Goran Bregovic describes himself simply as contemporary composer. Why then does his “contemporary” sound different from music of other contemporary composers?
Because Goran is from the Balkans. And in the Balkans “contemporary” is different.
What does his orchestra for Weddings and Funerals composed of a gypsy brass band, traditional Bulgarian polyphonies, an electric guitar, traditional percussion, strings and Orthodox Church male singers, read on Bregovic’s score sheets? Echoes from Jewish and Gypsy weddings, chants from Orthodox and Catholic Church, Muslim invocations. His music comes from that terrible frontier where for centuries Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims made war and lived together. Music that our soul recognises instinctively and the body greets with an irresistible urge to dance.
Born in Sarajevo of a Serbian mother and a Croatian father. After a few years of (very
unenthusiastic) music studies at the conservatory (violin), Goran forms his first group “The White Button” at the age of sixteen. Composer and guitar player (“I chose the guitar because guitar players always have most success with girls”), he admits his immoderate love for rock n'roll. "In those times, Rock had a capital role in our lives. It was the only way we could make our voice heard, and publicly express our discontent without risking jail (or just about)..."
Studies of philosophy and sociology would most certainly have landed him teacher of Marxist thought, had the gigantic success of his first record not decided otherwise. Follow fifteen years with his group "The White Button", marked by marathon-tours and endless sessions of autographing in which Goran plays youth idol in Eastern countries until he's sick and tired of it.
At the end of the eighties BREGOVIC takes time away from this permanent hustle-bustle to compose music for Kusturica’s "Times of the Gypsies", and to make his childhood dream come true: to live in a small house on an island in the Adriatic. The War in Yugoslavia shatters this, and many other dreams, and Goran has to abandon everything to find exile in Paris… starting point for roaming the world with his music that made him a honorary citizen of Buenos Aires, Tirana and Athens and honorary Doctor of Music from Sheffield University, UK.
Goran Bregovic is known for his MUSIC FOR MOVIES
Coming from the same background, the same generation, survivors of the same experiences, Goran BREGOVIC and Emir KUSTURICA formed a tandem which didn’t need words to communicate. After “Times of the Gypsies” Goran had a free hand to compose the original soundtrack for “Arizona Dream”. The music lives up to the film – poetical, original and incredibly enhancing. “One of the great things about Emir’s movies is that they show life exactly as it is – full of holes, hesitations and unexpected events. It’s this imperfect, unorganised side that I wanted to preserve above all. Even the songs recorded with Iggy are very under-produced. There’s just his voice and behind it a gypsy-orchestra blowing into old pre-war trumpets and cow’s horns. It’s really very simple.”
Patrice CHEREAU entrusts him with the music for “La Reine Margot”, Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1994. Goran delivers a majestic piece with rock accents.
The music for Emir Kusturica’s “Underground”, Palme d’Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, was also signed by Goran. But not the following film. A three year collaboration on “Underground” has worn everyone out and Emir has to find a whole new team for his next film.
Recently Goran composed spicy music with a “kletzmer” aroma for the “Train de Vie” of Radu MIHAELANU acclaimed by the critics in Venice, Sao Paulo, Berlin and by the public everywhere it was shown.
He has since devoted himself to the interpretation of his own music and lent himself to a second stage-career. Without completely abandoning the movies, however: Nana DJORDJAZE «1001 Recipes of a Cook in Love» in 2000, «27 Missing Kisses» in 2001, Unni STRAUME « Music for Weddings & Funerals » (original music and the main male role) in 2002, Venice Film Festival official selection. In 2004 Bregovic repeats the same adventure: he composes music and plays the main role in an Italian film entitled “Giorni dell’Abandono” (“The days of Abandon”) premiered in Autumn 2005, Venice Film Festival official selection.
