Historical Avant-garde in Slovene Music


  • Ivan Klemenčič




To start with, the study examines the underlying causes for the emergence of avant-gardes, which were unforeseen till the first decades of the 20th century. They were triggered off at that time by the revolutionary changes and reconstruction of fundamental categories relating to the world, society, man, and above all art. In relation to these progressive tendencies throughout Europe, Slovene music was particularly conditioned by the Slovene nationalist movement starting in the middle of the 19th century. It was maintained that art should be utilitarian, designed primarily in order to assist the formation of the national conscience; this meant a caesure in natural development, and a need to start all over again, both as regards musical institutions and creativity. After Slovene music had started to catch up with music development in Europe in the 20th century, it lived to see the emergence of two avant-garde movements between the two wars, the first one, inter-artistic (started in 1920), with the composer Marij Kogoj and his circle as the main protagonists, and the second, international (shortly after the beginning of the 1930's), with Slavko Osterc and his students of composition (especially Franc Štrum), as well as with connections with Prague (particularly with Alois Hába), and a prominent share in the Société internationale de musique contemporaine. On account of the peculiar circumstances conditioned by the art doctrine of the nationalist movement, the two avant-gardes were not as radical as one would expect them to be. They only just had to win for themselves the possibility to create autonomous art which, in turn, made possible revolutionizing of the spirit, bringing art into service of this new spirit. In this way, the supertemporal character of expressionism turned into an instrument for the aesthelic revaluation. The first avant-garde group insisted on juxtaposing the aesthetic beauty of romanticism as one of the values of the bourgeois society with the "truthfulness" of expressionism, partly still in its pre-atonal high stage. Thus it was only the second avant-garde group that managed to accomplish total aesthetic revaluation by way of a theoretical switch-over to the non-mimetic atonality. Together with publicistic activity, especially through criticism and polemical writing (e.g. in the short-lived magazine called Trije labodje, published by the first group), this brought about intellectual and moral revaluation, along with rudiments of socio-political revaluation (manifested not only with the second group). By dint of winning the privilege of a free artistic expression (particularly owing to some of their principal protagonists), the two movements have stood to impart a relatively high artistic value of durable character to this tendency in music, giving in this way conceptual as well as moral support to the Slovene avant-garde movement of the 1960's.


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How to Cite

Klemenčič, I. (1986). Historical Avant-garde in Slovene Music. Musicological Annual, 22(1), 21–28. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.22.1.21-28