Music of Slovenia

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In the minds of many foreigners, Slovenian folk music means a form of polka that is still popular today, especially among expatriates and their descendants. However, there are many styles of Slovenian folk music beyond polka and waltz. Kolo, lender, štajeriš, mafrine and šaltin are a few of the traditional music styles and dances.



The Divje Babe flute, an artifact found in a cave near Cerkno, Slovenia, is possibly the oldest known musical instrument ever. Its age is estimated at approximately 55,000 years.

The history of modern Slovenian music can be traced back to the 5th century, when Christianity spread in Carantania. Liturgical hymns (kyrie Eleison) were introduced, and became the first plainchant to make a connection to the peoples' language.

Classical music


During the medieval era, secular music was as popular as church music, including wandering minnesingers. Jurij Slatkonja, a Carniolan conductor and composer from Novo Mesto, became the director of the Vienna Boys' Choir in 1498. By the time of Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, music was used to proselytize in Carniola. The first Slovenian hymnal, Eni Psalmi , was published in 1567. This period saw the rise of Renaissance musicians like Jacobus Gallus. [1] Italy was an important musical influence of the period, especially in sacred music, such as that of Antonio Tarsia (composer) of Koper, in oratorio and opera. A Commedia was performed in Ljubljana in 1660, and an opera in 1700 in the family palace of the Auerspergs.


In 1701, Johann Berthold von Höffer (1667–1718), a nobleman and amateur composer from Ljubljana, founded the Academia Philharmonicorum Labacensis based on Italian models. [2] and the Ljubljana branch of the Roman Academy of Arcadia was founded a few years later in 1709. Apart from Höffer, the Cathedral provost Michael Omerza was also noted for his oratorios. The first major Slovenian opera was performed in 1732, Il Tamerlano by abbate Giuseppe Clemente de Bonomi, maestro di Capella, in the palace of the Carniolan vice-regent, the duke Francesco Antonio Sigifrid Della Torre e Valassina. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

Beginning in 1768, German theatre companies arrived and became very popular. The 1794 formation of the Philharmonische Gesellschaft was important because it was one of the first such orchestras in Central Europe.

19th century

The 19th century saw the growth of a distinctively Slovenian classical music sound based on romanticism, while the German minority continued to push for a stronger Germanic identity. The Ljubljana opera house (1892) was shared by Slovene and German opera companies.

Composers of Slovenian Lieder and art songs include Emil Adamič (1877–1936), Fran Gerbič (1840–1917), Alojz Geržinič (1915–2008), Benjamin Ipavec (1829–1908), Davorin Jenko (1835–1914), Anton Lajovic (1878–1960), Kamilo Mašek (1831–1859), Josip Pavčič (1870–1949), Zorko Prelovec (1887–1939), and Lucijan Marija Škerjanc (1900–1973).

20th century

In the early 20th century, impressionism was spreading across Slovenia, which soon produced composers Marij Kogoj and Slavko Osterc.

Avant-garde classical music arose in Slovenia in the 1960s, largely due to the work of Uroš Krek, Dane Škerl, Primož Ramovš and Ivo Petrić, who also conducted the Slavko Osterc Ensemble. Jakob Jež, Darijan Božič, Lojze Lebič and Vinko Globokar have since composed enduring works, especially Globokar's L'Armonia , an opera. In the 1950s, Božidar Kantušer was the most progressive of all, by dint of his atonality.


Contemporary classic music composers include Uroš Rojko, Tomaž Svete, Brina Jež-Brezavšček and Aldo Kumar. Kumar's Sonata z igro 12 (A sonata with a play 12), a set of variations on a rising chromatic scale, is particularly notable.


The Ljubljana Opera House serves as the national opera and ballet house. Mezzo-soprano Marjana Lipovšek was born in Ljubljana.

Film music

The composer of film scores for 170 films was Bojan Adamič (1912–1995). [9]

Folk music


Rural Harmony singing is a deep rooted tradition in Slovenia, and is at least three-part singing (four voices), while in some regions even up to eight-part singing (nine voices). Slovenian folk songs, thus, usually resounds soft and harmonious, and are very seldom in minor.


