Chanson - Singers Songwriters

Format: CD

Šifra: 113819

EAN: 3838898113819

If I look at these
poems today,
I know not whether
their reading
has any value,
all I know
is that they are a fragment
of some life.

Excerpt from the novel Levitan,
read by Radko Polič


It is only in recent years that the 20th century writer, dramatist and essayist Vitomil Zupan has also gained a reputation as a poet. In prison (1948–54), he wrote 25 collections of poetry (approximately 2,000 poems). Having gained his freedom – which he was granted neither officially nor unofficially, but simply took for himself – his poetry remained in the shade of his great novels (Komedija človeškega tkiva, Menuet za kitaro, Levitan), and until now its potential for musical performance has remained entirely concealed.
Amongst the poetry collections from prison, musical notation based on specific well-known compositions, mainly from the period before the Second World War, was found for approximately 40 of the poems. Zupan knew the music of that period well, as he had travelled through numerous countries from Turkey to Portugal. In addition, he spoke foreign languages, had a fundamental music education and played the guitar. We have undertaken extensive research and discovered the compositions on which Zupan wrote his new texts. The selection has also been expanded by certain new poems set to music by Jan Kovačič.
The connecting thread of the album “Evergreens and Songs from Prison” is a sketch of the period to which Vitomil Zupan belonged, and of the feelings of a poet who, with a fearless imagination and pure hope, “resisted death”.
Vitomil Zupan wrote all of the poems in prison in the years 1948–54.

We begin with Maliki  (Idols), a “letter to his mother”. This song shows Zupan settling accounts with the values of the modern post-war world, but still, unusually for him, remaining passive. Despite the lies, the truth is revealed. Steza v mraku (Path in Twilight ) is sung to the tune of the Italian song La strada nell'bosco (1943), although the extraordinary number of variations and arrangements cover the original. Based on the canzona style, it was a type of song that was very popular at that time. Zupan’s lyrics had to be arranged anew, as he apparently only hummed the refrain. Galjoti (Prisoners) is a song of prisoners, dead people and galley slaves, imagery that was often used by Zupan. Balada o poželenju (Ballad on Desire) is a prison ballad, a variation on George Brassens’ Chanson pour l'auvergnat (1954) in 6/8 time. In prison, passion and desire become torture; something that in life makes you carry you on, in prison makes you sick. Mestni log (At the Edge of the Town) is written on the melody from L'auberge au crepuscule. The topic of secret meetings between sweethearts in suburban taverns, which Zupan transferred into Slovenian, is a stock theme in lyrics from that time. Ljubljanska pomladna romanca (Springtime Song of Ljubljana) is a pop song. Writing such songs was an important task at that time, as the genre was in need of development, a fact that Zupan recognised when working at national radio. It is set to music in the spirit of the popular songs of the time. Zadnja noč (The Last Night) refers to the last night in prison, which is a vision of every prisoner. But what if it is the last night of your life? A prisoner may have little value, but a dead prisoner has no value at all, and those who are still alive take everything for themselves, whatever they can, with no shame. Sinji most iz gorja (Bridge over Horror) was written to the tune of J'attendrai, which was one of the most popular songs of the 1930s and 1940s. It was a remake of the Italian Tornerai, which was composed by Dino Olivieri but became world famous with French lyrics. Mladost (Youth) was written to the melody of the song Douce France by Charles Trenet (1943), written during the composer’s forced work in Vichy’s France. Trenet was an incredibly popular singer and songwriter, and this particular song was very popular after the Second World War. Zupan adds fugacity, and what is left is only a memory. In Seguidola – Pikapolonca (Ladybird) a selection of text is made, as the entire song has 12 stanzas. The music reflects the memory of Jani Kovačič’s meeting with Vitomil Zupan at the writer’s house in Beli Križ in the 1960s, when Vitomil strummed some Spanish tune. It is presumed that Zupan played Temni Blesk (Dark Glitter) himself. However, his lyrics are much more profound than the typical songs of that time, of which our melody is reminiscent. Neznanki (To the Unknown Woman) is a song about listening to footsteps in the night and the fantastic images that emerge from the bliss and yearnings that follow, images that form life’s nucleus. Smrtna želja (Death Wish) was written to the melody of Adieu mon coeur (1946), a song that we associate mainly with Edith Piaf and that is still played today. Here it is slightly more poignant due to the fact that the lyrics were created in prison. Finally, actor Radko Polič narrates two excerpts from the novel Levitan by Vitomil Zupan.

