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He was born in Čakovec, Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary, Croatia) into the Štolcer family. Here he attended elementary school but later studied music in the class of Zoltán Kodály in Budapest and Vítězslav Novák in Prague. He also studied in Paris, France.
Štolcer started his career as a music teacher in Zagreb in 1923 but soon, in 1924, he moved to Belgrade. Like another Yugoslav composer, Jakov Gotovac, he was a Pan-slavic and Yugoslav national romantic whose work was strongly influenced by regional and national heritage. The sounds of home, its own history and heritage were in his works masterfully expressed new sequence of universal time. He observed the sound heritage of the cultures of the east, hoping to find the environments unchanged by the influence of the modern world.
Štolcer-Slavenski lived in Belgrade until his death in 1955. Josip Štolcer's Memorial Collection, established in 1965 in Belgrade, contains original manuscripts and scores, tapes and records, as well as numerous other objects and musical instruments from the composer's home. Several music schools in Serbia and Croatia were named after him.
His best works are incorporated in a symphony named Simfonija Orienta (Symphony of the Orient) for soloists, choir and orchestra as well as in another symphony Balkanofonija (Symphony of the Balkans). Further he composed numerous piano works, violin sonatas, string quartets, and solos; his best-known choir songs are Voda zvira and Romarska.
- Međimorje kak si lepo zeleno (Međimurje, how beautifully green you are)
- Raca plava po Dravi (Swimming duck on the Drava river)
- Tu za repu tu za len (Catch for turnip and catch for flax)
- Imala majka tri jedine kceri (A mother had three daughters)
- Biography at the Music Information Centre of Serbia's website
- Free scores by Josip Slavenski at the International Music Score Library Project
- On the page is talking composer Josip Štolcer-Slavenski has 'written for the Bosanquet Enharmonium with 53 tones in an octave'
- Facsimile of the 53EDO piece preface by J. Slavenski.
- Josip Štolcer-Slavenski Legacy, Belgrade
- Biography in Serbian on muzickacentrala.com
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