Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

The musical landscape of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo
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Melodies through generations: The musical landscape of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo

As there was no heritage from the Middle Ages preserved in theatrical arts, the same goes for music. The medieval era in Serbian music couldn't serve as inspiration for the creation of Serbian musical art.

Fate had it, as it happened with theatrical arts, that a spark or perhaps a flame from which authentic Serbian musical art would develop shone from Vranjevo. When we say "spark," it might be a bit pretentious because that spark was ignited by Kornelije Stanković, who was from Budapest. Unfortunately, Kornelije died young and couldn't realize his ideas about musical creation among the Serbs. Fortunately, Josif Marinković from Vranjevo emerged, who began to implement Kornelije Stanković's idea.

Josif Marinković, the son of farmers from Vranjevo, completed his music studies in Prague and upon his return took on the role of conductor for the Belgrade Singing Society, and later the Academic Choir "Obilić", and later as a music educator and composer in Belgrade until his death in 1931.

Marinković began forming artistic groups even as a student in lower gymnasium (from 1865 to 1868). In his short autobiography, he writes about it: "During school breaks (holidays - editor's note L. M.), I formed a tamburitza orchestra with my friends, and from older people (merchants, craftsmen, officials, and peasants), I formed a choir that I taught by ear to sing liturgy and on holidays we sang in the church". A few years later, when he became a student at the Teachers' College in Sombor, he wrote about it: "During school breaks, I still had a choir, but I didn't teach them by ear... we organized speeches in Vranjevo and Turkish Bečej to support a poor student and the folk theater".

Marinković endeavored to further develop the love of his countrymen for song and music. He aimed to follow in the footsteps of Jovan Knežević, who created a theater in Vranjevo, and take similar steps in music. The fact that he valued Knežević's endeavor is evidenced by the fact that he allocated the proceeds from his speeches for the development of the local theater company in Vranjevo.

The entire cultural and entertainment life of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo, from the earliest days after the expulsion of the Turks, probably originated in schools but was realized in taverns, as they had suitable premises to accommodate a larger audience.

On January 27, 1881, Saint Sava's Day, the Serbian Crafts Church Duplir Society was founded in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo. Its goal was to participate with duplirs (a traditional musical instrument) at the funerals of its members and members of their families and, primarily, to participate in church ceremonies and solemn liturgies. The founders were Aca Aradski, a carpenter from Vranjevo; Proka Cukić, a wax maker; Velizar Pavlović, a wax maker; Josif Milinkov, a tailor; Mladen Nešić, a cartwright; Svetozar Pavlović, a blacksmith; Petar Ubavić, a coppersmith; Joca Jovanović, a hairdresser, and others from Vranjevo. The membership grew from year to year, and by 1890, the society had fifty members.

Soon there was discord in the society over the choice of the standard-bearer. The people of Novi Bečej believed that the right belonged to them, while the people of Vranjevo believed that they were the initiators for organizing the society and hence deserved the honor. This led to the division of the society.

The people of Vranjevo, along with several farmers, founded the Serbian Orthodox Singing Society in the 1890s. In 1905, the society had thirty-two members, and that year the choir conductor was Dimitrije St. Vasić.

With the arrival of Žarko Čiplić as a teacher in Novi Bečej (1909), musical life received new impetus. Čiplić, an exceptionally talented musician, gathered young people and founded the Serbian Church Singing Society in 1910, of which he remained the conductor throughout its existence.

After World War I, Čiplić founded the Youth Circle singing society in Novi Bečej, of which he was also the conductor. The Youth Circle consisted of young farmers.

With the relocation of the Harkov Institute (1920), musical life became even richer and more diverse. The Institute had a tradition of nurturing music brought from Russia and continued to develop it in Novi Bečej. Every event it organized, at least twice a year, was rich in musical programs. Ballads were sung, operettas were performed, and there was other serious music.

In collaboration with the excellent conductor and musician Jakov Pavlović-Kobec, director of the Women's Russian Choir of the Harkov Institute in Novi Bečej, Žarko Čiplić founded a philharmonic orchestra. The era of the philharmonic was short-lived, but it meant something extraordinary in the musical life of a small town like Novi Bečej. Its only concert was a special event for the musical history of Novi Bečej.

It's worth mentioning that Novi Bečej and Vranjevo had good solo singers. They performed at various events but mostly sang, with great love, for their closest friends and family at family celebrations and weddings. It wasn't uncommon for the music in a tavern, during evening dances, to stop for Rigo Joška from Novi Bečej, the best baritone singer of the time (1930-1941). More often than not, at Arsen Pecarski's tavern, Krompa approached a table where, among other guests, Joca Rakić sat, and asked him to sing a folk song with his lyrical tenor. This was the desire of the present guests, and Krompa's orchestra accompanied him. They were not only excellent singers but also excellent friends and honest people.

Music was obligatory in schools in the form of singing classes and participation in school choirs. Additionally, there were several private piano and violin teachers. Between the two world wars, besides the aforementioned Irena Đurković, Jakov Pavlović-Kobec and Žarko Čiplić had a notable role as violin teachers. In the last years, before World War II, an excellent violinist settled in Novi Bečej, the godson of the Novi Bečej merchant Balog Istvan, Dušan Stanković from Belgrade, who also gave violin lessons.

There's no doubt that song and music have always been a favorite pastime of the people of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo. Unfortunately, there are few written records and notes from earlier times. All that is written here is of recent date and is recorded based on the author's memories of this book or statements from his friends and contemporaries, which is very modest compared to what the musical life was like.

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