Goran Bregović

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Goran Bregović
Background information
Birth nameGoran Bregović
Also known asBrega
Born (1950-03-22) 22 March 1950 (age 68)
Sarajevo, PR Bosnia-Herzegovina, FPR Yugoslavia
GenresRock, folk, world, film score
Occupation(s)Musician, film score composer
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals, bass
Years active1969-present
Associated actsBijelo Dugme, Kodeksi, Jutro, Kayah, Cesária Évora, Iggy Pop

Goran Bregović (Serbian Cyrillic: Горан Бреговић, pronounced [ɡɔ̌ran brɛ̂ːɡɔʋitɕ], born 22 March 1950) is a recording artist from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is one of the most internationally known modern musicians and composers of the Balkans, and is one of the few former Yugoslav musicians who has performed at major international venues such as Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall and L'Olympia.

A Sarajevo native, Bregović initially gained acclaim for his work in Kodeksi and Jutro, but rose to continental prominence as the main creative mind and lead guitarist of Bijelo dugme, widely considered as one of the most popular recording acts ever to exist in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and one of the most important bands of the Yugoslav rock scene. After Bijelo Dugme split up, he started to compose for films. Among his better known film scores are three of Emir Kusturica's films (Time of the Gypsies, Arizona Dream, and Underground). For Time of the Gypsies, Bregović won a Golden Arena Award at the Pula Film Festival in 1990, among his other awards.

Bregović, during his 5 decade long career, has composed for critically acclaimed singers, including Sezen Aksu, Kayah, Iggy Pop, Šaban Bajramović, George Dalaras and Cesária Évora.

Early life[edit]

Bregović performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City on 19 October 2011.

Born in Sarajevo, PR Bosnia-Herzegovina, FPR Yugoslavia to a Croat father Franjo Bregović and Serb mother Borka Perišić,[1][2] Goran grew up with a younger sister, Dajana, and younger brother, Predrag. Their father was from the Croatian region of Zagorje, specifically Sveti Petar Čvrstec village near Križevci, while their mother was born in Virovitica to parents that had shortly before her birth arrived in the nearby village of Čemernica, settling there from the village of Kazanci near Gacko in eastern Herzegovina. Goran's maternal grandfather, fought in the Royal Serbian Army at the Salonica Front during World War I and as a reward received land in Slavonia where he soon moved his family.[3]

Goran's parents met shortly after World War II in Virovitica where his mother Borka lived and his father Franjo (who fought on the Partisan side during the war) attended a Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) military school.[3] Franjo Bregović soon got his first job, teaching ballistics at a military school in Sarajevo, so the couple that at the time moved there.[3] Goran, their first child, was born in 1950 in Sarajevo.

Goran was 10 years old when his parents divorced. In later interviews, he mentioned his father's alcoholism as the reason for the breakdown of their marriage.[3] Soon after the split, his father moved to Livno, taking Goran's younger brother Predrag with him while Goran remained living with his mother in Sarajevo, visiting his father and brother every summer in Livno.[3] Their father soon retired and eventually moved back to his home village in Zagorje while Goran's brother Predrag later moved back to Sarajevo for university studies.[3]

Goran played violin in a music school. However, deemed untalented, he was thrown out during second grade. His musical education was thus reduced to what his friend taught him until Goran's mother bought him his first guitar in his early teens. Bregović wanted to enroll in a fine arts high school, but his aunt told his mother that it was supposedly full of homosexuals, which precipitated his mother's decision to send him to a technical (traffic) school. As a compromise for not getting his way, she allowed him to grow his hair long.

Early career[edit]

Bregović in concert in Tbilisi, Georgia on 3 October 2007.

Upon entering high school, teenage Bregović joined the school band Izohipse where he began on bass guitar. Soon, however, he was kicked out of that school too (this time for misbehavior - he crashed into a school-owned Mercedes-Benz). Bregović then entered grammar school and its school band Beštije (again as a bass guitar player). When he was 16, his mother left him and moved to the coast, meaning that other than having a few relatives to rely on, he mostly had to take care of himself. He did that by playing folk music in a kafana in Konjic, working on construction sites, and selling newspapers.

Spotting him at a Beštije gig in 1969, Željko Bebek invited 18-year-old Bregović to play bass guitar in his band Kodeksi, which Goran gladly accepted.


Eventually, Kodeksi shifted setup so Bregović moved from bass to lead guitar, resulting in Kodeksi having the following line-up during summer 1970: Goran Bregović, Željko Bebek, Zoran Redžić and Milić Vukašinović. All of them would eventually become members of Bijelo Dugme at some point in the future. At the time, they were largely influenced by Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. During the fall of 1970, this resulted in the departure of Željko Bebek, who (both as rhythm guitar player and singer) got phased out of the band. At the end of the year, Goran's mother and Zoran's brother arrived in Naples and took them back to Sarajevo.