He had his table in Miki’s Pen Club. He was known for being elegant, cosmopolitan and charismatic, dressed in a black outfit completed with a tie or a silk scarf, a velvet jacket, with his hair slicked back and styled with nut oil. The chief of the parade. The star of the club. A dandy.  A dude. Woland from Mikhail Bulgakov‘s The Master and Margarita. He had a reputation due to his romantic aureole of a war hero, an eternal rebel and a champion of the pen. He was always in the company of some hot babe. We have yet to encounter such a unique figure among Slovenian writers.
Dušan Jovanović, director, dramatist, essayist

Vitomil Zupan was a synonym for gesamtkunstwerk. He was an anonymous man who turned the Slovene language into platinum; a left-wing falcon who would seek a podium for pouring out his wild nature; a gladiator who wanted to rehabilitate the nation. He was ahead of his time, a time that in one way or another never actually existed. If he had not existed, he would have been beyond our imagination. His literary texts could only be read out loud. They were like a tune you hear in the morning and you cannot get out of your head all day long.
Marcel Štefančič, film critic, TV host, writer

It is thanks to Vita Mavrič that, in addition to traditional theatre genres, Slovenia has for many years been able to boast extremely high quality music theatre, in particular chanson. By founding Café teatra in 1994, she broke new ground in this theatrical genre, which, although being well established and supported by tradition abroad, only manages to survive in Slovenia due to the efforts of Vita Mavrič. As the artistic director of Café teatra, in 2000 she also established a chanson festival, naming it after the celebrated musical signature of Edith Piaf, La Vie en Rose. With this festival, she developed a second very successful music theatre “brand name”. With a series of renowned and successful foreign guests, Vita Mavrič has for 15 years brought freshness, guided the development of chanson, and filled the Gallus Hall of the Cankarjev Dom Cultural Centre in Ljubljana, earning a solid international reputation for the festival while at the same time investing a great deal of effort into its promotion throughout Slovenia and abroad. Over the years, La Vie en Rose has become the flagship of Café teatra, and of chanson in Slovenia in general. Within the framework of this genre, Vita Mavrič has left an indelible mark and a priceless historical theatrical footprint. With her extraordinary dedication, enthusiasm, energy, effort and goodwill, she has, for all of these years, endeavoured to ensure that Slovenian chanson, poetry set to music, cabaret and musicals are not just left to the elements and to chance, but are given a home and the conditions for sustainable development. Vita Mavrič is unique in the Slovenian scene, and is a highly valued theatre personality, without whom the fan of Slovenian performance art would be much more monochromatic. It is particularly worth emphasising that, for all of these years, she has struggled as an independent author, artist and producer, and with her boundless enthusiasm and iron will has nonetheless succeeded not only to preserve the genre of music theatre, but to continuously enrich it.
In 1987, Vita Mavrič began her music theatre career on the stage of the Ljubljana City Theatre in the principal role of the highly successful musical U slovenačkim gorama (In the Slovenian Mountains). Soon after, with her first independent music-poetry recital Pesem je ženska (A Song is a Woman), she finally dedicated herself to Slovenian chanson. In the subsequent years, she initiated nine very diverse original music-theatre projects (Ježek, Brecht, Klezmer, etc.), appeared in numerous television productions and film projects, released six independent albums, and played a number of roles in musicals. In 1994, she founded Café teatra, and in 2000 she initiated the international chanson evening La Vie en Rose, with which she continues to ensure the development and popularity of chanson today. With her projects, she has appeared successfully both in Slovenia and abroad. Vita Mavrič is the recipient of the Ježek Prize, the Zupančič Prize, various media awards and the Award of the City of the Ljubljana for her entire artistic opus.

