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Igor Kuljerić

Igor Kuljerić (February 1, 1938April 20, 2006) was a Croatian composer born in the coastal city of Šibenik on the Adriatic Sea in 1938 in what was then the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He graduated in composition from Zagreb Academy of Music and continued his studies in Milan, Italy, at La Scala and RAI, and in Monte Carlo with Igor Markevitch. From 1960 to 1967 he served as the rehearsal/assistant conductor of the Opera of Croatian National Theater in Zagreb and later became a member of the famed Solisti di Zagreb ensemble as their harpsichordist and assistant to the director Antonio Janigro. From 1968 till the early ‘80s he served as the conductor of Croatian Radio Television Chorusand the Croatian Radio Television Symphony Orchestra During his illustrious career, he held many other important posts within Croatia’s musical life, including music directorships of Dubrovnik Summer Festival, Croatian National Theater, Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall Seriesand Biennale Zagreb (festival of contemporary music). Kuljerić was also active abroad giving performances in USA, former USSR, Spain, Italy, Austria, etc. He is considered one of the most important and most versatile Croatian composers of the 20th century.

Kuljerić’s stature as composer grew over the years, eventually leading to international recognition and world-wide performances. A prolific composer with many performing resources at his disposal, he was able to experiment and readily find outlet for his ideas. His musical language is based on Croatian folk music, the liturgical traditions of the Adriatic costal region where he grew up (Glagolitic liturgical tradition)and Slavic classical music. Throughout his life, these sources served as an endless well of inspiration for his creative spirit and are readily recognizable in his compositions. Stylistically, the core of his output falls within the National/Neo-Romantic tradition but some of his compositions are also for electronic media and are experimental in nature. The catalogue of his works is extensive, the pieces that stand out are Solo-Tutti for piano and orchestra; Quasi pulchra es (Omaggio a Lukacic) for chorus, The Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh for vocal-instrumental ensembles, Kanconier for voices and instruments, Song for string quartet, and Risuono di gavotte for orchestra. He also wrote several ballets; his operas Richard III, and The Animal Farm have received international attention. His last two works, scored for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, “Glagolitic Requiem”, and in particular the Croatian Mass are considered by many his masterworks. Several prominent conductors have played a role in the promotion of Kuljerić’s music, among which Pavle Dešpalj, Vjekoslav Šutej, and Zvonimir Hačko have made special contribution.

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