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Remembering Jovan Jovičić (1926-2013)

Posted By Connie Sheu, Thursday, October 17, 2013

Jovan Jovičić (1926-2013)

by Uroš Dojčinović

Dr. Jovan Jovičić, Serbian physicist and musician, was without any doubt among the greatest ex-Yugoslav guitar pioneers of the twentieth century. Thanks to him, a large part of the creative and interpretive music work being done today in these Balkan area is focused on the expressive possibilities of the classic guitar. On the 26th of September this great artist and scientist moved onto eternity.

Jovan Jovičić was born on July 5, 1926, in Vrdnik, a little town in Vojvodina, in the northern part of Serbia. His parents helped with his musical education in his early childhood when Jovan first started to play the violin. But like many others, young Jovičić soon changed his attention to the guitar, which was very popular in those times. He attended public schools and finally became a professor of physics at the University of Belgrade. Nevertheless, his love for the guitar was so great that through his talent and constant practicing, he managed to teach himself to play this instrument very well, at the beginning using an old Carulli guitar method, the only didactic publication he could find. Then, at the end of sixties, he joined the master classses of Andres Segovia, at the famous Chigiana Music Academy in Siena (Italy). In 1961 he completed his studies with maestro Segovia, who predicted an extraordinary success for Jovičić, both in his concert career and his musical profession in general. Holding a Ph.D in physics, Jovan Jovičić later published many scientific works, some related especially to the acoustic properties of the guitar affecting the resonance and tone of the instrument. One interesting result of these studies can be read in the notable Acustica magazine (No.18, 1967: J. Jovičić "Spectres sonores de la guitare de concert”; also used in John Taylor’s book "Tone Production on the Classical Guitar”, Musical New Services, London,1978), where he reports the results of his comparison of guitars of different makes, different soundboard materials, etc.

Jovičić’s concert activity began in 1948 by giving the first live concerts at Radio Dubrovnik and Radio Belgrade. Those were the first productions in our country in which the guitar was introduced as a real solo classical instrument. The repertoire Jovičić performed in those live broadcastings covered the large range of the guitar pieces, from the Renaissance and Baroque up to contemporary compositions. So from 1948 he was already an established soloist on radio and television in Belgrade, whose magnificent interpretations at that time could be even heard outside the country. In 1957 Jovičić was the laureate of the international youth competition in Moscow, and after winning the Silver medal he continued to give recitals and broadcasts in many countries.

The first international tours included Greece (1954), West Germany, Belgium and Italy (1955), France (1956), Egypt (1959), Romania (1964), Hungary and Poland (1965), and so on... During his active performing career, Jovičić gave over 2500 concerts throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, and played in almost every Yugoslavian city. Especially in Sixties and Seventies the enchanting sounds of his guitar were unanimously greeted by stormy applause and endless encores in crowded halls such as the Tchaikovsky and Glinka grand halls in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Dvorak hall in Prague, Franz Liszt hall in Budapest, Centre Chaillot in Paris, Artists home in Granada, Salon de Actos in Barcelona, etc.

However he aroused interest not only as a performer, but also as a composer. A supreme connoisseur of folkloric music, he enriched his repertoir with many artistically stylized compositions based on traditional themes. Inspired by folk songs and dances, Jovičić composed over 100 different guitar works, among which the first published outside Yugoslavia was in 1950 his "Balkan Dance” and "Concert Etude” prented by Broekmans & Van Pope in Holland, and some years later his "Macedonian Rhapsody” in the Ukraine. Not so long ago Jovičić’s selected concert works were presented in a publication which the author of these lines edited for Mel Bay publications in the USA, and in a collected six-volume set of Guitar Compositions from Yugoslavia, issued by Syukhtun Editions in Sweden..

The largest part of Jovičić’s opus was published in Serbia by the publishing company Nota Knjaževac, among which it is important to mention his School of the Guitar in five volumes (the first was issued in 1969). Another notable feature of his activity is his writing of music for radio and television plays, theatre and films, for which he won a number of prizes. He composed and performed music for 68 dramas, and 40 movies, among which, "Comrades”, "Bride of Adriatic”, and "Spain, the Land of My Youth”, won first prizes in Brussels (1958), Paris (1960), Dijon (1960), and Leipzig (1960), and at the International Contest of Radio-Dramas in Rome, Italy (1958), he obtained the Prix Italia for the music composed for the play "The Bird”. He has also recorded for several gramophone companies in Serbia, Croatia, Russia, Spain and the USA.

It is especially to Jovičić’s credit that in the course of his more than 50 years long artistic activity, the guitar has attained a place of honor in the concert halls of the former Yugoslavia, were it has been accepted as a classical instrument. Also as the result of his entire pedagogical activity a regular tuition of the classical guitar was introduced in music schools in former Yugoslavia, as well as at the Faculty of Music Arts.

Tags:  Obituary 

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