Serbia (Music), Middle Ages
When the Christian church in the 800-t. separated into an eastern and a western part, the Balkan countries came under Byzantine influence, which became important for both church music and folk music. The Serbian and Montenegrin vocal church music developed analogously to the Greek and gained a center in the Serbian monastery of Hilandar on Athos. Only a few actual musical documents have been preserved, but the literature shows that in the Middle Ages there must have been a difference between Serbian and Greek church singing. From Serbia in the 1400’s. was conquered by the Ottomans, the oriental culture completely supplanted the domestic, except in the monasteries, where the Byzantine church song lived on and in part added popular, Serbian elements. The first sparse accounts of secular music in Serbia appear in church literature from the 13th and 14th centuries. which mentions wandering musicians and the practice of music at the ceremonies of Serbian feudal courts and the tournament matches of the warriors. On frescoes and miniatures from the Middle Ages, dancers and musicians are seen with string and wind instruments. From the long period under the Ottomans, the only trace of a Serbian music culture is the folk poet-singersguslari, who recited epic songs for his own accompaniment on the single-stringed string instrument gusle. Due to the patriotic nature of the songs, they were persecuted by those in power, and many sought, among other things. therefore abroad. The epic poetry was written down early, while a recording of the melodies did not begin until after 1800. In the 1860’s, an actual collection of folk melodies was launched.
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Only when the Ottoman power position weakened and was broken by the Austrian army did a bourgeois music culture develop in a Western sense in Serbia and Vojvodina. Josif Schlesinger (1790-1870) formed a military orchestra that participated in state festivities and theater performances. The most beloved art form of the time, however, became a kind of singing game. Kornelije Stanković (1831-65) founded the national movement and also ensured that the Serbian church song was first noted and published in his polyphonic adaptation (1862-69).
Choir associations arose and spread throughout Serbia to such an extent that help had to be requested from abroad to lead the choirs; as a result, Czech musicians came to influence music life to a significant degree. Among the Serbian composers who performed an artistic adaptation of folk music, special mention must be made of Stevan Mokranjac (1856-1914).
The next generation of composers further developed the national direction in a more modern way. Petar Konjović (1883-1970) wrote five operas; his main work, Koštana (1931, after Borislav Stanković’s drama of the same name), is written in the special oriental style of music that existed in the town of Vranje around 1880. Miloje Milojević (1884-1946) stuck mainly to the smaller forms, especially the solo song; in addition, he wrote essays and dissertations on music, also of a musicological nature. Stevan Hristić (1885-1958) was for many years the conductor of the Belgrade Opera and made his greatest contribution to stage music.
With the formation of the new state of Yugoslavia (1918), cultural cooperation between the united nations began, at the same time as the contact with the European music of the time was strengthened and its currents left their mark on the young composers. After World War II, many efforts were made to bring the music out to the whole people; everywhere amateur associations for folk music and dance were established and in 1948 the first professional ensemble, Kolo.
Folk music is marked partly by old common Balkan elements dating back to the Illyrians and Thracians, and partly by recent influences from the country’s minorities and from the surrounding countries. The oldest layer includes ritual songs of simple structure and poor tonal range. The melodies are strophic, while the lyrics consist of verse lines that are not organized in stanzas. Most often, a melody stanza corresponds to one verse line, which may. adjusted by repeating the entire line or parts thereof. In both lyrical and epic texts, the ten-syllable verse dominates. In Vojvodina, several different styles mix under the influence of especially Romanian, Hungarian and Slovak folk music. In the mountains of western Serbia there are two-part forms of the same type as in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Eastern Serbia, the music is characterized by Bulgarian melody and rhythm.
In Serbia, until World War II, chain dancing was common at family and saint parties. In communist Yugoslavia, dance gradually became an organized activity partly in the local houses of culture, partly in semi- and full-professional dance ensembles. The chain dance kolo and other dances in 2/4 time can still be experienced, eg at weddings. In Eastern Serbia, the dance repertoire has been characterized by asymmetrical rhythms. For culture and traditions of Serbia, please check aparentingblog.
The country lacks modern equipment and technology, and viticulture has been more characterized by quantity than quality. The best white wines are made in Vojvodina, where laški rizling (welschriesling) is the leading grape along with sauvignon and tramines. The town of Smederova south of Belgrade has given its name to the grape smederevka, which here produces fruity and richly spiced white wines. Montenegro’s specialty is the vranac grape, which can create dark and powerful red wines. Many of the best red wines are made from the French grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot on private vineyards in the Niš area.. The annual production is about 5 million. hl (1995).