Aleksandar Vujić sitting by piano

Who was Aleksandar Vujić, whose compulsory piece has been performed at the 50th IJMC Belgrade?

 

Aleksandar ''Šaca'' Vujić, composer, conductor, pianist and university professor has left an indelible imprint on both the Serbian and the international music world with his extensive and comprehensive opus. He received degrees from three departments from the Faculty of Music in Belgrade - piano, conducting and composition, and obtained a Master's degree in piano in 1970. He did further studies at The Frantz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and partook in the international conducting seminars with maestros such as Igor Markevitch, Kurt Masur and Sergiu Celibadche. He worked at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade since 1974, and from 2001 to 2002 he was the dean of artistic work. He headed the Orchestra of the Faculty of Music on two occasions, as well as being the founder of the Madrigal Choir of the Faculty of Music in Belgrade. He received a gold medal for his remarkable achievements in music both at home and abroad.

Aleksandar Vujic

 

Aleksandar's profound connection with Serbian spirituality goes back to the time when he was a student and when he conducted the Choir of Belgrade Priests and also the Religious Charitable Trust Choir of the Archdiocese of Belgrade and Sremski Karlovci. He was the director of the ''First Belgrade Singing Society'' from 1981 to 1985 and again for its 150th anniversary. Also at the same time, from 1980 to 1987, he was the choirmaster of the ''Baruch Brothers'' Choir. For two years (1994/95) he worked with the Choir of the students at the ''Summer Sacred Academy of Jeunesses Musicales'' in the Monastery Studenica. In October 2002, he won a gold medal in the category of spiritual music at the Second World Choir Olympics in Busan, South Korea, with the ''Juventus Cantat'' choir from Sombor. This was a major international success for Aleksandar vujić as a choirmaster.

As a conductor, Aleksandar Vujić had achieved major domestic and international success, conducting Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, the Niš Symphony Orchestra, RTS Symphony Orchestra, RTS Orchestra in Podgorica, and most often, the Belgrade ''Sinfonietta'' Chamber Orchestra which he founded in 1987. He has performed across Europe, in Athens, Budapest, Munich, Stuttgart, Nicosia, Rome, Szczecin (Poland), also taking part in the festival of spiritual music in Delphi and Karditsa in Greece, as well as Israel and Venezuela.

He has scored a resounding success with his composing opus. In 1993, he won the 3rd prize in Trent (the first was not awarded) at the International competition for choral works (with the work Had gad-ja), and in 1995, at the prestigious Robert Schumann international composition competition in Zwickau, he won first prize for his work Vaterunser (our Father, Otče naš) for a female choir, and at the same competition, in the category of the mixed choir, he won a prize with his work Ehre sei Dir (Glory to Thee, Slava Tebi). These international awards opened the doors to the world music scene and hence his works have been performed at a number of important events worldwide. His choral composition Ehre sei Dirs was performed on the occasion of the 850th anniversary of the Altenburg monastery in Austria, and during the international festival of chamber music.

Aleksandar Vujic conducting

 

In the same year, to honor the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Aleksandar Vujić was commissioned by the city of Friedberg, Germany, to write the Friedensmotette (Peace motet). In 1999, Professor Max Frey gave the lecture The Portrait of the Composer Aleksandar S. Vujić in Rotterdam at the Fifth World Choral Music Symposium. In 2000, his composition Gloria opened the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Frantz Liszt Academy of Music. In June of the same year, at the 250th anniversary of J. S. Bach's death, the commissioned composition Singet dem Herrn for two mixed choirs was performed for the first time at the festival in Schleswig-Holstein in the city of Lübeck. It seems, at first sight, that the work of Aleksandar Vujić is primarily concerned with choral music; it is, however, very versatile. Among a great number of solo-chamber, vocal and vocal-instrumental works, a notable one is Serbian kolo (Serbian Round Dance), originally written for a string orchestra.

...''The freshness and energy expressed y this music, its charged rhythm overlapping with the wide melodic line in the middle section of the composition, has made it very popular and resulted in over 26 commissions for various ensembles. The work has become a true classical music sensation, which in itself is a rarity nowadays...'' (M. Adamov, musicologist)

The original version of Serbian Round Dance for solo violin and string orchestra was performed for the first time by violinist Stefan Milenković and the St. George String Orchestra (Gudači Sv. Đorđa) at the formal opening of the International Forum of Composers, in 2009.

Aleksandar Vujic and the orchestra

 

In 2013, Banja Luka commissioned the oratorio Golgotha of Jasenovac (Golgota jasenovačka), the composer's most important composition. The work was premiered in ''Banski dvori'' on May 8, 2013 under the direction of the composer himself.

In 2014, the Canzone 11 choir from Munich commissioned the choral work Laudate Dominum on the occasion of the reconciliation between the Germans and the Poles. The work was performed in St. Anne's Church in Warsaw.