Typical Slovenian folk music is performed on Styrian harmonica (the oldest type of accordion), fiddle, clarinet, zithers, flute, and by brass bands of alpine type. In eastern Slovenia, fiddle and cimbalon bands are called velike goslarije. Traditional Slovenian music include various kinds of musical instruments such as:

Folk music revivalists include Volk Volk, Kurja Koža, Marko Banda, Katice, Bogdana Herman, Ljoba Jenče, Vruja, Trinajsto praše, Šavrinske pupe en ragacone, Musicante Istriani, and Tolovaj Mataj.

One of the best Slovenian diatonic accordionists is Nejc Pačnik who won the accordion world-championship twice, in 2009 and 2015.

Slovenian pop-folk music

From 1952 on, the Slavko Avsenik's band began to appear in broadcasts, movies, and concerts all over the West Germany, inventing the original "Oberkrainer" sound that has become the primary vehicle of ethnic musical expression not only in Slovenia, but also in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and in the Benelux, spawning hundreds of Alpine orchestras in the process. The band produced nearly 1000 original compositions, an integral part of the Slovenian-style polka legacy. Avsenik's most popular instrumental composition is the polka that is titled "Na Golici" (in Slovene), or "Trompetenecho" (in German), and "Trumpet Echoes" (in English). Oberkrainer music, which the Avsenik Ensemble popularized, is always a strong candidate for pop-folk music awards in Slovenia and Austria. Slavko and his brother, Vilko, are usually credited as the pioneers of Slovenian folk music, having solidified its style in the 1950s.

Many musicians followed Avsenik's steps, one of the most famous being Lojze Slak.

Slovenian song festival

A similarly high standing in Slovene culture, like the Sanremo Music Festival has had in Italian culture, was attributed to the coastal Melodies of Sea and Sun (In Slovene: Melodije morja in sonca) and Slovenian song festival (In Slovene: Slovenska popevka), dedicated to a specific genre of popular Slovene music. [10]

Contemporary music

Among pop, rock, industrial, and indie musicians the most popular in Slovenia include Laibach, an early 1980s industrial music group, and most recently the Slovenian pop a cappella band Perpetuum Jazzile.

Pop, rock, metal, and indie music

With more than 15 million views for the official a cappella "Africa" performance video since its publishing on YouTube in May 2009 until September 2013, [11] that earned them kudos from the song's co-writer, David Paich, [12] Perpetuum Jazzile is the group from Slovenia that is internationally most listened online. Other popular bands, most largely unknown outside the country, include Tabu, ManuElla, Društvo Mrtvih Pesnikov (pop-rock), Siddharta, Rok 'n' Band, Pop Design, Fredi Miler, Terrafolk, Leaf Fat (screamo), Amaya, Šank Rock, Big Foot Mama, Yogurt, Dan D, Zablujena generacija, Katalena, Devil Doll (experimental rock), Negligence (band), Chateau, Čuki, Zaklonišče Prepeva, Psycho-Path, Dekadent (black metal), and Buldožer (progressive rock). The deathcore band Within Destruction have released two-full-length albums and have partaken in several European tours; the band is based in Jesenice. [13]


Slovenian post-WWII singer-songwriters include Frane Milčinski (1914–1988), Tomaž Pengov whose 1973 album Odpotovanja is considered to be the first singer-songwriter album in former Yugoslavia, [14] Tomaž Domicelj, Marko Brecelj, Andrej Šifrer, Eva Sršen, Neca Falk, and Jani Kovačič. After 1990, Adi Smolar, Iztok Mlakar, Vita Mavrič, Vlado Kreslin, Zoran Predin, Peter Lovšin, and Magnifico have been popular in Slovenia, as well.

World music

The 1970s Bratko Bibič's band Begnagrad is considered one of the direct influences on modern world music. Bibič's unique accordion style, often solo, with no accompaniment, has also made him a solo star.

Punk rock

Slovenia was the center for punk rock in the Titoist Yugoslavia. The most famous representatives of this genre were Pankrti, Niet, Lublanski Psi, Kuzle, Čao Pičke, Via Ofenziva, Tožibabe, and Otroci Socializma.

Techno and tech-house

Slovenia has also produced two renowned DJs: DJ Umek and Valentino Kanzyani. Specialising in a frantic brand of party techno and tech-house, the pair co-founded the label Recycled Loops as well as having many releases on labels such as Novamute, Primate, Intec and Bassethound Records.

