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Stanko Horvat, F.C.A.

Date of death:

  • 10/30/2006

Academic titles:

  • fellow of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  • professor


  • Professor (retired) - Academy of Music, University of Zagreb

Membership in Academy:

  • full member - Department of Music and Musicology (05/28/1998 - 10/30/2006
  • associate member - Department of Music and Musicology (06/18/1992 - 05/28/1998)

Stanko Horvat (Zagreb, 1930) graduated in composition from S. Šulek’s class at the Music Academy in Zagreb in 1956. He spent the academic year 1958-59 in Paris doing post-graduate work under T. Aubin at the Paris Conservatory and taking private lessons from R. Leibowitz.

In 1957 he started teaching at the Vatroslav Lisinski Music School in Zagreb. In 1961 he was made assistant professor and later full professor at the Zagreb Academy of Music, and served as Dean from 1977 to 1981. In 1977 he visited Berlin and worked in the electronic studio at the Technische Hochschule. Between 1974 and 1979 he was the president of the Croatian Composers’ Association. Since 1975 he has made a major contribution to the organisation of Zagreb Music Biennial, of which he was the artistic director between 1985 and 1989.

His first compositions were deeply rooted in the classical tradition (Concertino for Strings, 1952). After his post-graduate work in Paris - under the influence of Leibowitz - he turned towards dodecaphony, serialism and other current composition techniques which he soon abandoned, however, as incompatible with his sensibilities. The Polish School had a much stronger influence on his work (Contrasts for String Quartet, 1963).

In all the forms employed, Horvat has focused primarily on musical expression. He is inclined towards pure sound, simple form and traditional treatment of the instrument. His works reveal a desire for a reconciliation of the contemporary and the romantic, the strict and the free-form, the structured and the improvised. His inclination towards simplicity of texture, sometimes reminiscent of minimalist music, is always apparent (Chords, 1979; Ostinati, 1983; Concertino for piano and strings, 1996; In modo rustico for bass-clarinet and piano, 1997). For Horvat, music is not just a material fact, but also an artistic and human one; he is a humanist as a composer and as a teacher. He has nurtured an impressive number of distinguished Croatian composers.

Horvat’s works are performed in all European countries and on nearly all the continents, at festivals in Croatia (the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, the Zagreb Music Biennial, the Split Summer Festival) and abroad (Warsaw Autumn, Musikprotokoll in Graz, Berliner Biennial, the International Festival in Brno).

Horvat has received several important awards: the City of Zagreb Prize, 1967 (for his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra and Rondo for String Quartet); the Vladimir Nazor Prize in 1972 (for his Jama cantata) and in 1981 (for Slovo za slovo and Zapis o očima, both choral works based on Mak Dizdar’s verses); and the Josip Slavenski Prize in 1970 (for Piano Sonnant), in 1972 (for his Jama cantata), and in 1990 (for life-time achievement).

Since 1998 Stanko Horvat has been a member of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences.