A giant of Slovenian pop song departs

07. 10. 2022

The pianist Jure Robežnik, one of the most important composers of Slovenian jazz and pop music, has passed away.

He took piano lessons at Glasbena matica in Ljubljana for eight years and graduated in Germanic studies from the Faculty of Arts in 1958. Robežnik first stood on the stage as a secondary-school student when he performed at the Nebotičnik bar. There he played the accordion, and discovered the works of the interwar and postwar generation of popular music composers: Zicherl, Golob, Vidmar, Ponikvar and Souvan. He eventually formed his own quartet, in which he played the piano and vibraphone. A big step for Robežnik was his collaboration in the Ensemble of Mojmir Sepe.

He made his debut as a composer author at the 1962 Slovenska popevka (Slovenian Pop Song) contest in Bled with the song Glas stare ure. The 1960s and 1970s gave rise to his best known songs, such as Plaz, Tri korake v modro, Presenečenja, Ptica vrh Triglava, Mesto mladih, Pegasto dekle, Mlade oči and Na vrhu nebotičnika, and he will also be remembered for some of his later works, including Ples oblakov, Šel si mimo, Vrtiljak, Maja z biseri, Orion and Na deževen dan.

He often worked with chanson writers, such as Gregor Strniša, Elza Budau, Dušan Velkaverh, Branko Šömen, Smiljan Rozman, Svetlana Makarovič, Miroslav Košuta, Milan Jesih, Ervin Fritz and Tomaž Šalamun. Robežnik also collaborated with the vocal group Bele vrane and numerous acclaimed Slovenian and Yugoslav singers.

He also worked as a producer in the music production of Radio Slovenija, and later as the editor and director of the label Založba kaset in plošč RTV Slovenija. The scope of Robežnik’s creative work also included incidental music and theme music, as well as orchestral music. His best known works of this type are Popoldanski cocktail za simfonični orkester, Sonce mi nizko teče – porabska narodna za orkester, Pot do zvezd za harfo in godala, Sneg v maju za violo in godala and Concertino za tenor, saksofon in orkester.

It was Robežnik’s initiative to establish the annual Summer Night concert, which is co-produced by RTV Slovenia and Festival Ljubljana and dedicated to composers of popular music. The event was first staged in 2006 to pay tribute to the singer Majda Sepe, and next year it will commemorate Jure Robežnik and Mojmir Sepe.

Robežnik will always be remembered for his evergreen songs, which have left an indelible mark on Slovenian music. In 2017, he received the Kozina Award for his exceptional work, bestowed by the Society of Slovene Composers.

The whole team at Ljubljana Festival would like to extend their sincere condolences to the friends and relatives of this master of popular music.