The new Slovenian Philharmonic (1947)

After the War was won in 1945, the situation changed in the field of music. New cultural institutions necessary for the preservations of a nation’s identity appeared, including musical ones.


Thus in 1947, the decision was made to found a new Slovene Philharmonic. Among its initiators were the composer Marjan Kozina, the conductor Samo Hubad and the musicologist Vlado Golob. Their initiative was supported by Edvard Kardelj, a leading politician, and the Slovene government, following a proposal on 30th December from the education minister Dr Potrč, passed the decision to found a new Slovene Philharmonic, as well as defining its activities with a constitutional paper.


The Slovenian Philharmonic had a symphonic orchestra, a mixed choir and youth choir (until 1952), a string quartet (known as the Ljubljana Quartet) and an agency which organised concerts (which became independent in 1952).


The orchestra was made up of musicians from the Radio Ljubljana Symphonic Orchestra  and members of the Trieste Philharmonic. The latter came to Ljubljana accompanied by the conductor Jakov Cipci. Both choirs transferred to the new institution from the Radio.


1948–1950
Marjan Kozina –  director and artistic director 
Jakov Cipci and Samo Hubad – permanent conductors 
Rado Simoniti and Valens Vodušek – choirmasters


The first concert of the new Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, led by the Spanish conductor Salvador Bacarisse, took place in the great Union hall on 13th January 1948.


Lucijan Marija Škerjanc – director and artistic director (1.9.1950 to 26.1.1956)
Jakov Cipci – permanent conductor (1948–1955)
Samo Hubad – permanent conductor (1948–1966)
Bogo Leskovic –  permanent conductor (1951–1958)
Lovro Matačić –  permanent conductor (1955–1956)


“… the beginnings were pretty modest and a lot of effort has been required for the Philharmonic to take up the prime position in our concert life in such a short time” .(Lucijan Marija Škerjanc: “In the Middle of the Concert Season” (Concert Sheet, No. 7/I, 1951/52, p.73. ))

 
In 1952, the “performing collective of the Slovenian Philharmonic, the orchestra and the choir” received the Prešeren Award for the 1950/51 concert season.


The 1954-1955 season was started with a completely new plan of work and with a considerably altered programme policy. The new ideas succeeded: the number of people attending concerts grew (from 500 season-ticket holders in the 1953/54 season to 1500 in the 1954/55 season!). Three different season-tickets were introduced – “yellow”, “green” and “red” – with seven concerts each. 


Rudolf Starič – acting director, (26.1.1956 to 15.10.1956)
Marijan Lipovšek – director and artistic director, (19.10.1956 to 31.12.1964)
Rado Simoniti, Valensa Vodušek, Janez Bole, Jože Hanc and Samo Vremšak – choirmasters


Popular season tickets were an innovation at the end of the fifties. The emphasis was on concerts for the young and concerts by young artists, as well as on new Slovenian works. This was all the result of a need for a different programme, that would serve as a sign post “to the kind of programme policy we are striving for”. Marijan Lipovšek: “Aspects of the Programming of Slovenian Philharmonic Symphonic Concerts”; Concert Sheet, No 1/X, 1960/61, p.1).


Ciril Cvetko – director and artistic director, (6.12.1965 to 31.12.1969) 


The season ticket concerts by the Slovenian Philharmonic were enriched by many excellent soloists and conductors, among them the violinists Yehudi Menuhin and Henryk Szering and the celebrated pianist of the time Arthur Rubinstein. The concerts involving these artists were conducted by Bogo Leskovic.


In the second half of the seventies, the Slovenian Philharmonic experienced a major threat. In the midst of preparations for the celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the foundation of the Philharmonic and the twentieth anniversary of the new order, a suggestion came from the RTV Ljubljana that the Radio, Opera and the Philharmonic orchestras be united into one. The choir was to be dissolved, and the Philharmonic archive and the building on the Trg revolucije would become the property of RTV Ljubljana. Everyone involved in the field of culture vehemently opposed the idea,  speaking in favour of preserving all three orchestras, justifying the need for them and stressing their importance.


The then Republic Secretariat for Education and Culture drew up a report on the proposed unification of the three Ljubljana orchestras and concluded that the results would be catastrophic: the number of symphonic concerts would fall by two-thirds, the savings would be minimal, the opportunities for different programme policies would be greatly reduced, etc.


In the previous twenty years the Slovene Philharmonic had made around 1500 appearances, playing more than 800 Slovene and Yugoslav compositions, whilst the average attendance at concerts was around 90%.
Nastja Žgur – acting director (1.1.1970 to 30.9.1970)
Darijan Božič – director and artistic director (1.10.1970 to 30.9.1974) 
Oskar Danon – chief conductor (1970–974)
Anton Kolar – assistant conductor (1972–1979)
Uroš Lajovic – assistant conductor (1972)


Darijan Božič started his work as director with great ambitions for the Slovenian Philharmonic orchestra to become the best in the country, with a quality comparable to other European orchestras. And so the internationally-acclaimed conductor Oskar Danon was brought to Ljubljana from Belgrade as a chief-conductor.


“The three basic tasks set by the artistic management of the Slovene Philharmonic are: to raise the quality of the orchestra, to focus on Slovene creativity and to concentrate on Slovene musicians.” The first task was in the forefront of that season, whilst the second and third were constrained by circumstances. Božič maintained that “everything cannot be done at once, and trying to rush very rarely produces good results in art”. The number of season-ticket cycles remained at three, they were still named after colours, but now subtitles were added (“symphony”, “concert” and “poetic themes in music”).


