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Five Sketches (Pet Krokija) : for flute, clarinet, viola and harp / Milan Ristić

Genre: Kamermuziek
Subgenre: Gemengd ensemble (2-12 spelers)
Bezetting: fl cl vla hp

Duo : for violin and cello / Milan Ristić

Genre: Kamermuziek
Subgenre: Gemengd ensemble (2-12 spelers)
Bezetting: vn vc

Andante Dramatico : for violin and piano / Milan Ristić

Genre: Kamermuziek
Subgenre: Viool en toetsinstrument
Bezetting: vn pf

nieuwste editie

Andante Dramatico : for violin and piano / Milan Ristić

Genre: Kamermuziek
Subgenre: Viool en toetsinstrument
Bezetting: vn pf



Ristic, Milan

Milan Ristić is with a good reason acknowledged in Serbian musicology as one of the most outstanding composers of the generation that has entered the musical life before the Word War Two. He was born on 18th of August, 1908 (31st in Gregorian calendar) in Beograd, Serbia. In his parental house he was exposed to music from the earliest childhood. His mother was taught piano at the Music school, and it was from her that he received first steps in music instruction. His father was an ardent admirer of music, but wished his son to follow him in business career.
Along with his high school studies, from 1922 to 1927 (when he graduated), Ristić studied piano and other musical subjects at the State Music School (now renowned "Mokranjac Music School"). His piano teacher was Ivan Brezovšek. When he graduated, he already composed several piano miniatures, and felt a fervent wish to occupy himself professionally with composition.
Following his father's wish, he went to Paris to enroll in the School of Commercial Sciences, in which he never put an appearance during his year's stay in the city. He immediately applied to the Music Conservatory, to the class of Paul Foucher. However, he lacked enough knowledge in harmony, counterpoint and other musical disciplines, so Foucher directed him to his assistant Gabriel Pierson, who undertook to prepare him for entry to the Conservatory. In Pierson's class he got introduced to musical literature, studied strict harmonic structure after Dubois, wrote fugues, and filled in his theoretical education.
Ristić's faster progress in Paris was to some extent "hindered" by his intense interest in all forms of Paris art life. Together with several young Yugoslav students also staying there, he frequented literary clubs, theatres, museums. For some time, he shared loggings with Oskar Davičo (later renowned Yugoslav poet, with whom he went to the same elementary school in Beograd), who introduced him to the surrealist scene, and he became much attracted to its poetry, so much that, to Davičo's inducement, he even enrolled to the studies of world literature at the Sorbonne.
Further schooling was interrupted by the economic crisis of 1929, which severely affected Ristić's father. The hopes to complete music studies in Paris failed. Ristić returned to Beograd.
On completing his military service in 1930, he continued his music studies at the State Music School in Beograd in the class of Miloje Milojević, learning harmony and counterpoint. Although Milojević mainly insisted on strict classic harmonic approach, his class (apart from Ristić) included students who frequently initiated discussions about current trends in European music. A group of these (including Ristić) formed the GAK (Group of Atonal Composers).
After his father's death in 1932, Ristić was forced to ensure his existence by playing in Beograd's night clubs. Somewhere at that time, after a dissent with Milojević, he changed over to the class of Josip Slavenski. His further education became rather irregular; playing in various student orchestras, jazz groups and barroom ensembles took much of his time. Nevertheless, his first serious composition attempts happen right at this time.
Having destroyed some twenty piano miniatures written in Paris – works mainly in impressionist style – the only and the earliest saved composition is the Four Impressionist Pieces.
In both Milojević's and Slavensky's classes, Ristić, with his inquisitive spirit, brought in perturbation into the established school curricular routine. Milojević, did however accepted to explain the basics of Schönberg's teachings, and Slavenski passed on to Ristić his enthusiasm for music and his original ideas about the essence of musical art, but Ristić wanted concrete instruction on the newest techniques, practices, craft.
He sought an opportunity to go to studies in Prague. The basis of his inner self at the time was disquiet. Rebellion against hardship, desire to overcome it, ambition to perceive, to learn, to succeed. When an opportunity to go to Prague arose, he grasped it without hesitation, unafraid of uncertainties or hardship, and even humiliations. A group of barroom musicians from Beograd, formed in autumn 1937, got an engagement in Prague. Ristić became a pianist–associate in it. The ensemble had a great success in Prague. Accompanying the folk tunes, Ristić often held on his score stand on the piano Schönberg's theory of harmony, Bartok's quartets, scores of Stravinsky and Hába. In the Opera house, while he was replaced by a cymbalist in the ensemble, he succeeded to hear parts of Janacek's music dramas. Thus he gradually widened his horizons.
