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Jelena Jovanović

(b Vranje, Serbia, June 11, 1897; d Feb 21, 1969). Serbian singer (pesmopojka) and song writer. She was one of the most prominent performers of the 20th-century Serbian and Balkan urban vocal tradition. Widely known as a veseljak (lively character), she was respected for her fidelity to local traditions, for her intensely expressive and nuanced vocal style, and for her dedication to bring out the meaning of the texts she sang. She started singing at a very early age; as a young girl she was paid for her singing. She sang in her own home on everyday occasions, to guests, and at family and public celebrations. Her repertory encompassed love, family, and narrative songs, mainly concerning specific events, places, and personalities of Vranje. She is the author of the song ‘Dimitrijo, sine Mitre’, one of the hallmarks of Vranje vocal tradition, which traces its roots in tradition found in written sources from the late 19th century onwards and still practiced today....

Article

Trena Jordanoska and Dimitrije Bužarovski

(b Glišikj, Kavadarci, Republic of Macedonia, 1918; d Skopje Sept 25, 1976). Macedonian folk singer. His lyric tenor voice, with its distinctive timbre (simultaneously light and warm), was recognized soon after his first performance in Radio Skopje in 1948, and it was established as a model for the male vocal repertory of traditional Macedonian music. He sang softly, with richness, in a narrow piano dynamic spectrum, and with delicate use of vibrato and ornaments. He became an idol among Macedonian audiences worldwide and has been adored by Balkan audiences as well, taking tours in Europe, Canada, USA, and Australia.

His recorded repertory of over 230 songs (without variants) is published on dozens of LPs and cassettes. 359 recorded songs have been digitized and stored in the Buzarovski Archive (BuzAr) in 2005. His diverse repertory was carefully selected with a refined musical taste, mainly from urban traditional songs of all genres—love, elegiac, patriotic, and humorous songs. His voice was well suited to ensemble performance, resulting in duets with V. Ilieva, A. Sarievski, Mirvet Belovska, Dragica Nikolova, Blagoj Petrov Karagjule, Violeta Tomovska, E. Redžepova, Anka Gieva, and Atina Apostolova....

Article

Vasil S. Tole

(b Përmet, Albania, May 2, 1929; d Përmet, Jan 26, 2014). Albanian folk music performer. A clarinettist and vocalist, nicknamed ‘Përmeti’s nightingale’, founder of the instrumental iso-polyphonic group (saze ensemble) in the Southern town of Përmet (1944–2004). At a young age, he showed a special ability to design and make instruments. He was taught to play the lute and the clarinet by the saze masters in the city of Korçë. Then his family returned to Përmet, where he joined the saze of Vangjel Leskoviku (1944). At Përmet, he organized his own saze and participated in the Folk Music Festival in Tirane (1952), where he was awarded the First Prize for the best folk clarinettist. His saze was composed of a clarinet, two lutes, two accordions, a frame drum, and a violin. The saze played instruments and sang at the same time. He is a composer of songs, clarinet ...

Article

Trena Jordanoska and Dimitrije Bužarovski

(b Skopje, Macedonia, Dec 21, 1923; d Skopje May 4, 2001). Macedonian folk singer. Her recognizable, very expressive, nasal mezzo-soprano voice, praised for its pureness, its precision, quality, and rich ornamentation, brought her the attribute ‘The Uncrowned Queen of Macedonian Folk Song’. Sharing her professional career and celebrity status with the first generation of singers performing for Radio Skopje in the 1950s and 60s, she is among the singers who influenced the interpretational model of the repertory of traditional Macedonian music.

Born in Bošnjačko maalo, Čair, in a family of musicians (her father Todor Boškov was a gajda player in the ensemble Tanec), her first employment was at the tobacco factory in Skopje. Her first professional performances with the Tanec folk ensemble at the beginning of the 1950s with the songs ‘Niko Meandžiko’, ‘Što imala k’smet Stamena’, and ‘Air da ne storiš majko’ contributed to her engagement as a singer for Radio Skopje in ...

