January 5, 1942 |
Zvonko Bogdan (Cyrillic: Звонко Богдан; born January 5, 1942) is an eminent performer of traditional folk songs of Serbia, Croatia, Hungary and Romania, best known for singing about the Bunjevci. Apart from being famous as a singer, he is also a composer, painter and harness racer.
He was born in the town of Sombor (present-day Vojvodina, Serbia) during World War II to a Bunjevac family, when that part of Yugoslavia was under Axis Hungarian occupation. He spent his childhood on the salaš (farm) of his maternal grandfather Stipan Kukuruzar; his other grandfather Franja was a coachman, tamburitza musician and bon viveur. After a brief adventure in local Sombor theatre, he headed for Belgrade, in age of 19, to enter the drama academy, and started singing in Belgrade kafanas to earn for living, and he found himself in this job. The engagement in Belgrade's "Union" hotel, meeting place of numerous journalists and bohemes, boosted his career; for almost 30 years, he would sing in "Union" whenever he visited Belgrade. His first solo concert was held at Kalemegdan terrace. In 1971, he recorded "Hej salaši na severu Bačke", the song he would be forever remembered for. From 1972, he performed with Janika Balázs' orchestra on Novi Sad's Petrovaradin fortress, a hallmark of tamburitza music.
During the turbulent 1990s and Yugoslav wars, Bogdan largely withdrew from public performances. As he explained, "Simply, I wasn't in a mood to work. Also, the piracy took so much momentum that I was sick even of thoughts of composing and music... I hope those ugly times have gone and that we would be able to live like humans again".
In 2004, Bogdan performed in Novi Sad for the Exit festival, mostly devoted to pop/rock, also held on Petrovaradin fortress; it was a tribute of new generations to the old bard and the site which was the cornerstone of traditional music.
Bogdan sings both the original and also the traditional songs of Vojvodina and Slavonia accompanied by the traditional tamburitza orchestra. Some of the songs he composed himself, including his most famous "Hej salaši na severu Bačke" ("Hey, farms of Northern Bačka"). Some of his songs are also in Hungarian and Roma language.
Accompanying bands on his concerts are the Orkestar Mileta Nikolića (Orchestra of Mile Nikolić - the successor of the famous Orchestra of Janika Balázs) from Vojvodina and the Zagrebački tamburaši from Croatia. The late Janika Balázs and still living Jerry Grcevich are his favourite tamburitza musicians and co-workers. Zvonko Bogdan is still very active and he plays in Serbia and Croatia, and all over the world where Serbian and Croatian people live.
Bogdan is also a prolific harness racer, and horses and affection for them are common themes in Bogdan's songs. He is considered one of the most successful racers of Vojvodina  In 2001, at Zagreb's Hippodrome, he won the Hrvatski kasački derbi (Croatian Harness Race Derby), establishing a record that still stands.
Some of his most recognized songs are:
- Hej salaši na severu Bačke
- Osam tamburaša s Petrovaradina
- Bunjevačko prelo
- U tem Somboru
- Već odavno spremam svog mrkova
- Ne vredi plakati
- Govori se da me varaš
- Kraj jezera jedna kuća mala
- Fijaker stari
- Prošle su mnoge ljubavi
- Ko te ima, taj te nema
The most prominent Croatian tamburitza artists, such as Zlatni Dukati, Kićo Slabinac and Miroslav Škoro have recorded many songs that Bogdan wrote or is known for singing them. Zlatni Dukati made an album Starogradska pjesmarica in 1994, with many popular Bogdan's songs. Kićo Slabinac had also started in the 70s to sing tamburitza songs and part of his repertoire is very similar to Bogdan's. Miroslav Škoro, who is an apprentice of Jerry Grchevich, has a habit to perform in almost every concert "Ej salaši na sjeveru Bačke" as dedication to Zvonko Bogdan.
In 1990, Croatian poet Drago Britvić and composer Siniša Leopold wrote a song "Svirci moji" (Musicians of mine) especially for Zvonko Bogdan, for him to perform at the traditional festival of tamburitza songs "Zlatne žice Slavonije" in Požega, Croatia. Because of the Yugoslavia crisis, Bogdan haven't had a chance to make his performance, but Đuka Čajić stepped in and won the festival. It took more than a decade for Bogdan to publicly perform the song. In HRT show "Hit do hita", in April 2004, Zvonko Bogdan finally gave his premiere of "Svirci moji". Since then, it became a regular song in his repertoire. Krunoslav Slabinac and Zlatni Dukati have also recorded their version of this song that has become a tamburitza classic.
During the past years, Zvonko Bogdan has written few Croatian patriotic songs such as "Otvori prozor" (Open the Window), "Od Konavala pa do Zagore" (From Konavli to Zagora), "Markova čežnja" (Marko's Longing). In May 2003, on the Brodfest, annual tamburitza festival held in Slavonski Brod, Zvonko Bogdan won the "Ruka slobode" award ("Hand of Freedom") for the song "Od Konavala pa do Zagore". The song lyrics were declared the most patriotic lyrics written for Croatian tamburitza scene in 2002.
- Zoran Panović (2006-05-11). "Bački meraklija" (in Serbian). Danas.
- Nebojša Mijalković (2002-05-24). "Veliki gospodin pesme" (in Serbian). Balkanmedia.com.
- Jovan Tanurdžić (2006-12-30). "Ono vreme što se vratit’ neće!" (in Serbian). Dnevnik.
- P. Klajić (2004-06-30). "Tamburaši se vraćaju na Petrovaradinsku tvrđavu" (in Serbian).
- "Raspevane sulke Zvonka Bogdana" (in Serbian). Blic. 2005-01-17.
- Hrvatski kasački derby
- New Page 1
- Dogandžić, Aco (2000). Zvonko Bogdan: pesme i konji. Belgrade: Narodno delo. ISBN 86-489-0097-2. (Serbian)
- Tamburaland Artist of the month : Zvonko Bogdan
- Zvonimir Bogdan's entry at Croatian Composer' Society, Collecting Society Database
- (Croatian) XI Revija nove domoljubne pjesme Hrvatske – "Brodfest 2003" photo album including Zvonko Bogdan receiving "Ruka slobode" Award
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