Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

Josif Marinković, Composer and Conductor
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Josif Marinković, Composer and Conductor

Josif Marinković was born in Vranjevo on September 3, 1851. His father, Jovan, was a farmer, and his mother, Mileva (born Savić), was a housewife.

He completed three grades of primary school in Vranjevo and the fourth grade of a German school in Petrovaradin. His year in Petrovaradin served as preparation for further education, which he continued in Novi Vrbas and Kikinda before completing teacher training (Preparandija) in Sombor.

It seems that there was quite a struggle between his parents' wishes and Josif's own inclinations regarding his education. It took nearly four years from finishing lower secondary school to enrolling in teacher training. Josif wanted to study music since he played four instruments as a child, while his father wanted him to become a doctor or lawyer. A compromise was reached, and Josif enrolled in teacher training.

In teacher training, Josif acquired his first knowledge of music theory and practiced and successfully conducted a choir. He also began composing in Preparandija. Soon, he performed his first compositions with the choir, encouraged and supported by his teacher, who not only helped him succeed with the choir but also in composing. His first compositions performed with the choir were "Ustajte braćo" and "Smeša srpskih narodnih pesama".

In 1873, at the Saint Sava celebration, Josif played his instrumental compositions "Banatsko kolo" and "Svatovac". His mother and older sister attended the event, traveling from Vranjevo for the occasion. The audience warmly received all compositions, and his mother and sister were thrilled.

After completing teacher training, and further struggles with his father, he went to Prague to attend the Organ School, which he successfully completed in 1881. In Prague, his strong talent was shaped, and he gained knowledge that enabled him to rank among the greatest music creators. At that time, he was the most skilled choir conductor in Belgrade and Serbia.

Immediately after finishing his studies in Prague, he received an invitation from the Belgrade Singing Society and became its choir conductor in 1881. He remained with the Belgrade Singing Society for five years as a choir conductor while also working as a music teacher at the Belgrade Seminary and later at a teacher training school. His diligence and seriousness in work were quickly noticed, leading him to further professional development in Vienna, which was also his desire.

After his studies in Vienna, he moved to Kikinda, where his parents had meanwhile relocated, and stayed there until 1889. He returned to Belgrade in 1889 and became the choir conductor of the Academic Singing Society "Obilić", where he remained until the end of his conducting career — for a full eleven years. In "Obilić", he created a large number of diverse compositions and developed his conducting abilities. During that time, he helped many choirs in Belgrade, Zemun, and throughout Serbia with his knowledge and experience. He created many works that he performed with the choirs he conducted.

With his compositions and choirs, he participated in all major events in Belgrade and throughout Serbia. He was considered a highly respected figure in cultural life, and he received numerous awards accordingly.

The Serbian Learned Society (which later evolved into the Serbian Academy of Sciences) elected him as a full member in January 1884.

The Serbian Royal Academy of Sciences admitted him as a corresponding member in April 1907.

In addition to all the highest honors, he received many charters and diplomas from singing societies and choirs where he worked or otherwise gained their respect.

A particularly notable recognition was the magnificent celebration held on December 11, 1897, commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of his artistic career. The singing society "Obilić" organized an academy that involved around ten singing societies and several choirs from Belgrade and Serbia.

During the peak of his success, he fell ill with throat problems, which forced him to part ways with the conductor's baton and "Obilić," which meant a lot to him in life. From that year, 1901, until his death in 1931, he focused on composing. After thirty-seven years of teaching, he retired as a music professor from the Second Belgrade Gymnasium in 1924.

Even after ten years, his "Obilić" members did not forget him, and on May 16, 1910, they organized "Marinković's Evening" at the National Theatre. On that occasion, he received many gifts and two silver wreaths: one from "Obilić" and the student body, and another from high school students, who presented him with a laurel wreath. It is worth mentioning what happened after the concert ended, as rarely before or since has any creator experienced such outpourings of enthusiasm.

In general excitement, the "Obilić" members carried him out of the hall on their shoulders, unhitched horses from carriages, and themselves took him to the venue where a reception was held in his honor.

Marinković was an exceptionally modest man who enjoyed life without much noise or excitement. After the First World War, as Branko Dragutinović says, he "remained somewhat on the sidelines, abandoned and forgotten. Much of this was contributed by the popularity of Mokranjac and his songbooks, as well as the wave of modernism that so strongly engulfed our musical culture in all its manifestations. However, this conclusion is not acceptable because this did not only happen to Josif Marinković at that time; many other creators from various fields of art and literary creation experienced the mercilessness of the youth."

Our late, talented writer Branimir Ćosić describes that period as one where the entire group of older writers and artists who created at the beginning of the first decade of the twentieth century and worked until just before the First World War were pushed aside by "the youthful and unrestrained roar of the newcomers, the new ones, who before the war were still in high school desks and who, suddenly realizing their worth, thought at one moment that literature and art could be created without any connection to the past. This movement was strong, brutal, and, we must admit, sympathetically received..."

