The Problem of Style as Interpreted by Stanko Vurnik


  • Kristijan Ukmar



Stanko Vurnik was an art historian and ethnologist by profession. However, he soon became active in the field of musical criticism and musicology. As a student of the school of the Slovene art historian Izidor Cankar he felt a special affinity towards the problems of style. He thought that the only possible way of treating historical matter was to consider it from the view-point of style. Following the example of I. Cankar, he wrote »An Introduction to Music« where he presented a systematic survey of musical style. He also intended to write a survey of the historical development of music, but, unfortunately, his treatise never developed further than an initial fragment. Vurnik's interpretation of style is primarily based upon the system of style as conceived in plastic art by Cankar and on the psychological and normative foundations of aesthetics by France Veber. In this way Vurnik tried to create his own concept of musical style by combining both mentioned sources and considering all that is specific in music. Unfortunately, he quite overlooked the fact that the results of the investigations made by Cankar refer to the work of art while those by Veber are concerned with the subject. Consequently he was not aware that a simple combination of both of them is not possible. Hence the lack of clarity in his thoughts. Despite these facts we must acknowledge that his stylistic analysis of musical elements is of relatively great significance. However, Vurnik amended and supplemented his conception of style in the fragment of his later study on the historical development of music. Vurnik's work is significant as he was the first in Slovenia to draw attention to the problem of style in music. In this way he exerted an influence on later investigators of this problem. Vurnik also succeeded in transferring his conception to the field of ethnomusicology and, through his criticism, made indirect influence on the development of musical activity in Slovenia.


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How to Cite

Ukmar, K. (1967). The Problem of Style as Interpreted by Stanko Vurnik. Musicological Annual, 3(1), 77–88.