Chapter 7 (End)

It is impossible to attempt to compress the musical universe enclosed behind the iron curtain by decades in a single mini-series. A basic approach to the reality of the musical avantgarde in each one of the multiple, rich cultures of this great unknown which is Eastern Europe, nowadays in full development, would need the making of a book. Therefore, this mini-series will only be a brief vision, perforce incomplete, of this avantgarde style sustained on cultures maybe as ancient or even more so than those in the rest of Europe.


Iannis Xenakis is a well known musician of a Greek origin born in Rumania, who stayed there until the end of World War II, and settled in Paris since then.

Less well known are, on the other hand, some very important artists, as for instance Iancu Dumitrescu, an innovative New Music composer whose albums have quite a noteworthy international distribution. Or Horatiu Radulescu, an electroacoustic musician who has recorded some of his works at the IRCAM.

Mention must be made as well of Phoenix, a veteran band that combines folklore, Rock and experimentation.


Apart from the Female State Choir of Bulgaria, who achieved recognition in some countries with the release of their album "Mysteres" (where synthesizers and computers appear), there are not many artists with international prestige. Partly, this is due to the fact that synthesizers, a key element to make innovative music, were not available in this country until the late 1970s.

The pioneer of synthesizers in Bulgaria was Simo Lazarov, practising some sort of computer Jazz. 

Also important is the task by Vesselin Nikolov, an artist who has been very good at combining ethnic and avantgarde musics. 

Other artists to be taken into account are Krasimir Timov, Vladimir Ivanoff, Sergej Djokanov, Anguel Kotev, Vladimir Djambasov, Danail Draganov, Lubomir Denew and the band Dilemma.


Before the war, Yugoslavia was one of the Eastern European nations with a wealthier scene of alternative musics. Little by little, this scene is being recovered, yet, as is logical, things will never be the same again.


Born and brought up in Bosnia, Mladen Milicevic worked for the entire Yugoslavia as a movie soundtrack composer. He was awarded several prizes in festivals in Serbia, Croatia, France, and Sweden (where he stayed for a month sponsored by the Institute of Electroacoustic Music of Stockholm). He has performed in Ukraine, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, the United States, Greece, Costa Rica, Switzerland, France, Denmark, and Italy. He has taught in Bosnia and the United States. He has also made soundtracks for the cinema, radio, television and theatre. When I contacted him for the first time, he had recently settled in the United States, as a professor of the University of South Carolina. In a contact by mail I had with him during the war, he was very sad indeed. It is logical. Looking at his professional and personal trajectory in the former Yugoslavia one can understand that this senseless war has hurt him in more than one sense.


Stanko Juzbasic is an electroacoustic musician who, when I got news from him, was settled in Zagreb. He participated in some international festivals and was involved with the Musical Biennial of this city.


Other noteworthy artists from the ex-Yugoslavia are:

Composer Zagorka Zivkovic, settled in Sweden, who besides composing movie soundtracks has also worked in the written press and the radio.

Laza Ristovski, an ex-keyboardist of the band Smak, whose solo works are characterized by the use of the organ.

Boris Kovac, a virtuoso of World Music.

The ensemble Acezantez, devoted to ethnic fusion, sonic collage and electronic experimentation.


During this cruel war, numerous musicians settled in the former Yugoslavia, who being fellow citizens became members of warring peoples and communities, have disappeared or their track was lost.

After the end of the war, contact with several of them has been re-established, although the continuation of hostilites in different areas makes it rather difficult to recover some of the former contacts (the most common case is that of the people who left their home towns and now have trouble to come back to their old homes). Yet there are some of these musicians whose fate is unknown and whose personal circumstances prior to the beginning of the war seem to suggest a personal tragedy. In this sense, I will be grateful for any information forwarded to me about the current situation of alternative musicians from the former Yugoslavia. Whoever wishes to send me any data, can do so to this email of Amazing Sounds specifying that the message is sent to me:


Finally, a brief reference to two musicians:

In the curriculum vitae that Sergio Barroso sent me he says: "Canadian composer and synthesist". It is sad that an artist must reject his roots so as to keep the freedom of his art. This Cuban musician studied composition in Cuba and Czechoslovakia, microtonal composition in Czechoslovakia, and computer music in the United States. He has received awards in Cuba, Bulgaria, Colombia and France. He made an electroacoustic soundtrack for a version of "La Casa de Bernarda Alba" performed in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Nicaragua, Eastern Germany, Finland, the United States, Mexico and Spain. He has performed his works in numerous countries. He has released his albums in Russia, Canada, Cuba and France, among other countries. He was appointed for high posts at the University of La Habana and the Cuban Ministry of Culture. In 1980 he left his country of origin and cut any professional links with it.

Iury Lech has settled in Spain, after having remained in the United States for some time. The son of Ukrainian immigrants, he is a musician, poet and movie maker who has a global vision of art. Having studied the piano and Theatrical Direction, he has released several music albums, where he shapes his ideas of global Art, which he described to me in the musical mode as "A personal quest for a way of making music not lacking in impressionist roots". Some of his videoclips have been aired on TVE. He was selected within the area of literature for the Biennial Barcelona-87 / Bolonia-88. He alternates his artistic activity with the translation of literature and the reviewing of books.

As a final note to this series of articles, I am very grateful to the musicians who forwarded me information about themselves when we got in contact, which has been the basis for this series. I am honored for their confidence in me.

(By Jorge Munnshe)

If you wish to purchase any recordings by these artists you only have to use the links.

Iannis Xenakis

Vladimir Ivanoff

Iancu Dumitrescu

Laza Ristovski

Boris Kovac

Sergio Barroso

Iury Lech

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