Like a happy grown up child, Goran is honoured by collaborations with talented performers from diverse cultures – people he would have asked for an autograph not so long ago : Iggy Pop, whom he totally reinvents (Arizona Dream 1993), Ofra Haza (La Reine Margot,1994), Cesaria Evora (Underground 1995), Scot WALKER in UK, Setzen Aksu in Turkey, George Dalaras in Greece, Kayah in Poland. See more in frame on album “Champagne for Gypsies”!
SELECTED RECORDINGS :
« Time of the Gypsies »Polygram/Universal
« Arizona Dream » Polygram/Universal
« Toxic Affair » Polygram/Universal
« La Reine Margot »Polygram/Universal
« Underground »Polygram/Universal
« Ederlezi » compilationPolygram/Universal
« Bregovic & Kayah»BMG Poland
« Songbook »Polygram/Universal
« Music for Films »Polygram/Universal
« Tales from Weddings and Funerals»Polygram/Universal
« Goran Bregovic’s Karmen…»Mercury/Universal
« Alkohol - Sljivovica»Mercury/Decca
« Alkohol – Champagne for Gypsies»Mercury/Decca
released September 24 2012
Goran’s new album “Champagne for Gypsies”, is a reaction to the extreme pressure that Gypsies (Roma) have been experiencing lately across Europe (expelled from France, Italy, houses burned in Hungary...). It seems unfair to cover real problems with invented problems – gypsies are not a problem of this world, they are talent of this world. Everyone is impressed by gypsies – be they unknown gypsy on your street corner, or be they called Charlie Chaplin, Mother Teresa, Elvis Presley or Django Reinhardt. This album is meant to remind us of our favourite musicians who left a trace in popular culture around the world – Gypsy Kings, Gogol Bordello, Florin Salam, Stéphane Eicher...
SOME SPECIAL PROJECTS
In June 2002, Goran BREGOVIC united in the St. Denis Basilica (near Paris) three star singers from three religions with the Moscow orthodox choir, a string section from Tetouan in Morocco, and his Weddings and Funerals Orchestra, for a special project called “My Heart has become Tolerant” on the theme of reconciliation, commissioned by Festival of Sacred Music of St. Denis (that year entitled “From Bach to Bregovic”). Luciano Berio invited the same project to his Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome in July, another concert on the Esplanade of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Festival of Sacred Arts in Fez… and it can be said that another side of “contemporary music” composer has been added to Goran’s career.
In 2004 Goran BREGOVIC composed his first opera entitled “Bregovic’s Karmen with a Happy End”, the first Carmen with a K and a Balkan accent. A combination of naïve theatre and opera, “Karmen” was premiered in Italy on April 17 2004 and has since been performed over one hundred times. Written, composed and directed by Goran Bregovic (only a few quotes from Bizet’s “Carmen”), this gypsy opera is interpreted by his Wedding and Funeral Band.
In June 2005, Bregovic’s old legendary group “White Button” (Bjelo Dugme) came back together for a sold-out reunion tour of the capitals of three former Yugoslav republics. An audience of 70.000 in Sarajevo and Zagreb, and 200.000 in Belgrade proved him right in the hope that people separated by wars could at least share and enjoy a common musical heritage.
2006 was marked by a project entitled Three letters - concerto for violin and two orchestras, commissioned by ECHO (European Concert Hall Organisation) for a tour of ten concerts in major European concert halls* in April 2007, interpreted by Goran’s Wedding & Funeral Band plus Kristjan JÄRVI’s ABSOLUTE ENSEMBLE from New York – all under the direction of Kristjan JÄRVI.
*Megaron - Athens, Accademia di Santa Cecilia - Rome, Konserthuset - Stockholm, Salle Grande Duchesse Joséphine-Charlotte - Luxembourg, Theatre Des Champs Elysées - Paris, Philharmonie – Cologne, Concertgebouw - Amsterdam, Bozar - Brussels, Symphony Hall - Birmingham, Konzerthaus – Vienna.
