Berislav Šipuš: Three Short Tales from Blind Forest

February 9, 2022 / ISCM – CROATIAN SECTION

Berislav Šipuš (Zagreb, 1958) is one of the most active composers of the Croatian middle generation. Parallel with studying Art History at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, he had studied and graduated in
composition from the Music Academy in Zagreb in the class of Stanko Horvat in 1987. He pursued his education in composition with Gilberto Bosco in Udine (1986) and Alain Despres, François Bernard Mâche, and Iannis Xenakis in Paris (1987). He has mastered conducting with V. Kranjčević, Ž. Brkanović, K. Šipuš, and M. Horvat. From 1979 until 1982, he was a permanent piano accompanist at the Ballet of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb; from 1987 until 1989, he taught music theory at the Elly Bašić Music School in Zagreb; from 1988 until 1989, he was a piano accompanist at the Bermuda Civic Ballet, and in 1989 a producer for the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall in Zagreb. In 1989, he began his collaboration with the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, where he was a piano accompanist at the Ballet (1989 – 1999), orchestra conductor in productions of the Ballet (1997 – 1999), and then piano accompanist and assistant conductor for the Opera (1999 – 2001). At the same time, he was active in Zagreb, especially at the Music Academy, where was a lecturer of theory subjects (1988 – 1989), senior lecturer at the Department of Composition and Music Theory (from 1998), Associate Professor (from 2005) and Full Professor since 2009. Starting from 2013, Šipuš has been teaching composition at the Music Academy Zagreb. He has left an important impact on the Music Biennale Zagreb, first as its producer (1987 and 1989), and later as its artistic director (from 1997 until 2011). He was the director of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra from 2001 until 2005, as well as the artistic director of the national festival Osor Musical Evenings (from 2009 until 2011), and a president volunteer of the Jeunesses Musicales Croatia. In 2012 he became an associate member of the Department of Music and Musicology of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the founder and artistic director of the Cantus Ensemble, an ensemble for contemporary music, which traveled the world, performed more than 400 works and premiered more than 60 new pieces by Croatian and international composers. From 2011 until 2015, Berislav Šipuš served as Deputy Minister of Culture of Republic of Croatia, and from April 2015 until January 2016 he was the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Croatia. Berislav Šipuš has composed over eighty pieces of different genres for which he received many national and international awards: the University of Zagreb Rector’s Prize (1985), the first and the third prize at the 15th International Competition of Music Youth (Belgrade, 1985), the Seven Secretaries of SKOJ Award (1985), the Music Biennale Zagreb Award (1987), the Award of the Croatian Music Institute (1988), the Josip Štolcer Slavenski Award (1995), the Boris Papandopulo Award of the Croatian Composers’ Society (2002 and 2009), the Vladimir Nazor Award (2009), the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts Award (2012), etc. He was awarded the medal Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of France (2004), as well as the medal of the Order of Danica Hrvatska with the effigy of Marko Marulić (2009).

Three Short Tales from Blind Forest are a series of duets for violin and piano composed between 2004 and 2018).
The nomadism of studio and working life seems as a mere affirmation of Šipuš’s fascination with and devotion to the notion of a journey. One does not look for it nor is it achieved by conquering new areas, but is attained by the
gradualness of an Odyssean return. Nietzsche said: “The Wanderer does not recognize his path nor himself except in his own Shadow.” In the shadowy depths of sound arise violin music of long breadth and tension that is measured
and encouraged by the strength of piano motifs and energies, with amalgamated echoes of roving paths, as well as old sciences and music. “Mexico, verses by Itzia Zeron,” Šipuš remembers, “…perhaps even a forest through which she
walks, lost, SHE THAT AWAITS (perhaps for the distant echoes of Schoenberg and his Erwartung).”

Berislav Šipuš: Three Short Tales from Blind Forest
Katarina Kutnar, violina | violin
Katarina Krpan, klavir | piano