Article

Catherine Wojtanowski

(b Sarajevo, Yugoslavia [now Bosnia and Herzegovina], 1925). American singer and guitarist. Growing up in a Sephardic Jewish community, she learned Balkan folklore as well as traditional songs in the Ladino language with guidance from her grandmother. In 1946 she married a serviceman and immigrated to the United States, where she has become known as the Flame of Sephardic Music because of the strength of her commitment to this unique musical heritage. In addition to transcribing, performing, and teaching traditional Ladino material, Jagoda has composed and arranged new Sephardic songs. She also has performed material drawn from biblical verses, poems, and prayers. She has recorded several albums, which often recall her early experiences, including Memories of Sarajevo (1996) and Kantikas di mi Nona (Songs of my Grandmother) (1996). She also published The Flory Jagoda Songbook: Memories of Sarajevo (1996), which includes songs and stories about her family history. She is featured in the documentary ...

Article

Stephen D. Winick

[Michael ]

(b Limerick, Ireland, Nov 15, 1944). traditional Irish singer, mandolinist, banjo player, and bandleader of Irish birth. Moloney became interested in traditional Irish music as a university student. He began bringing his banjo and a tape recorder to music sessions in County Clare, where he met members of the Tulla Ceilidh band, as well as accordionist Tony MacMahon, fiddler Sean Keane (who would later join The Chieftains), banjo player Des Mulclair, and uilleann piper Willie Clancy. Inspired by the Clancy Brothers and the Dubliners, he and his friend Donál Lunny formed several folk groups. In the late 1960s, Moloney, along with his roommate, guitarist and singer Paul Brady, was asked to join the folk group the Johnstons, which performed a combination of traditional Irish songs and modern singer-songwriter material by such writers as Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. They became immensely popular in Ireland, recorded many albums, and were able to tour widely on both sides of the Atlantic....

Article

Nicholas Tochka

(b Dukagjin, Albania, May 15, 1922; d Tirana, Albania, May 1972). Albanian folk singer . Born in the mountainous north-western region of Albania known for its rich folklore, he was an innovative performer on the çifteli, a two-stringed plucked chordophone used to accompany epic singing. Through radio and television broadcasts, his style as a rapsod, or epic singer, became highly influential. Rapsodë traditionally performed songs with heroic or historical themes in a strophic form accompanied by a simple unison instrumental part. Neli extended traditional performance techniques by creating more complicated, literary texts and lively, sometimes virtuosic, accompaniment patterns. Discovered at an amateur folk festival in his home district in the late 1950s, he became a member of the award-winning Folkloric Ensemble of the Mati Region. He came to national attention at the first National Folk Festival in Gjirokastër in 1968, and his repertory formed one of the primary bases for the collection of the Institute of Folk Culture. He also recorded a large number of songs for broadcast by Radio Tirana....

Article

Karel Steinmetz

(b Ostrava, 7 June 1953). Czech folk singer, poet, and composer. After completing his studies at Gymnasium (1971) and at a school of librarianship, he entered the field of popular music as a writer of lyrics (he has written song texts principally for singers from Ostrava). As a guitarist, violinist, flautist, and accordionist he is entirely self-taught. In the 1980s he began to appear at Czech festivals of folk music, singing songs of his own with their distinctive texts. Gradually he has become one of the most popular of Czech singers. He mainly sings his own songs, but also translations of songs by the Russian composers Vladimir Vysotsky and Bulat Okudzha, and settings of the poems of Aleksandr Blok. He has set, and sung, poems by the Czech poets Petr Bezruč and Jiří Šotola. His songs owe their popularity largely to the fact that he sings of ordinary people living ordinary lives; they are lyrical and epic, and often ironical and extremely funny. Nohavica is fond of using the dialect of the Ostrava and Těšín region. He has also produced successful translations of opera libretti for works performed at the Ostrava Opera (for example, Mozart’s ...

Article

Vasil S. Tole

(b Tirana, Albania, April 3, 1933; d Aug 13, 2003). Albanian singer . Performer of the homophonic folk music of Central Albania, mainly the urban songs of Tirana, which she learned from her family. She was the youngest daughter of Bab Rexh Delia, honoured with the title ‘People’s Hero’. She grew up in a well-known Kruja family, recognized for cultivating folk music and songs in family celebrations. At about 15 years of age, she sang at the (State) Radio Television and made her first recordings of folk songs, accompanied by the central Albanian folk music orchestra directed by Muharrem Gura and Skënder Reka, which consisted of Skënder Reka on accordion, Liu i Nushit and Çerçiz Mehmeti on violins, Reshit Shehu on frame drum, Mustafa Zyberi on clarinet, Riza Selita on contrabass, and Emil Miloti and Fadil (from the Army’s orchestra) on guitar. She started her singing career at the Tirana Variety Show Theatre (...