Many of the creators, still under the fresh impressions of wartime bloodshed, experienced crises and completely withdrew from public life due to the movements and actions of the youth, while some even abandoned further creation. Fortunately, Josif Marinković, although severely affected by the new way of life, did not stop creating. Publication and expected practical use of Marinković's compositions were lacking, but all due to such treatment of earlier (older) creators. Josif, living within his family circle with his wife Leposava and three children, composed and created until his death. His last composition bears the date of April 28, 1931, and fifteen days later (May 13, 1931), Marinković passed away.

Josif Marinković's legacy is significant: a music professor at the Theological Seminary, Teacher Training School at the Second Belgrade Gymnasium; a choir conductor in many singing societies: Belgrade Singing Society and "Obilić," Davorje, Workers' Singing Society, Serbian-Jewish Singing Society, and "Stanković"; a successful composer of over one hundred and fifty compositions that became popular and beloved.

His commitment to the life of his people was expressed in many compositions for significant events, such as the celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, the transfer of the mortal remains of Vuk Karadžić, the liberation of Svetozar Miletić, the celebration of Josif Pančić, the two hundredth anniversary of Ivan Gundulić, the transfer of the bones of Branko Radičević, and others.

The extent to which he felt the spirit of his time is evidenced by the fact that he attached importance to the emergence of the young working class in Serbia. He was accepted as the choir conductor of the Workers' Singing Society in 1890, when he wrote his first artistic composition dedicated to our working class, "Radnička pesma" (Worker's Song) based on the text by Vojislav Ilić.

Marinković was the first Serbian composer to systematically cultivate solo song. He left a series of excellent compositions in this genre, whose value was confirmed by time. They remained in the repertoire of our singers as living evidence of the extraordinary sensitivity of the composer. Predrag Milojević said about his work: "Through his solo songs, Marinković laid the foundation for this musical form, in which we, in a short span of time, equated ourselves with nations with much greater musical culture and tradition."

The greatest significance of Marinković's artistic creation is his contribution to the creation of the Serbian national style in art music. Influenced by the idea of Vuk Karadžić, Kornelije Staniković pointed out the path that Serbian music should take, but unfortunately, due to his premature death (at the age of thirty-four), he did not have the opportunity to realize his ideas and confirm them with his work in full. Josif Marinković embraced and implemented this magnificent idea through his rich work. He further developed this direction and found new paths for Serbian music to follow and evolve. Thus, his kolas (folk dances) were created, representing artistically shaped collections of folk songs. On the same basis, Mokranjac's beautiful songbooks were later created.

Being naturally quiet and calm, lyrical music suited Marinković, but when it was necessary to remind the youth of their patriotic duties, his voice would rise — as Predrag Milošević says — "to great heights and high dramatic intensity. In those moments, Marinković knew how to find strong accents and carry and ignite the youth with his sincere ardor, as in the famous choral compositions: 'Junački poklič' (Heroic Shout), and especially in the glorious composition 'Hej, trubaču' (Hey, Trumpeter)."

Josif Marinković's work and personality were widely praised at his funeral on May 14, 1931. In addition to numerous wreaths and a large procession, several eulogies were delivered: Petar Krstić, a composer, bid farewell on behalf of the Ministry of Education; Dr. Miloje Milojević spoke on behalf of musicians; Boško Bošković on behalf of the professors of the Second Belgrade Gymnasium; Professor Lukić on behalf of the Union of Singing Societies; Branko Dragutinović on behalf of "Obilić"; Bogdan Vasić on behalf of the Singing Society "Marinković"; Velimir Komarek and Vojislav Rašić on behalf of the Music School; and Veljko Petrović on behalf of the Serbian Royal Academy of Sciences.

Veljko Petrović said at the funeral, among other things, that with Josif Marinković, the last representative of the passionate Serbian Romanticism of the nineteenth century, which signifies a classical period for our spiritual life, lies in the grave. "Only times of great enthusiasm evoke great creators. And great enthusiasts, those in love with their calling to the point of exhaustion, are capable of accepting, continuing, and building upon the work of past generations. Only the fervent love of our romantics for the nation and homeland and their mystical belief in the national future and in the calling of poets and artists could make them strengthen foreign models, lessons, and technical means to support their national spirit... Thus, Josif Marinković reached into the heart of the nation with his hymns, melodies, folk songs, and kolas. The people felt their soul expressed in his personal musical phrases, even though these were not motives borrowed from guslars."

"There were people who, on rare encounters with this quiet, shy veteran, took off their hats knowingly, as before the greatness equal to their brothers, in internal fire and inventive power: Zmaj, Đura Jakšić, Laza Kostić, Đorđe Krstić."

Josif Marinković passed away on May 13, 1931, in Belgrade.

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