Neue Slowenische Kunst

Neue Slowenische Kunst (a German phrase meaning "New Slovenian Art"), aka NSK, is a controversial political art collective that announced itself in Slovenia in 1984, when Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia. NSK's name, being German, is compatible with a theme in NSK works: the complicated relationship Slovenes have had with Germans. The name of NSK's music wing, Laibach, is also the German name of the Slovene capital Ljubljana, creating controversy through evoking memories of the Nazi occupation of Slovenia during the Second World War. [15]

Laibach performing at wRacku Festiwal 2010 Laibach wracku raciborz 07 2010 009.jpg
Laibach performing at wRacku Festiwal 2010

NSK's best-known member is the musical group Laibach. Other NSK member groups include IRWIN (visual art), Noordung (theater; originally named Scipion Nasice Sisters Theatre, also known as Red Pilot), New Collective Studio (graphics; also known as New Collectivism), Retrovision (film and video), and the Department of Pure and Applied Philosophy (theory). [16] [17] [18] The founding groups of the NSK were Laibach, IRWIN, and Scipion Našice Sisters Theater.


NSK art often draws on symbols drawn from totalitarian or extreme nationalist movements, often reappropriating totalitarian kitsch in a visual style reminiscent of Dada. NSK artists often juxtapose symbols from different (and often incompatible) political ideologies. For example, a 1987 NSK-designed poster caused a scandal by winning a competition for the Yugoslavian Youth Day Celebration. The poster appropriated a painting by Nazi artist Richard Klein, replacing the flag of Nazi Germany with the Yugoslav flag and the German eagle with a dove. [17]

Both IRWIN and Laibach are emphatic about their work being collective rather than individual. Laibach's original songs and arrangements are always credited to the group collectively; the individual artists are not named on their album covers; at one point, there were even two separate Laibach groups touring at the same time, both with members of the original group. Similarly, the IRWIN artists never sign their work individually; instead, they are "signed" with a stamp or certificate indicating approval as a work from the IRWIN collective.

The NSK were the subject of a 1996 documentary film written and directed by Michael Benson, entitled Prerokbe Ognja in Slovenian, or Predictions of Fire in English. [19] Among those interviewed in the film is Slovenian intellectual Slavoj Žižek.

NSK State

Since 1991, NSK has claimed to constitute a state, [20] a claim similar to that of micronations. They issue passports, [21] have presented shows of their work in the guise of an embassy or even as a territory of their supposed state, and maintain consulates in several cities including Umag, Croatia. [22] NSK have also issued postage stamps. Laibach, in 2006, recorded (some may say 'remixed') the NSK State National Anthem on the LP "Volk." The "anthem" adopts its melody from another Laibach song, "The Great Seal." Laibach's version of the NSK anthem includes a computer voice reciting an excerpt from Winston Churchill's famous " We shall fight them on the beaches/We shall never surrender" speech. The computer voice is clearly recognisable as the voice synthesiser Macintalk, built into classic Mac OS, and uses the preset voice Ralph.

The NSK passports are an art project and as such are not valid for travel. However, many desperate people have fallen for a scam in which they are issued a NSK passport. Most of these scams originate in Nigeria and Egypt. [23]


Laibach [ˈlaɪbax] is a Slovenian avant-garde music group strongly associated with Nazism, martial, and neo-classical musical styles. Laibach formed 1 June 1980 in Trbovlje, Slovenia (then Yugoslavia). Laibach represents the music wing of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) art collective, of which it was a founding member in 1984. The name "Laibach" is the German name for Slovenia's capital city, Ljubljana.

See also

Related Research Articles

Slovenia Country in Central Europe

Slovenia, officially the Republic of Slovenia, is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Croatia to the southeast, and the Adriatic Sea to the southwest. Slovenia is mostly mountainous and forested, covers 20,271 square kilometers (7,827 sq mi), and has a population of 2.1 million. Slovenes form the vast majority of the country's population, while Serbs are the largest minority. Slovene, the South Slavic language, is the official language. Slovenia has a mainly continental climate, with the exception of the Slovene Littoral, which has a sub-Mediterranean climate, and of the Julian Alps in the northwest, which have an Alpine climate. Additionally, the Dinaric Alps and the Pannonian Plain meet in Slovenia. Ljubljana is the nation's capital and largest city.

