Slovenian Music in its Central European Context: the 20th-century experience


  • Niall O'Loughlin



Slovenia has had a rich and varied musical histoiy, despite the fact that it was part of the Habsburg Empire and then a constituent part of Yugoslavia. Its recent smooth transition to independence and its realignment with Central Europe have been noteworthy. In the past, Slovene or part-Slovene composers such as Gallus, Tartini and Wolf worked abroad, while in the 20th century composers normally returned to Slovenia after studying abroad. For example, Marij Kogoj and Slavko Osterc studied in Central Europe and maintained a strong musical connection with Central European modernism in the 1920s and 1930s. Kogoj's strong links with Viennese expressionism were well expressed in the opera Črne maskeof 1927, while Osterc's connections with Hindemith, Honegger and others is evident in the opera Krog s kredo and orchestral works such as Mouvement symphonique. On the other hand, Kozina, Arnič and Škerjanc developed a less advanced style and kept less contact with the rest of Europe. The political situation in the 1940s and 1950s made outside travel difficult, changing the situation dramatically. Composers such as Ramovš and Uroš Krek had different experiences: Ramovš managed to study with Frazzi and Casella in Italy, while Krek did not study abroad. Both, however, produced works in a distinctive neo-classical style that typified the immediate post-war period. Ivo Petrić's music follows the styles of Prokofiev and Shostakovich. From the late 1950s onwards  the situation  changed  with  strong contacts with Croatia, Poland and countries of the West: France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States in particular. This contact encouraged the emergence of a new avant-garde in Slovenia in the 1960s with such composers as Petrić, Ramovš, Lebič, Jež, Božič, Matičič, Globokar, Stibilj and Štuhec coming into prominence. Later they were joined by Pavel Mihelčič and Maks Strmčnik. Matičič and Globokar mostly stayed abroad, while Stibilj returned permanently later. In the decades before and after independence in 1991, a new generation of composers became established, with the most advanced composition by Aldo Kumar, Uroš Rojko, Tomaž Svete, Brina Jež-Brezavšček and Nenad Firšt. Postmodern tendencies are found in the music of Jani Golob and Marko Mihevc. Ali these composers are providing the Slovene musical scene with a wide variety of distinctive music that is both challenging and interesting.


Download data is not yet available.



1. 12. 2004 — Updated on 17. 12. 2021




How to Cite

O'Loughlin, N. (2021). Slovenian Music in its Central European Context: the 20th-century experience. Musicological Annual, 40(1-2), 267-276.