During World War II, he served as a lieutenant colonel in the Croatian Home Guard and was conductor for the Independent State of Croatia's military bands. After the war he was sentenced to death by Communist Yugoslavia's government. However, his wife Lilika, who was Jewish, petitioned the Jewish-Yugoslav politician Moša Pijade who intervened and gained Matačić release after a year in imprisonment.
The Lovro pl. Matačić Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded biennally by the Croatian Association of Musical Artists.