The Croatian Radiotelevision Tamburitza Orchestra is a unique instrumental ensemble founded in 1941 as a professional orchestra of Zagreb Radio. Since its founding, the orchestra has presented traditional Croatian music on Croatian Radio and Television, as well as at many concerts and festivals throughout Europe and has exhibited great care for the folk tradition.
In addition, a considerable part of the ensemble’s repertoire consists of works by 19th and 20th century Croatian composers such as Pajo Kolaric, Emil Cossetto, and Bozo Potocnik among many others, who have taken the four-stringed tambura beyond its traditional role in folk music and explored the rich possibilities of its use as a contemporary instrument. The orchestra’s repertoire has expanded over the years to encompass diverse musical genres, ranging from folk to classical music to jazz.
The orchestra has released several albums and has recorded over 10,000 folk songs, dances, and composed works that are archived in the Croatian Radio and Television library. They have also played with many renowned vocal and instrumental soloists and have been under the direction of Siniša Leopold since 1985.
7 decades 1941 – 2011 : Croatian Composers in the Tamburitza Ambiance
One of the most important artists on the Croatian music scene, Tamara Obrovac was born in 1962 in the Croatian city of Pula. This singer, flutist, and composer has become very popular in the past few years due to the influence of the Istrian folk music that has been the creative force of her works. Istria is a North Adriatic peninsula in a beautiful Croatian region, particular for its musical and dialectal tradition.
The folk music from Croatia’s coastal region of Istria is known for its own ancient and distinctive scale as well as a suite of unique instruments which evolved in conjunction with it.
Known for her highly aesthetic performances, Obrovac’s interpretations are suffused with spontaneity, inventive improvisation, freedom, humor and the ability to communicate with the audience.
By the beginning of the 1990s, the war in former Yugoslavia caused Obrovac to return to her native Istria. Untouched by war, where she dedicated herself to her own musical progress and prepared her first album entitled Triade, issued in 1996.This was a compilation of sorts, in which she presented three areas that were most present in her work at the time: jazz standards, original jazz compositions, and compositions inspired by Istrian folk music. With this material she introduced a fresh and a new way of thinking about Croatian jazz scene.
A stylistically more refined album entitled Ulika followed, on which all her compositions are sung in dialect. This is an exceptional work of unusual strength, distinctiveness, intellectual and spiritual expression with the roots, habits, folklore, language, music and spirit of Istria.
Obrovac is enthusiastically praised in the Croatian press for the way she uses the works of Istrian poets in her music and indeed her own talents as a poet. In addition to her international concert activities she has also composed for ballet and theater, film and even cartoons. She is also a member of the International Balkan Winds Ensemble and the multi-cultural Balkan Horses Band, which currently also includes well-known musicians from Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Macedonia, Greece and Serbia.
Patria was founded in 1993 in the town of Zupanja located in Croatia’s heartland of tamburica music, Slavonija, when the musicians were only sixteen. This six-piece ensemble was one of the finest examples of modern tamburica music.
As well as the folk music of their native Croatia, Patria presented the music of all the peoples of Pannonia (the Danube plain) in their concerts – performing Hungarian Csardas, Romanian horas and Gypsy ballads and kolo dances. They also added the works of the old classical masters, Mozart, Bach, Brahms and Verdi to their musical mix.
Lidija Bajuk is a Croatian writer whose poetry and books are based on the rich heritage of Slavic mythology. But above all, she is a musician with a strong desire to preserve traditional songs of her country and present them to the modern generations.
Her enchanting voice takes one on the journey into the ancient past of the archetypal images hidden in the deepest corners of the soul, into the self-discovery.
She and her guitar have traveled from Tibet to Colombia, from Greece to Canada. In July 2002 she represented Croatia at the festival Euromusica in Olympia, Greece, and in October 2002 she performed at the opening of Prix Europa festival in Berlin, Germany, together with the famous Croatian band Legen.
Lidija Bajuk’s performances vary from solo performances to those where she is accompanied with her band, or performances in duet with the famous Croatian pianist Matija Dedic.
She has participated in various compilations, including; Ethnoambient live / Archaic Songs from Croatia, (Kopito records & CBS Zagreb, 1995), Svehrvatski glazbeni festival Cro Etno Neum 96 (CBS & Croatia Records Zagreb & Croatica Mostar, 1996), and Etno Devedesete (CBS Zagreb 1998).
Tira Les (2001)
Mojmir Novakovic is in a constant pursuit of all that is unpredictable in the Croatian roots music scene. He is the frontman of the legendary Croatian world music group Legen. But he also wants to explore other possibilities so he got together with another group of musicians, Kamenko Culap, Ivo Letunic and Kresimir Oreski, to form a new group named Kries.
In the ancient Croatian language, Kries means “bonfire”. In many cultures people used to light bonfires to get together, sing and dance and to celebrate life.
The intention of Kries is to revive little sleeping flames of the ancient songs, the sounds of the forgotten traditional musical instruments, and to make them a part of the present, thus starting a new voyage of adventure.
In 2006 two more people joined Kries, Mario Rasic on bass guitar and Hrvoje Marcelic-Kiwi on electric guitar. The first result is an adaptation of one traditional song from Medjimurje, gorgeous green region of Northern Croatia. Drums and percussions as usually, Kresimir Oreski. Vocal and mus. production.
Selo Na Okuke (Village Tracks) is Kries’ third album, released by Riverboat Records. it was recorded at Dubrovnik’s Marin Drzic Theatre.
