and great resistance when adapting itself to the new European music. The receptive capability of the environment could not clearly perceive the musical nature and sense of Osterc's novelties. He was judged according to his "revolutionary" (verbal) phraseology his ideological-militant attitude towards tradition and according to numerous psychological (bohemian, antibourgeois) characteristics displayed and emphasized. But since in doing this he was exceptionlly penetrating, organizationally capable, and since in the 1930s he opened for himself the door of numerous foreign concert podiums, and, moreover, in response to the public opinion at home formed the first Slovene compositional school (for which he was hoping it would grow into an ideationaly firm circle of similar minds), he met upon his death with the characteristic fate of avant-gardists. His designs and his work were for a good two decades covered up by the collective amnesia; it was only the generation of young composers who around 1960 raised him as (their) cult figure of the native aesthetic progress, and on this basis he was through the (promotive) help of the iconologic model turned into an idealized personality of Slovene music of the 20th century.

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Published
1995-12-01
How to Cite
LoparnikB. (1995). In Search of Osterc. Musicological Annual, 31(1), 81-90. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.31.1.81-90
Section
Articles