Article

Trena Jordanoska and Dimitrije Bužarovski

(b Galičnik, June 20, 1922; d Skopje, Dec 19, 2002). Macedonian folk singer . He is considered a legend in the branding of songs from the western Macedonian region (Mijaci). He recorded 390 songs (for Macedonian RTV Music production and others) both as a soloist and in duets. Sarievski’s clear tenor voice is characterized by his very rich but subtle ornamentation of the melody. This is particularly evident in free tempo (ad libitum) songs such as Zajdi, zajdi jasno sonce, which has remained as a symbol of Sarievski’s special timbre and vibrato.

During his childhood he absorbed the music tradition of the village of Galičnik and its internationally famous wedding ceremony Galička svadba. His family moved to Skopje in 1931, where he became a member of the amateur folk ensemble Šar and performed while accompanying himself on an accordion. In 1945 he attracted attention at an audition for talented folk singers at Radio Skopje with the song ...

Article

Nicholas Tochka

(b Dragobi, Albania, June 18, 1948; d Tirana, Albania, Aug 12, 1987). Albanian folk singer . A path-breaking woman performer from the mountainous north-eastern region of Tropoja, she became one of Albania’s most recorded folk singers before her premature death from kidney disease in 1987. Following her first public appearances in her home village, she received a scholarship to study at the Arts Lyceum Jordan Misja in Tirana. After graduation she was appointed music teacher to her home district, where she also performed in the Folk Ensemble of the Tropoja District. She accompanied herself on the çifteli, a two-stringed plucked chordophone traditionally associated with men’s repertories in northern Albania. For a woman to accompany herself in this manner was ground-breaking, and fit into socialist ideological campaigns on the emancipation of women. She performed këngë trimash and këngë heroike, traditional men’s songs of valour and heroism about historical topics. She also recorded a number of highly popular works about the socialist autonomous province of Kosovo in Yugoslavia, including ...

Article

Karel Steinmetz

(b Vsetín, Moravia, 27 June 1929; d Vsetín, 11 Feb 2017). Czech folk singer. Trained in dressmaking, she worked between 1945 and 1949 as a furrier’s seamstress. From 1950 until her retirement in 1985, she was the manager of a shop selling gramophone records in her native town. Her musical talent, inherited from her parents, was evident from her youth, when she began to appear as a singer in local choirs and folk ensembles. From 1952 she was a soloist with the Brněnský rozhlasový orchestr lidových nástrojů (BROLN, ‘Brno Radio Orchestra of Folk Instruments’), with whom she performed hundreds of times in the then Czechoslovakia and also abroad (in Vietnam, China, Mongolia, the USSR, Korea, Cuba, Belgium, the UK, Senegal, Bulgaria, Romania, Japan, the USA, Canada, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, and Denmark). She also performed with various folk ensembles (Vsacan, Jasénka, Kyčera, and the dulcimer ensemble Technik, whose leader, Jan Rokyta, decisively influenced her later development as a singer), and between ...

Article

Vasil S. Tole

(b Përmet, Albania, May 12, 1924; d Tirana, Albania, April 9, 1992). Albanian opera and folk singer. He was named People’s Artist of Albania in 1975. He was born in a family of traditions in folk music and dance. He spent his childhood in his hometown. In 1943, he joined the guerrillas and became part of the (guerrilla) army music bands. He joined the choir of the Army Ensemble at its creation in 1946. From 1952 to 1955 he studied singing at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. Afterwards, he was nominated soloist at the Theatre of Opera in Tirana, where he sang most of his bass-baritone repertory, including the song Për ty atdhe (‘For You Homeland’) by Pjetër Gaci (1931–95), the romance O ju male (‘Oh You Mountains’) by Çesk Zadeja (1927–97), and arias from the cannonic repertory. He made his first recordings of iso-polyphonic songs with ...