2010 A new project for which he wrote both text and music “Margot, Diary of an unhappy Queen”, premièred at the Festival de Saint Denis, France June 7 and 8 2010. The format ‘recitando accompagnato’, involving the Goran Bregovic Weddings and Funerals Orchestra (brass, Bulgarian voices, voice/percussion, a male vocal sextet and a string quartet) plus an actress specifically chosen to say the text in the language of each country where “Margot...” is presented has conquered – among others - Concertgebouw Brugge, Salle Pleyel Paris, New Opera Festival in Caserta, Palace of the Arts in Budapest, Gulbenkian Hall in Lisbon, Theater an der Wien in Vienna, the Barbican Center in London....
2013 started with an incredible concert in the 5.000-seater hall Le Zénith in Paris to present Goran Bregovic’s most recent album “Champagne for Gypsies” with his 19-piece orchestra joined by all gypsy musicians who sing on the album. A feast!
Goran Bregovic plays some 120 concerts per year – 2013 was no different: March was filled with a 9-concert tour in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong and since then more concerts in Europe, US and a tour of six concerts in Mexico in October...
2014 - In parallel to world-wide touring, Goran is still working on his next opera “ORFEO DI BREGOVIC”, on a film and TV version of “Karmen with a Happy Ending” plus a symphonic version for his big band concert...
A charity concert that Goran Bregovic gave in Sarajevo with his ensemble and several other musicians from ex-Yugoslavia on December 19 2013 marked the creation of a foundation named "Gorica" after the traditional gypsy area in Sarajevo. The mission of this foundation is to help Roma talents in Bosnia to receive a musical education.
"You cannot help the Roma if you don’t give them education. Only an educated man is a free man. With Roma, it has always been the biggest problem ", says Bregovic.
Some PRESS on GORAN BREGOVIC
"It was party time…a Balkan free-for-all and the jam-packed auditorium went wild…The audience lapped it all up eagerly and the applause was so enthusiastic at the end of the show that Bregovic played no fewer than an extra five numbers..."-
The Jerusalem Post
"a populist world-classical music hybrid that went down a storm before a packed crowd."
"For the past four years [Goran Bregovic] has attracted the sensibility of the most varied audiences in Europe letting them taste something that stared out as original film music, and that ends up… the most beautiful, captivating, cross-breed visual symphony that has been woven over this last decade of the Twentieth Century. It is a mind-blowing return trip with no destination or port of arrival….A magnificent concert, one of the greatest marvels to be heard on stage today."
"Goran Bregovic….always surprises us with his compositions- they're crammed to the brim with catharsis and joy…the group channels both unbridled optimism and utter despair into succinct, sweeping vignettes."
-Time Out Chicago
"Goran Bregovic and his Weddings and Funerals Band…had the audience eating out of their hands…Bregovic makes a music that runs the spectrum from ecstatic, robustly earthy dance music, to naughty pop tunes, to vocal and string arrangements ripe with sentimentality, to quiet, contemplative pieces that can approach a spiritual intensity…a lyrical, beautifully paced evening"
"[Goran Bregovic's] concert is one of the most risky, devastating and attractive events going….within the shy soul of Goran Bregovic hides a rocker spirit, inspired by old quintessence of the 'genre', refurbished by post-punk rebellion….Goran has construed a unique and inimitable musical structure endowed with virtues and excesses inherent to that existential conglomerate. Goran Bregovic, the feverish imagination that has conceived this futuristic universe, sits attentive, innocent-looking, as if he never broke a plate in his life. Geniuses are like that. "
"The fashion of reviving all sorts of popular music in the most spectacular manners has recently set its heart on the musical world of the Gypsies…no one does it with the intelligence of...Goran Bregovic. The result of his inventions resemble no other. He is light years from them, both my means but even more by his ingenuity."
"One of the most beautiful symphonies of the Old Europe…[Bregovic] creates the most breath-taking music on this continent….His art is exciting tight-rope walking….intense, vigorous, colorful, passionate, exotic, fascinating."