More serious involvement with the Prague music scene and systematic work on mastering elements of composition technique, Ristić begun only after meeting Hába, who accepted him to his class. Close contact with Hába, his understanding, were decisive, when, after a short time, the ensemble of Beograd musicians disbanded and returned home. With small savings, in uncertainty, Ristić remained in Prague. Hába engaged heartily to get for him a scholarship of the Czech–Yugoslav Society, that supported students in need. It was granted, a very modest sum, but sufficient for Ristić to stay in Prague until Germans entered the city. He completed all the requirements for the full course of composition at the Department of microtonal music of the Conservatory. And during this period he created his most avant-garde work, most notably Sinfonietta, which anticipated compositional approach that will be the basis of his later symphonic work.
In autumn of 1938 there was the Munich crisis. Hitler's armies stood at the Czech border, and then entered Sudeten area. The Yugoslav government of Milan Sojadinović issued an order that all student had to return to the country. Ristić, including some twenty students remained in Prague. However, when Hitler occupied Czech Republic on 15th of March 1939, all stipends were cancelled. Ristić went back to Beograd
On his return, he became associate–repetiteur at the Ballet studio of Radmila Cajić-Živković, who later became his wife. He also started working at the Beograd Radio Station as editor for music from gramophone records. He worked there until 1941, also as conductor, and piano accompanist. With onset of occupation of Yugoslavia by Germans, he refused to work at the Radio, and restricted his activity to work as repetiteur at the Ballet school of his wife. He was also very active as a composer and this period marked his mature expressionist phase. This period also brought him two personal tragedies: his first wife, Radmila Cajić died at the end of the war; he remarried after a couple of years, but his second wife died during delivery together with the child. He married his third wife in 1948, had a son with her in 1951 and lived a happy marriage till the end of his life.
After the war he returned to Radio Beograd, where for many years he occupied the responsible post of the vice chief editor of the music department, and from 1963 he acted as musical advisor to the Director of Radio Beograd
The postwar period in Yugoslav artistic life was marked by the dictum of social realism, which in music, primarily for the "Prague group", meant a stylistic retardation in form of a certain calming down the expressive manner. In Ristić's case, this reversal, although becoming milder with time, meant a synthesis of earlier avant-garde, as well as a resort to neoclassicism. Particularly his Second Symphony was considered a manifest of a new epoch in the history of Serbian music – neoclassic, or "moderately modern".
Developing his symphonic work in the following years (it was the core of his opus, and with nine of them, he is one of the most important of Serbian symphonists), Ristić, keeping the basic neoclassical approach, gradually reintroduced elements of expressionism (even, occasionally dodecaphony), but always maintaining a harmonious balance between rationality and emotionality.
In 1961 he was elected adjunct member, and in 1974, regular member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He held posts of the president of Association of Serbian Composers (1960–62, and 1972-74), as well as several times a member of the Chief Council of the Union of Yugoslav Composers. He was a recipient of numerous awards, medals and other honours. His works were widely performed at home and abroad. (A notable occasion was the performance of the Second symphony in the 1950s by Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, conducted by Ernest Ansermet.)
Toward the end of his creative life, Ristić returned to chamber music (three new string quartets – the last with a mezzosoprano), some piano music, along with his last symphony and a trumpet concerto.
Milan Ristić died in Beograd on 20th of December, 1982. In Serbian musicology there is a continuous interest for his opus, particularly symphonic, and many of his work gained a status of milestones in the development of music culture.

I made this translation primarily based on a compiled biography of Milan Ristić, written as part of the monograph Composer's Work: The Creative Development of Milan Ristić from the First to the Sixth Symphony, by (renowned) Serbian musicologist Maria Bergamo. Published by University of Arts in Beograd, 1977.
I also made use of the newer collection of musicological work Milan Ristić: on the Occasion of the Centenary of Birth, edited by Dr. Sonja Marinković, from whose introductory essay about Ristić's life and work I obtained several excerpts. The book was published jointly by The Department of Music of the Art University of Beograd and the Association of Serbian Composers, in 2010.

I am indebted to both authors for using parts of their books.
Jovan Ristić, son of the composer, Belgrade, 2019.