Then, in the autumn of 1971, Goran enrolled at the University of Sarajevo's Faculty of Philosophy, studying philosophy and sociology. He soon quit, however. At the same time, Milić Vukašinović left for London, so Bregović formed a band with Nuno Arnautalić called Jutro (Morning), which Redžić soon joined as well. Over the next few years, the band changed lineups frequently, and on 1 January 1974 modified its name to Bijelo Dugme ("White Button").

Bijelo Dugme[edit]

From 1974 until 1989, Bregović played lead guitar and was the main creative force behind Bijelo Dugme (White Button). For years they stood as one of the most popular bands in SFR Yugoslavia.

Solo career[edit]

At the time Bijelo Dugme was falling apart, Goran entered the world of film music. His first project was Emir Kusturica's Time of the Gypsies (1989). This turned out to be a great success (both the film and the soundtrack). Goran and Emir's collaboration continued, and Goran composed music (which was performed by Iggy Pop) for Emir's next film Arizona Dream (1993). During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Goran lived in Paris, but he also lived in Belgrade. His next major project, music for Patrice Chéreau's Queen Margot was a great success as well, and as a result, the film won two awards on the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. The next year's Golden Palm award went to Underground, for which Goran Bregović composed the music.

In 1997, he worked with Turkish singer Sezen Aksu on her album Düğün ve Cenaze (Wedding and Funeral). After that album, he continued making composite albums with other musicians that were based on his music and singers' lyrics.

He made an album with George Dalaras in 1999 named Thessaloniki – Yannena with Two Canvas Shoes. In the same year, Bregović recorded an album called Kayah i Bregović (Kayah and Bregović) with popular Polish singer Kayah which sold over 700,000 copies in Poland (seven times platinum record).

In 2001, he recorded another album with another Polish singer, Krzysztof Krawczyk, titled "Daj mi drugie życie" ("Give Me Second Life").

In 2005, Bregović took part in three large farewell concerts of Bijelo Dugme.

A number of works created by Bregović can be heard on the soundtrack to the 2006 film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, most notably "Đurđevdan." The film itself actually features more Bregović samples than the soundtrack. Two musical numbers by Bregović, "Ne Siam Kurve Tuke Sijam Prostitutke," and "Gas, Gas" were featured in the soundtrack of the 2012 Brazilian novela, Salve Jorge, on the television network Rede Globo.[4]

Wedding and Funeral Orchestra[edit]

For many years Bregović performed with a large ensemble of musicians: a brass band, bagpipes, a string ensemble, a tuxedo-clad all-male choir from Belgrade, women wearing traditional Bulgarian costumes, and Roma singers make up his 40-piece band and orchestra.

Since 1998, and until about 2012, Bregović has been performing his music mainly in the form of concerts all over the world with his Wedding and Funeral Orchestra. This consists of 10 people (in the small version) or 37 (in the large version, although, in some instances, this number varies, depending on participants from the host country).

Since 2012 the orchestra consists of 9 people (in the small version) or 19 (in the large version), as it played in New York at the Lincoln Center on 15 July and 16 July 2016.[5]

The small orchestra consists of Muharem-Muki Redzepi (vocals, drums), Bokan Stanković (first trumpet), Dragić Velićović (second trumpet), Stojan Dimov (sax, clarinet), Aleksandar Rajković (first trombone, glockenspiel), Miloš Mihajlović (second trombone), female vocals Bulgarian singers Daniela Radkova-Aleksandrova, and Ludmila Radkova-Traikova, and Goran himself. The large orchestra includes also string quartet: Ivana Mateijć (first violin), Bojana Jovanović-Jotić (second violin), Saša Mirković (viola), and Tatjana Jovanović-Mirković, as well as sextet of male voices: Dejan Pesić (first tenor), Milan Panić and Ranko Jović (second tenors), Aleksandar Novaković (baritone), Dusan Ljubinković and Siniša Dutina (basses).

In previous years, in the orchestra the following musicians have performed: Ogi Radivojević and Alen Ademović (vocals, drums), Dalibor Lukić (second trumpet), Dejan Manigodić (tuba), Vaska Jankovska (vocals).

In 2013, as part of his Asia-Pacific tour (including Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong), Bregović performed with a string quartet, a male choir, Bulgarian singers and half of a brass band. The other part of the brass band - including bass and percussions - were being played from his computer. In 2017, he was a guest artist on Puerto Rican rapper Residente's album Residente on the song "El Futuro Es Nuestro" (Spanish for "The Future is Ours").


