Kogoj's Incidental Music »In the Kingdom of the Dwarfs«


  • Ivan Klemenčič




The incidental music to the children's play »In the Kingdom of the Dwarfs« by Josip Ribičič is up to now little known and still unpublished. It is the work of Marij Kogoj (1895–1956), a Slovene expressionist composer. The composition, which has been preserved in its entirety was commissioned by the author about 1923 and contains ten musical sections for children's choir, solo voices, piano and flute. It is based on a psychologically founded text with a conflict between the fairy-tale world of dwarfs and a child in it, who yearning for its mother and freedom, succeeds, after various adventures, in returning to the human world. Although the performance is very exacting, the composer made a light approach to the subject matter and took into account the limits of children's musical perception. So he decided on less radical, neo-romantic musical media and aesthetics, yet giving to both his own personal stamp and even surpassing them in original expression. Hence we can explain why tonal relations prevail in the composition despite some freedom; why in individual sections a melodic structure with a chordal foundation prevails and which is polymelodically ramified; from where comes only partially complicated and mostly syncopated rhytmic and polyrhytmic interweaving; and why there is this formal freedom within the framework of motivic structure with an obvious tendency to rounded-off forms. Within the given limits the composer proceeds from less firmly developed and more conventional sections to original, concise and crystally purified musical idiom. In content the composition extends from joy, high spirits, archness and a more intimate mirth, characterised by purity and an etheral quality, lightness and longing to sorrow and melancholia and other darker contrasts which all move within the framework of lyricism. In places where more than a mere musical background was needed, the composer came near to his successful, though simpler children's songs. The most successful sections grew into compressed lieder whereas other traits in this incidental music already forecast the later great opera »Black Masks«. This work is a result of the composer's mature period, slightly less advanced in style and not quite balanced but on the whole an interesting and valuable composition, expressive and convincing in its details.


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How to Cite

Klemenčič, I. (1971). Kogoj’s Incidental Music »In the Kingdom of the Dwarfs«. Musicological Annual, 7(1), 53–68. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.7.1.53-68