For his dedicated work and extraordinary artistic achievements, Aleksandar Vujić received numerous awards such as the Zoltan Kodaly Medal presented by the Hungarian Government (1983), the State Medal of Israel (1983), and the Decoration of the President of the Republic of Serbia for cultural achievements (2014). Vujić is among seven Serbian composers noted in the Encyclopedia of Choral Music of the 20th Century published in America (Choral Music in Twentieth Century, Nick Strimple, Amadeus Press, 2002). As a composer and performer, he is deeply present in the music life of his country, connecting Serbian musical developments with European and worldwide trends. He said that there was no need ''to be a musical province'' and that culture should be equally cared for in all parts of Serbia. He thought that music, similar to other arts, has to communicate with the audience, as only then does it carry out its mission.

Aleksandar Vujić brought his career and creative work to an end on September 6, 2017.

 

Contemporaries about the man and the composer Aleksandar Vujić

 

''Aleksandar Vujić belonged to a small and select group of musicians endowed with Renaissance interests and education

Like the great composers of the past - Bach, Mozart, Liszt, Prokofiev - who were successful at various musical disciplines, Vujić, having graduated from three departments at the Belgrade Music Academy, favored particular areas at various periods in his life. In his youth, it was piano music, in middle age, it was conducting, and composing caught his interest as he matured. His creative work was at the very top of Serbian music.

It would be difficult to classify his opus in a single stylistic framework, because the combination of a Bartok-like attitude to ethnic affiliation, neoclassical and neo-baroque in form and his lyricism and sensitivity to the nuances of a text show a completely personal note. He was curious about various themes - historical, political, literary, and artistic, and in spite of being involved in artistic, pedagogical, organizational and social activities; he was always lighthearted, kind, available and popular among his many friends, admirers and students.''

Snežana Nikolajević
musicologist

''We appreciated his cheerful character, optimism, good intentions and a certain amount of positive or ''creative'' relaxedness, the characteristics which the author wove into a large number of works of different genres. The composer's personal traits radiate with fine energy and pronounced rhythms, especially when we have in mind the ''dancing'' character of Vujić's works, whose interesting metric combinations, namely, the motif material, are largely based on national folklore especially evident in his Serbian Round Dance. this composition is already on the repertoire of a large number of artists. It is their favourite and it can be said that it is inevitable, being very popular with the audience and showing another interesting approach of Aleksandar vujić: his need to hear the same work and see its form in various arrangements and how different interpreters experience and enrich it, adding their own shades and features.

The composition was performed for the first time at the International Review of Composers in Belgrade as a work for violin and strings, and since then, it has been composed in 27 arrangements. Serbian Round Dance is nowadays performed often and in various combinations. Such a variety was made possible because the composition was written in a minimalistic style and the interpreters and audience take delight in every given metamorphosis.''

Marija Adamov
musicologist

''Vujić, the winner of several international prizes and commissions for choral composition, commands a starkly beautiful diatonic style occasionally flavored by Balkan scales supported by open sonorities and a surprising, though fleeting, dissonance. His effortless contrapuntal writing, as exemplified in the exquisite little Ave Maria (published 1997 in the USA) for an unaccompanied mixed chorus, is particularly impressive.''

Nick Stimple
Choral Music in the Twentieth Century, Amadeus press 2002

Vujić's opus, particularly his choral works, is brought to light in the review article by Dagmar Klug in the German magazine Fono Forum for the compact-disc recorded by the Madrigal Choir of the Munich High School of Music and Theatre (Conductor: Max Frey). ''The impressions of the most varied music trends based on a religious tradition that we come across on the international choral scene are reflected in the distinctive stylistic diversity of Vujić's opus. However, it is not a strange mixture but a well-thought-out, exciting polysemy in pulsating rhythmics and a brilliant glittering of harmony and a bearer of, above all, a positive vital message.''

Dagmar Klug
Fono Forum (August 2001)

''Professor Vujić was undisputedly an exceptional person and a charismatic one, who showed great personal qualities and creativity, enormous creative energy, and as such charmed everybody around him. He had a profound impact on all the people he met and touched.''

Prof Mirjana Gotić, PhD

''I remember very well my first meeting with Aleksandar Vujić. He came to hear the rehearsal of the Munich High School of Music and Theatre Madrigal Choir in Munich. He approached me enthusiastically, congratulated me on a fine choral performance and the way we were singing. Afterward, we had an intensive professional dialogue and became real friends. Our cooperation resulted in us studying a lot of his compositions and recording them on disc. Aleksandar was full of ideas. We met on various occasions in Belgrade, Niš, Smederevo, and Budapest and of course, again and again in Munich. we will always remember his beaming smile, the way in which he showed delight, his great musical gift and his friendship.''

Max Frey
conductor, Munich

''The personality of Vujić is felt in every phrase, in every chord. Strong, full of energy, with deep understanding following the meaning of the text - at the same time gentle and conciliatory...

Thank you Aleksandar for having the opportunity to know you both as a man and as a musician, and for all of us in the Choir kanzone 11 to have a chance to be the first to perform your composition ''Laudate Dominum'', for having brought your music intensely closer to us without constraining us in our interpretation. Through your commitment and your compositions you have made an invaluable contribution to the peaceful coexistence and common music-making among various nations.''

Tanja Wawra
Conductor of the Mixed choir
Kanzone 11, Munich

Source: https://aleksandar-s-vujic.com/