On the Question of Osterc's Views on Composition


  • Katarina Bedina




Slavko Osterc entered into the centre of Slovene musical life as a revolutionary, as a champion of modern, world art trends and as the leading personality in the struggle for the introduction of contemporary principles of composition into the music of our contry. He devoted all his endeavours in art and in the field of criticism to this end. He found in the written word a more immediate means for affirming contemporary works of composition before a wide audience, and for removing those elements in Slovene musical life which impeded this affirmation. As a follower of absolute music, athematic and atonal style, he soon came up against resistance and negative appreciation from the critics who published their reviews in the various papers, representing different political standpoints. They reproached him for lack of invention and feeling, cold constructivism, his striving for originality at any cost, for his destructive revolutionary style and so on. These attacks, however could not weaken Osterc's addiction to contemporary music, but instead he ever consolidated his attachment to new paths in music: in composition he gave preference to intellect and not to emotion, to form and not to content; in his judgements he emphasized that the strict major-minor system was out-of-date, as were orchestral painting, Wagnerian dramatics, sensibility and dramatic tremo-loes; and so he stressed his affinity to new and bold harmonic progressions, to grotesque, to caricature, starkness, asceticism of emotion and to contrapunctal treatment especially in his longer works. Being convinced that for new content we must also find new musical forms, corresponding to contemporary idiom, he thought that an original solution of the formal problem is the first condition for every important composition. In his opinion, old proven traditional forms, whether in chamber, symphonic or operatic music, are incompatible with the expression of a new content. In this fact Osterc also saw the main reason, on the one hand, for the rather small contemporary output of symphonic and operatic works, and, on the other hand, for the varied chamber work production, because its small setting is most appropriate for the search for new possibilities in form and content. Thus in his creative work he devoted special care to chamber music. At the same time he stimulated those who were just beginning to employ contemporary composition techniques to discover further new ways, and encouraged those who had not yet decided on modernism to attempt such new techniques. He endeavoured to attract young composers to the ranks of our avantgarde so that they might attain the level of European development and then take an equal part in it.


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1. 12. 1968




How to Cite

Bedina, K. (1968). On the Question of Osterc’s Views on Composition. Musicological Annual, 4(1), 114-119. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.4.1.114-119