Slavko Avsenik

Slavko Avsenik was a Slovene composer and musician. Beginning in 1953 with the formation of the Avsenik Brothers Ensemble, Avsenik produced more than 1,000 songs and enjoyed success both in Slovenia and in other parts of Europe and America, and is viewed as a Slovenian cultural icon.

Laibach Slovenian music group

Laibach is a Slovenian avant-garde music group associated with the industrial, martial and neo-classical genres. Formed in the mining town of Trbovlje in 1980, Laibach represents the musical wing of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) collective, a group which Laibach helped found in 1984. "Laibach" is the German historical name for the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, itself an oblique reference to the Nazi occupation of Slovenia in World War II.

Neue Slowenische Kunst

Neue Slowenische Kunst, a.k.a. NSK, is a controversial political art collective that formed in Slovenia in 1984, when Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia. NSK's name, being German, is compatible with a theme in NSK works: the complicated relationship Slovenes have had with Germans. The name of NSK's music wing, Laibach, is also the German name of the Slovene capital Ljubljana. The name created controversy because some felt it evoked memories of the Nazi annexation of Slovenia during the Second World War. It also refers to Slovenia's previous seven centuries as part of the Habsburg Monarchy.

<i>Opus Dei</i> (album) 1987 studio album by Laibach

Opus Dei is the third studio album by a Slovenian band Laibach, released in 1987. It features "Geburt einer Nation", a German cover of Queen's "One Vision", and two reworkings of the Austrian band Opus' sole international hit single "Live Is Life". The Opus song became the German language "Leben heißt Leben" and the English language "Opus Dei". "The Great Seal" is the national anthem of the NSK State, the lyrics taken from Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches" speech. A new arrangement of the song appears on Laibach's album Volk, with the title "NSK". On Volk, the song is credited to Laibach and Slavko Avsenik, Jr.

Siddharta (band)

Siddharta is a five-piece Slovenian alternative rock band formed in 1995. They are named after the 1922 novel by the German writer Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha.

Sigmund Zois Slovenian scientist

Sigmund Zois Freiherr von Edelstein, usually referred as Sigmund Zois was a Carniolan nobleman, natural scientist and patron of the arts. He is considered one of the most influential figures of the Enlightenment Era in the Slovene Lands of Habsburg Austria.

IRWIN is a collective of Slovenian artists, primarily painters, and an original founding member of Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK).

Silence is a Slovene electronic, synthpop and soundtrack music composing duo consisting of Boris Benko and Primož Hladnik. Their fanbase and their tours are currently limited to Slovenia, Germany and parts of Eastern Europe. Outside the region, the band is probably mostly known for the album "Vain, A Tribute To A Ghost" and their collaboration with Laibach on the album Volk in 2006.

Upper Carniola

Upper Carniola is a traditional region of Slovenia, the northern mountainous part of the larger Carniola region. The centre of the region is Kranj, while other urban centers include Jesenice, Tržič, Škofja Loka, Kamnik, and Domžale. It has around 300,000 inhabitants or 14% of the population of Slovenia.

<i>Volk</i> (album) 2006 studio album by Laibach

Volk is the seventh studio album by Slovenian industrial group Laibach, released in 2006. The word "volk" means "people" or "nation" in German and "wolf" in Slovene. The album is a collection of thirteen songs inspired by national or pan-national anthems, plus the anthem of the NSK State, a virtual state to which Laibach belong. The album is a collaboration with another Slovenian band, Silence.

Among the modes of expression of the culture of Slovenia, a nation-state in Central Europe, are music and dance, literature, visual arts, film, and theatre. A number of festivals take place, showcasing music and literature.


Golica is a peak in the Western Karawanks, on the border between Slovenia and Austria, above the Slovene town of Jesenice. It is known mainly for its fields of wild white narcissi, swathes of which cover Golica and surrounding pastures in late April and early May. This marks the beginning of a popular time for mountaineers to visit, extending through the end of summer. The slopes provide great views of the Julian Alps and Austrian Carinthia; the Ljubljana Basin can be seen from the summit on clear days.

Slavko Avsenik Jr.

Slavko Avsenik Jr. is a Slovenian composer and pianist. He is also the author of numerous children's songs. He is the son of the Slavko Avsenik.

Matija Bravničar was a Slovenian composer.

Perpetuum Jazzile

Perpetuum Jazzile is a Slovenian musical group best known for an a cappella version of Toto rock band's song Africa. The May 2009 video showing a live performance of this version has received close to 22 million views on YouTube.