During the Eurovision 2008 final in Belgrade Arena, Serbia, he had a small concert.[6] He also composed the Serbian entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2010; 'Ovo Je Balkan' sung by Milan Stanković.

Musical style[edit]

Bregović's compositions, extending Balkan musical inspirations to innovative extremes, draw upon European classicism and Balkan rhythms.[7]

Bregović's music carries Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Greek, Romani, Romanian, Serbian, Albanian, Italian and Turkish themes and is a fusion of popular music with traditional polyphonic music from the Balkans, tango, and brass bands.

Personal life[edit]

In 1993, Bregović married his long-time girlfriend Dženana Sudžuka, a Bosniak model.[8] The wedding ceremony held in Paris featured film director Emir Kusturica as the groom's best man and longtime Bijelo Dugme backing vocal, Amila Sulejmanović as the bride's maid of honour.

The couple has three daughters: Ema (born in March 1995), Una (February 2002), and Lulu (May 2004).

Bregović owns real-estate properties all over the world, but spends most of his time between Belgrade, where most of his musical collaborators reside, and Paris, where his spouse lives with their three daughters.

He also has a daughter named Željka (born out of wedlock from a previous relationship) who gave birth to Goran's granddaughter, Bianca. He has a brother named Predrag who lives in New York City, and a sister, Dajana who lives in Split.

On 12 June 2008, Bregović injured his spine, falling from a tree. He fell four meters from a cherry tree in the garden of his home in Senjak, a Belgrade district, breaking vertebrae. However, according to the doctors, his condition was "stable without neurological complications."[9] After surgery, he made a quick recovery and on 8 July and 9 July, he held two big concerts in New York City, where for more than two hours each night, he proved his performance skills had not suffered from the accident.[10]

Political views[edit]

Bregović has described himself as Yugonostalgic.[8] He prefers to avoid delving into politics. In 2009, he said, "Yugoslavia is the intersection of so many worlds: Orthodox, Catholic, Muslim. With music, I don't have to represent anyone, except myself -- because I speak the first language of the world, the one everyone understands: music."[11] In March 2015, Bregović performed in a concert in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia the previous year. The following month, the Life Festival in Oświęcim, Poland cancelled an appearance by Bregović, saying that his statements were "contrary to the values cherished by the Life Festival founders."[12]

List of film scores[edit]

Goran Bregović Wedding and Funeral Orchestra in Donetsk: 15 March 2006.


With Bijelo dugme[edit]

Original movies soundtracks[edit]

Not all his soundtracks compositions are commercially available.


His compilations include soundtracks from different works.

Other albums[edit]

Guest performances[edit]

Honours and awards[edit]

  •  Albania: On 31 June 2006 he received a copy of the key of the city of Tirana by Edi Rama on the occasion of his visit to Albania.[14]


  1. ^ Goran Bregović was born in Sarajevo, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, a republic of Yugoslavia. His father was ethnic Croat, his mother Serb.[15] A Yugonostalgic, after the war he said that he "could only be a Yugoslav".[8] He has stated that he "is not enough Serb to be a Serb, nor Croat to be Croat, and not even enough to be Bosnian".[16]


  1. ^ Strogo kontrolisano disidentstvo;Naša Borba, 18 May 1997
  2. ^ http://www.goranbregovic.rs/biography/
  3. ^ a b c d e f Grujić, Nenad; Nikčević, Tamara (27 December 2012). "Cigani, juriš!". Vreme. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  4. ^ "Salve Jorge (Trilha Sonora da Novela) [". Musica.com.br. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  5. ^ Brochure for the concert in New York (PDF)
  6. ^ Video on YouTube[dead link]
  7. ^ Lincoln Center Festival website
  8. ^ a b c Glas javnosti 2000.
  9. ^ http://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/goran-bregovic-se-vraca-u-sarajevo-sa-porodicom/110107038#
  10. ^ Goran Bregovic plays in New York
  11. ^ Goran Bregovic to perform at PlayhouseSquare
  12. ^ "Polish festival drops Balkan maestro Bregovic over Crimea remarks". Agence France-Presse. 9 April 2015.
  13. ^ Pareles, Jon (20 January 2017). "Residente Chases His Muse, at the Genetic Level". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  14. ^ Received a copy of the key of the city of Tirana Archived 2011-10-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "Otac mi je bio Hrvat, majka Srpkinja, moja žena je muslimanka. U koga da uperim pušku? Nemam koga da mrzim". Novosti.
  16. ^ "Bregović: Nisam Hrvat, Srbin, a ni Bosanac, to je moj izbor". Blic.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Eurovision Song Contest
Final Interval act

Succeeded by