In the season (1972–1973), Božič introduced a new season-ticket arrangement. Instead of three, named after colours, there were 6 season-ticket cycles, according to the interests of the audience. 
Many Slovenian artists also appeared with the Slovenian Philharmonic orchestra. An important contribution was made by Marko Munih (1963-1971), who was Švara’s and then Matačić’s pupil, and Anton Nanut (1980-81), who conducted the orchestra mainly in the second half of the seventies.


Anton Kolar – acting director (1.10.1974 to 1.2.1975), 
Marjan Gabrijelčič – artistic director (1.2.1975 to 1979), 
Dragiša Ognjanović – organisational-financial director (1976 to 1980) 


Marijan Gabrijelčič presented his vision at the start of the 1976-1977 season in the following words: “A new season is ahead of us, in which we are part of the common search for artistic experiences. Unity is dictated by composers’ messages from the past and present, as well as by our aspirations to increase our capacity to respond to these messages.”

“In this 30-year period we have been shaped by our contacts with both old and contemporary musical ideas. These have given birth to the creative passions of our artists, which had not been able to take proper root in the past. Nearly all the forces of Slovene musicians were combined by the uniting role of the Philharmonic. The wide-reaching and multi-faceted Slovene Philharmonic was not just the point of contact for the concert presentation of music. Its educational and creative stimulants are two equally important characteristics, and beyond them there is an even greater obligation – to keep pace with international musial developments and thus gain the recognition of our creative independence. The path to acquiring this last characteristic was long and arduous. It has now been partially tried and trodden, but a major task for the future is the wide and thorough exposure of all our musical forces to the open world of music.” 

But above all, he emphasised guest appearances, the number of which had grown in the period between 1975 and 1978 “with such speed that it is interesting to demonstrate it with the following fact: the Slovene Philharmonic made more guest appearances in this period than in the previous 26 years combined. Similarly, more Slovene works were presented in many European countries and in the USA (among others, works by Bravničar, Božič, Ciglič, Stibilj, Lebič, Ramovš, Osterc, Kozina and Srebotnjak)”. 


The Slovene Philharmonic Orchestra appeared at various festivals and events: at the Warsaw Autumn, at festivals in Ascona and in Mons, at the orchestra festival in New York (Carnegie Hall), in Salzburg at a season-ticket concert, in Switzerland, at the days of Yugoslav culture in the Soviet Union, and so on. Since the War, the Slovene Philharmonic had made guest appearances in 11 countries, in 105 towns and 40 smaller places in Slovenia, and in 16 Yugoslav towns. 


During Gabrijelčič’s period as director, the Philharmonic choir ceased to exist (1976), which caused problems in the performance of vocal-instrumental works. The gap was filled to a large extent by the amateur ‘Consortium Musicum’ (led by Mirko Cuderman) and other choirs. The management of the Philharmonic was divided into organisational-financial and artistic sections.


Uroš Lajovic – acting director (1.10.1974 to 1.2.1975)
Boris Šinigoj – director (1981 to 1998) 
Ivo Petrić – artistic director (1979 to1996)
Uroš Lajovic – permanent conductor
Milan Horvat – permanent guest conductor (from 1981)


Ivo Petrić addressed the season-ticket holders at the start of the 1980/81 season: “Music is that universal art, which unites different cultural elements and helps us to bridge time differences across the centuries. The nobility and penetrative powers of the human spirit have always been able to communicate through the language of music the truth about the time and the place in which that music was created. And this is why we like so much to surrender ourselves to its messages, listening to the sounds of the past, as well as to current questions posed in the creations of contemporary composers.” 
In June 1982 the doors of a new cultural centre opened in Ljubljana, first with a promotional concert, followed in the autumn by the official opening.


The Slovenian Philharmonic was now able to transfer the majority of its concerts to Cankarjev dom, where the large hall is equipped with a large organ with four manuals. The number of visitors trebled, the large symphonic orchestra was now appearing in this acoustically much more suitable hall, as that in the Philharmonic building was too small for large performances due to acoustic saturation.


The artistic director of the Slovenian Philharmonic, Ivo Petrić, wrote after this season that “all the possible doubts about the justification of the new cultural centre and of symphonic concerts being held there have been dispelled by the audience’s great interest in the Slovenian Philharmonic’s season-ticket concerts, resulting in a record number of visitors.” 


Season ticket concerts were full, any free seats taken immediately. “Is this just a one-night wonder, the attraction of a new hall, the new sound we were previously not used to in Ljubljana? A kind of new snobbism? Petty bourgeoisie, as some critics have described the phenomenon? Or could it be the result of hard work and the effect of the acoustics in the large hall, where everyone feels good: the orchestra, the soloists, the conductors and the audience?” asked the artistic director.


Mojca Menart – director (1998 to 2002)
Marko Letonja – artistic director and conductor (1996 to 2002)
Mirko Cuderman – artistic director and choir conductor (1999–) 


In 1999, with the incorporation into the Slovenian Philharmonic of the Slovenian Chamber Chorus, which had been founded in 1991 as an independent body and led since its inception by Mirko Cuderman (assisted by Marko Vatovec), the Philharmonic finally acquired a vocal ensemble which facilitated more detailed and long-term planning not just of the vocal season-ticket cycle, which the choir had been performing for some time, but also of some great vocal-instrumental works.


Jelka Ladiha – acting director (2002–2003)
Monika Kartin – artistic director (2002–2005)


Damjan Damjanovič – director (2004–)
George Pehlivanian – chief conductor and artistic director of the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra (2005–2008)
Mirko Cuderman – artistic director and choir conductor (1999–2008)


Emmanuel Villaume – chief conductor and artistic leader of the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra (2009–)
Steffen Schreyer – Chief Conductor of the Slovenian Chamber Choir (2009–)