Ljubljana Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet

The Ljubljana Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet, or shortly Ljubljana SNG Opera and Ballet, is Slovenia's national opera and ballet company. Its seat is the Ljubljana Opera House at 1 Župančič Street in Ljubljana. The Ljubljana Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet was founded in 1918. It is now a subsection of the Slovene National Drama Theatre in Ljubljana (Slovensko narodno gledališče and has about 50 dancers. Since 2013, its director has been the lawyer Peter Sotošek Štular, and its artistic director the opera stage director Rocc.

Na Golici is a Slovenian polka instrumental composed by Slavko Avsenik and arranged by his brother Vilko Avsenik. The song was written in 1954 and first recorded in January 1955 in the studio of Radio Kärnten. It is considered the most played instrumental tune in the world. At this time, the band was renamed to Gorenjski kvintet. This song has been covered more than 600 times all over the world.


  1. Oto Luthar The land between a history of Slovenia
  2. George J. Buelow A history of baroque music 2004 p701
  3. Vlado Kotnik Opera, power and ideology: anthropological study of a national art 2010 In 1732, a performance of the tragedia per musica 'II Tamerlano' written by Maestro di Capella Giuseppe Clemente Bonomi, a bandmaster of the Carniolan vice-regent, the duke Francesco Antonio Sigifrid Della Torre e Valassina,
  4. Essays presented to Egon Wellesz Jack Allan Westrup – 1966 IL TAMERLANO DE GIUSEPPE CLEMENTE BONOMI Dragotin Cvetko (Ljubljana) Parmi les compositeurs du passé musical européen don't les biographies n'ont pas encore été l'objet de Recherches approfondies ou qui même n'ont pas encore été étudiés ...
  5. Italian Opera in Central Europe: Volume 1 – Page 64 Melania Bucciarelli, Norbert Dubowy, Reinhard Strohm – 2006 In the libretto for the Ljubljana performance this introduction is followed, on page six, by the remark: La Musica è Virtuosa Fatica del sempre Celebre Signor Abbate D. Giuseppe Clemente de Bonomi actually Maestro di Cappella di Sua ...
  6. The musical times: Volume 108 JSTOR (Organization) – 1967 Dragon Cvetko writes about a hitherto unknown composer whose name occurs in none of the big music dictionaries: Giuseppe Clemente Bonomi. Apparently Bonomi was maestro di cappella to a nobleman in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 1732, ...
  7. Report: Volume 10 International Musicological Society. Congress – 1970 An interesting personality of the Italian late Baroque is Giuseppe Clemente Bonomi, "maestro di capella" of the vicedom of Carniola. In the libretto of his opera "II Tamerlano", staged in the palace of the vicedom in Ljubljana, in 1732, ...
  8. Alberto Colzani -Il teatro musicale italiano nel Sacro Romano Impero nei secoli , 1999 -"Its music was composed by Giuseppe Clementi de Bonomi, then employed as music director of the private chapel of the Carniolan vice-dominus, Count Anton Siegfried Thum Valsassina, in Ljubljana. After 1732 operatic performances in ..."
  9. Sojar Voglar, Črt (2005). Skladateljske sledi po letu 1900 [Composers' Traces After 1900](PDF) (in Slovenian and English) (2nd ed.). Society of Slovene Composers. pp. 6–7. ISBN   961-91080-2-7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 May 2006.
  10. Slovenska popevka: velik poudarek na pevcih in skladateljih, pesniki bolj v oklepaju. Enkrat še zapoj: 50 let Slovenske popevke Vladimirja Frantarja pri celjski Mohorjevi družbi., Delo, 5. September 2012.
  11. Perpetuum Jazzile: Africa. YouTube. Accessed on 9 September 2013.
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  14. Pripotovanje hrepenenca — Tomaž Pengov, kantavtor, Mladina, 3 March 2007
  15. Monroe, Alexei. Interrogation Machine. MIT Press, 2005. p 3.
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  17. 1 2 Regina Hackett. "Slovenian art collective is adept at working politics and art". Seattle Post-Intelligencer , 19 November 2004.
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  21. "[ NSKSTATE.COM ][ HOW TO GET A PASSPORT ]". Archived from the original on 6 April 2008. Retrieved 11 June 2008.
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