Towards the Identity and Infancy of Marij Kogoj


  • Ivan Klemenčič



The question of the identity of the Slovene composer Marij Kogoj has remained open for a long time. Only recently P. Merku's research revealed that the composer, hitherto known as Marij Kogoj, born April 27, 1895, died as an eight-month old baby – whereas his brother Julij, born September 20, 1892, remained alive. Evidence has been found that Julij is in fact the composer, only that he was renamed after the dead Marij and on that occasion his brother's, i. e. Marij's date of birth – 1895 – had been entered into the registrar. This, in itself, appears to solve the question of the composer's identity. Difficulties, however, appear when the new date of birth – 1892 – is to be brought into agreement with the composer's other biographic data, especially those regarding his schooling formerly in agreement with the old date. The present research seeks to establish relevant comparisons. The checking was directed at the composer's documents on his attending the Gorizia Gymnasium and the Vienna Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst, where the data-tolerance is even greater. Even more clearly came the new date of birth out in the course of examining the data about the composer's elementary education, collected by the author from oral evidence of Kogoj 's schoolfellows and concluded from the fact that three of the Kogoj children-orphans came to Kanal, after they had been – after their father's death – deserted by their mother. It appears unlikely that the boy's guardians should not have sent him to school until after he was eight years old (considering that compulsory education started with the age of six), especially because the orphans seem to have arrived to Kanal from Triest two years earlier. Considering other evidence as well as the fact that the composer entered elementary school in the autumm of 1900, the only conclusion feasible is that the composer was born at a later date, sometime in the years 1894-95. Another unclear point is the baptism certificate issued in 1906. The hitherto existing Julij received a certificate reading the name of Marij Kogoj with the date 1895; the argument of the issuer, the Parochial Archives of St. Anthony of Padova in Triest, was that Julij is dead and that Marij is still alive. The guardians at Kanal had thus renamed Julij into Marij. All this being rather unusual, yet another fact comes as a surprise: the birth and death books in the same archives give proof to the opposite: Julij is alive, whereas Marij is dead. Because of deficient sources it has been necessary to leave the question of the exact date and the identity of the composer open. The most recently collected information from oral communication strongly suggest the possibility that the composer did not belong to the Kogoj family at all but to the Sevnik family from Gradež near Turjak, where the composer's wife came from. The documentation is, unfortunately, more or less destroyed. It appears, however, that the composer was aware of the whole issue and that he himself regarded himself as belonging to the Sevnik family. The author of the article has tried, but with no success so far, to document the whole matter. His attempt at confronting what is known about Kogoj with the Sevnik variant has solved some unlogical points maintained so far but has, on the other hand, opened new problems. All things considered the author suggests that the composer should for the time being remain Marij Kogoj, with the birth-data April 27, 1895, with the postscript, that neither his identity nor the exact date of birth have been hitherto difinitely established.


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How to Cite

Klemenčič, I. (1978). Towards the Identity and Infancy of Marij Kogoj. Musicological Annual, 14(1), 88–105.