Jani Kovačič has written poetry, satire and popular songs from the very beginning. At the same time, he also composes complex sonic images. His texts are enriched by an aphoristic style, ironic syllogisms and childlike naivety. He is a town folk singer, an inventor, an explorer of the human mind and an immortal individualist, while also having a great appreciation of human stupidity. “Stupidity is king!” Jani Kovačič is a real antihero and a supporter of the new humanism, as well as of solidarity, brotherhood, diversity and a comfortable life. Fame is an unnecessary burden that makes things predictable. He first presented the songs of his new cycle Akkkustik teArter at the venue KUD France Prešeren. He gave up publishing songs completely, leaving us only with his performances and their unique delirium and memory bombs. When Slovenia gained its independence, he foretold a period of privatisation in all its forms in his Tolovajske balade (Bandit Ballads). The year before Slovenia’s entry to the European Union, he predicted a loss of identity and naked greed in his Bulvar Bankrot (Bankrupt Boulevard, 2003). He bid his farewell to the 20th century in Balade s ceste (Street Ballads) I and II. His work PostBožični Psalmi (Post-Christmas Psalms) predicts a new era of post-biblical and post-mythical proportions. Jazz has become the global ethno, and in Jazzitette (2006) Jani Kovačič creates a new type of urban jazz. In 2009, he wrote a book KNJIGA, and prepared a concert entitled Prastare pesmi (Ancient Songs). In 2010, he performed with a pocket brass group, presenting the programme Dizel Slavček & Godba na dihala (Diesel Nightingale and the Respiratory Band) at concerts and festivities, as well as in the streets. A CD with the RTV Slovenia Big Band, entitled Cerberus Hotel – Jazzitette was also released the same year. In 2011, a compilation of songs about the corrosion of global society was entitled Bureau sombre (Dark Bureau). In the book of short stories Socialitete ino štorijali (Socialitee & Storials) one can find a selection of many rhyming and non-rhyming stories and lessons from the post-industrial era. Jani Kovačič continued his collaboration with the RTV Slovenia Big Band in 2012 with Silicone Times - Jazzitette2, from the programme Akkustik teArter, representing a new achievement for NUJ (New Urban Jazz). In 2013, he prepared Besne pesmi (Furious Songs), catchy tunes for the use of everyday uprisings. In the 2014/15 season, he collaborated with Vita Mavrič in Brecht and Nepozabne (Unforgetable), as well as at a concert of songs of Vitomil Zupan.


1. MALIKI / IDOLS 1:56
(Jani Kovačič / Vitomil Zupan)
Excerpt from the novel by Vitomil Zupan
(La strada nell'bosco – Cesare A. Bixio/Ermenegildo Rusconi/Nicola Salerno)
(Jani Kovačič / Vitomil Zupan)
(Chanson pour l’Auvergnat ­– Georges Brassens / Georges Brassens)
(L’auberge au crepuscule – Alex Alstone/Roger Seiller/André Viaud)
(Jani Kovačič, Vitomil Zupan)
(Jani Kovačič / Vitomil Zupan)
(J'attendrai – Tornerai – Dino Olivieri /Nino Rastelli)
10. MLADOST / YOUTH 2:28
(Douce France – Charles Trenet /Charles Trenet )
(Jani Kovačič / Vitomil Zupan )
(Jaka Pucihar / Vitomil Zupan )
­(Jani Kovačič / Vitomil Zupan)
Excerpt from the novel by Vitomil Zupan
(Adieu mon coeur – Marguerite Monnot/Henri Contet)


Lyrics: Vitomil Zupan
Music: Jani Kovačič
Arrangements: Jaka Pucihar, Anže Langus - Petrović, Jure Rozman in/and Boštjan Grabnar


Vita Mavrič : vocal
Jani Kovačič : vocal & guitar
Jaka Pucihar : piano
Anže Langus-Petrović: double bass
Jure Rozman: drums
Boštjan Grabnar : accordion
Radko Polič : reading