Muzikologija 2005 Volume , Issue 5, Pages: 131-144
doi:10.2298/MUZ0505131M
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Sounds of lament, melancholy and wilderness: The Zenithist revolt and music

Milin Melita B.

The aim of writing this article is to analyze how the articles published by Zenith magazine (1921-1926) reflected the role of modern music within the framework of Zenithism - a movement relating to Dadaism and Futurism. The founder of the movement Ljubomir Micić and the Croatian composer Josip Slavenski both settled in Serbia and shared similar views concerning the Zenithist role of art. They sought to create a novel artistic expression free from Western influence, rooted in primitive and intrinsic creative forces of Eastern, and more specifically, Balkan peoples. Nevertheless, the intellectual sophistication and radicalism of their ideas differed somewhat whereas Micić was inclined towards experiment and provocation (i.e. his announcement of a Balkan "Barbarogenius"), Slavenski's aim was to revise and transform the archaisms preserved in old layers of folk music (primarily that of the Balkans), thus yielding an original modernist language. When in 1924 Micić moved from Zagreb to Belgrade, Slavenski was already there, only to leave for Paris in winter of the same year and remain there until the following summer. This may explain Slavenski's single contribution to Zenith, a piece composed before he met Micić. Zenith's articles on music included a positive account of Prokofiev, whose works were seen as representative of the movement's intentions. The article was an abridged translation of Igor Glebov's (pseudonym of Boris Asafiev) text printed in V'ešč (in German). Micić himself was the author of another contribution - a concert review, which served as an opportunity to express his views on contemporary music, one being an appraisal of Stravinsky whose music was felt to correspond to Zenithist aesthetics. He was labeled a musical 'Cubist', who composed music of 'paradox and simultaneity'. In the same article Antun Dobronić (a nationalist Croatian composer) was criticised on the basis that his music was not 'Balkanized' enough. Micić, who obviously had little or no musical education, was unable to find any musical critics who would adhere to his views. Several other articles in Zenith, such as concert reviews and literary texts with reference to both old and new composers, shed more light on the spirit of the movement and contribute to our understanding of it.

Keywords: zenitizam, Ljubomir Micić, Josip Slavenski, srpska muzika, jugoslovenska muzika, barbarogenije

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