Ivo i Mara (Kopito Records, 2004)
Kocijani (Kopito Records, 2008) Selo Na Okuke (Riverboat, 2016)
Lado, the state ensemble of Croatian folk songs and dances, is the Croatian professional folklore ensemble established in 1949 for the research, collection, artistic interpretation and stage performance of the most traditional works of Croatia?s rich heritage of folk songs and dances.
Lado has assembled the talents of the most famous Croatian folklorists and choreographers, folk musicians, composers and conductors who are inspired by folk music. Lado’s imposing repertoire, both choreographically and musically, is respected throughout the world for its authenticity. The repertoire contains more than one hundred choreographies and hundreds of vocal and instrumental works. Remarkably, the ensemble of dancers is equally at home as an award-winning folk choir that performs both traditional regional folk songs and sacred folk masses.
In 2002 Ensemble Lado represented Europe at the 6th World Symposium on Choral Music (Minnesota) as one of the 22 world’s best choirs. Lado was also awarded the prestigious Golden Doruntina 2000 for its vocal and choreographic excellence. The fifteen versatile musicians played an extraordinary range of musical selections on a wide variety of more than 40 traditional folk instruments.
Lado boasts a unique collection of hundreds of authentic folk costumes of extraordinary value and beauty, so that each performance of Lado is also a museum-like display of traditional Croatian folk costumes.
Each season, Lado offers three different dance programs with 10-12 choreographies and three vocal and instrumental secular and sacred traditional folk music programs.
The Lado ensemble has performed in numerous musical and video recordings, and in a wide variety of both Croatian and foreign television programs, documentary and feature films, and theatrical productions.
Lado’s stage performances throughout the world have earned standing ovations from its enthusiastic audiences and dance critics have ranked Lado as one of the finest and most authentic folk dance companies in the world.
The Lado Ensemble has released over 20 albums, including secular and spiritual music.
Some of the numerous Croatian and international awards won by the Lado Ensemble include: Gold Doruntina 2000, Porin 2000 best folklore music album; Porin 2002 overall artistic creation; Porin 2003 best folklore music album; Porin 2003 best folklore music performance; Porin 2003 best spiritual music album.
Narodne pjesme i plesovi sjeverne Hrvatske (1987)
Telo Kristuševo, Narodi se mladi kralj’ (1994) Kalvarija (1994)
Iz Kajkavskih krajeva (1998)
Iz Kajkavskih krajeva vol.2 (1998)
Iz Hrvatske narodne glazbene riznice vol.1 (1998)
Kolo igra, tamburica svira vol.1 (1999)
Kolo igra, tamburica svira vol.2 (1999)
O vreme prelubleno – (1999)
Na moru i kraju – (2000)
U društvu sviraca vol.1 (2000)
Najljepše Božicne pjesme (2001)
U društvu sviraca vol.2 (2001)
Na zelenom travniki (2001)
Raspelo (2002) Preveliku radost navišcujem vama (2003) Lado electro (2003)
Zorja moja zorja – Andela Potocnik (2004)
Božic u svijetu (2004)
Iz Hrvatske narodne glazbene riznice vol.2′ (2005)
Polke i drmeši (2007) Teta Liza i Lado (2007) Janja – Niz Muru i Dravu (2009)
Astrid Kuljanic – Transatlantic Exploration Company – Riva (One Trick Dog Records, 2017)
On Riva, Croatian vocalist and composer Astrid Kuljanic combines jazz with Croatian elements. Throughout the album she switches from Croatian to English-language vocals.
The album’s sound focuses around the jazz-style vocals and the accordion, supported by creative bass lines and fascinating percussion work. The Transatlantic Exploration Company plays conventional jazz as well as Brazilian beats.
The line-up on Riva includes Astrid Kuljanic on vocals; Ben Rosenblum on accordion; Mat Muntz on bass; and Rogerio Boccato on percussion.
Tomislav Goluban – Kaj Blues Etno (Spona CD194, 2016)
Tomislav Goluban is one of the best harmonica players in Central Europe. His album Kaj Blues Etno divides the musical pieces into three types.
Kaj makes reference to Kajkavian, which is a Croatian dialect from Zagorje in Central Croatia. Here, Goluban delivers a mix of Kajkavian pop and folk combined with jazz.
The Blues songs are pretty self-explanatory. In this set, Goluban plays songs in Croatian and instrumentals in a delta and country blues format, with notable harmonica solos.
The last set, titled Etno, is what we would call world music or world fusion. Goluban performs traditional and original pieces where he combines blues with jazz and folk music. And, even though blues has been performed in many languages other than English before, the novelty here is that Tomislav Goluban incorporates traditional Croatian musical instruments into the mix such as tambura, bagpipe, and a few others.
Kaj Blues Etno includes numerous guests although the backbone of the band consists of Tomislav Goluban on harmonica, vocals; Adalbert Turner, Hana Hegedušić, Nikola Santro, Ivana Kurs Podvorec on vocals; Mike Sponza on guitar; Damir Halilić Hal on mandolin, guitar; Miroslav Evačić on tambura; Toni Starešinić on keyboards; Marko First on violin; Stjepan Večković on bagpipe, double flute; Damjan Grbac on double bass; and Branko Trajkov on percussions. Two ensembles also participate in the recording, the Zagrje Brass Quintet and Ansambl Zabok.
Tomislav Goluban is a prominent Croatian blues harmonica musician, who has been playing for two decades. He does solo, duo and full band performances. Goluban has won several of Croatia’s most prestigious annual national music awards. He’s the founder of the ethno blues festival in his home region of Zagorje, northwest of the Croatian capital of Zagreb; he also works with young people, exposing them to the harmonica and music in general and hosts a blues radio show on the Croatian national radio station.