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Famous Croats (C)

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About Famous Croats (C)

Anđela Horvat
Art historian and conservator (Krašić, 18 March 1911 – Zagreb, 26 September 1985). Graduated with a degree in Art History, History and Latin at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (1935), where she also defended her doctoral thesis entitled Architectural and Fine Arts Monuments in Međimurje (1956). She spent her working years at the Croatian Conservation Institute in Zagreb (1941-1970). She was a full member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Art (since 1983). Apart from working on the creative conservation of monuments, Anđela Horvat was a renowned scientist whose research interests covered a broad spectrum of topics. Temporally, her work was dedicated to works of art originating between the 7thand 20thcenturies. Thematically, her research interests spanned all branches of art: from urbanism and architecture, sculpture and painting, to artisan crafts. Territorially, her work was focused on continental Croatia. Considering the context in which she did her research, drawing attention to continental Croatia meant dedicating research to an area that had been almost entirely unexplored, left in the shadow of the great Dalmatian works of art.

In this territorially limited yet thematically broad field of research, Anđela Horvat introduced a series of significant shifts in Croatian art history. Most importantly, she listed, covered and photographed an incredible number of objects, which remain recorded in her famous travel notebooks (Vade mecum). In addition to these topographical contributions, Anđela Horvat interpreted many significant units, which had previously been left almost completely unaddressed, such as medieval burgs, baroque sacral architecture, Gothic sculpture, etc. She was also responsible for a number of new attributions, primarily for the attribution of certain elements in both the cathedral and St Mark's church in Zagreb to a stonemasonry workshop run by the Parler family in late medieval times. Marked by a positivist approach to the subject matter, her analysis of the parallel employment of different styles in the Renaissance era, published in the iconic book Between the Gothic and Baroque (1975), which remains as topical as upon first publication, made a significant theoretical contribution. Anđela Horvat also authored the first comprehensive overview of baroque works of art in continental Croatia (published in the book Baroque in Croatia, 1982).

Anđela Horvat's opus, collected in over a hundred research articles, chapters, collections and books, was and remains the starting point of nearly every single piece of research focused on works of art in continental Croatia.

Katarina Horvat-Levaj, PhD
Director of the Institute of Art History

Jure Kaštelan
Even though he successfully tried his hand at all literary forms (short stories, plays, essays, translations and criticism), Jure Kaštelan is above all an incredibly important poet, an author who demonstrated a particular lyrical sensibility and original imagination in all his works, while several collections of his poems marked key periods in Croatian literature. Jure Kaštelan's work is synonymous with a free spirit and vital energy; it is a prolific outcome of authentic embeddedness in the deep layers of the Mediterranean atmosphere and regional lore, which also shows a mature openness towards the important heritage of modernist provocation and the European contemporaneity.

Born on 18 December 1919 in Zakučac near Omiš, Kaštelan graduated from the Classical Gymnasium high school in Split and enrolled in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in 1938. He entered the field of literature in 1940, publishing a collection of poems entitled Crveni konj (Red Horse), which garnered a significant amount of attention and immediately provoked traditionalist opposition thanks to a particular synthesis of folklore originality and surrealist daring. After participating in the liberation movement in the Second World War, during the post-war era, Kaštelan made a decisive contribution to the break with socialist realism and the promotion of brand new creative movements. The titles of his books (Pijetao na krovu (Rooster on the Roof), Čudo i smrt (A Miracle and Death), Malo kamena i puno snova (A Bit of Stone and a Lot of Dreams) and Divlje oko (A Wild Eye)) attest to a strong existentialist motivation and an original inspiration stemming from the light and darkness of his birth region, to which he was forever bound.

As an editor and a university professor, as an interpreter and as an advocate of certain values, Kaštelan also made significant contributions to Croatian culture by publishing important works and leading vital initiatives in the fields of literature and fine arts. In his work on Matoš, Ujević and Šimić, he traced his own binding path, and his support for abstract tendencies (Murtić's and the EXAT's) in the early 1950s forever focused Croatian creative thinking on the difficult requirements of questioning the medium and innovation. He died in Zagreb, on 24 February 1990.

Tonko Maroević,
Member of the Croatian Academy of
Sciences and Arts

Vatroslav Lisinski
Through his worldview formed in the context of Romanticism and newly awoken national sentiments, this Croatian composer, born almost two centuries ago (Zagreb, 8 July 1819 – Zagreb, 31 May 1854), set the ground for a new and novel way of understanding music by considering the nation as an essential precondition.

Born into the family of the wealthy craftsman Andrija Fux, who moved from Dolenjske Toplice, and Ana née Kovačić, he was christened at St Mark's church in Zagreb as Ignacije Fux. He was educated in Zagreb, where he attended a gymnasium high school and graduated from a two-year programme in philosophy, as well as a two-year programme at the Academy of Law. He was of a fragile constitution and developed a limp in childhood, and this defect continued to affect him throughout his life.

Music entered his life relatively late. He started learning the piano as late as 14 or 15, but his love of music, his need to express his intimate thoughts through music and the amiable company of his young friends and colleagues, the liberal and patriotic thinkers Ivan Trnski, Adolf Felbinger, and later Albert Ognjan Štriga, led him to try his hand at composing for the first time, setting Pavel Štoos' lyrics to music in a reveille entitled Iz Zagorja od prastara (From Zagorje since Ancient Times). The reveille was performed for the first time on Ljudevit Gaj's birthday, 8 July 1841, and it was greeted as a great success.

Even though it was partly political, this success encouraged Lisinski to compose a series of inspired songs throughout the next year, all of which espoused the ideas of the Croatian National Revival, as well as to continue his musical education, which coincided with the impoverishment of his family. Soon, influenced by a Romanticist patriotic enthusiasm, he changed his real name to the one under which he is known today. This enthusiasm finally led to the creation of Ljubav i zloba (Love and Malice), his first operatic piece of music premiered on 28 March 1846 in Zagreb, which is also considered to be the first of its kind in the history of Croatian music. Encouraged by his success, Lisinski went on to pursue a four-year study programme in music in Prague. When he returned, however, Croatia was changed by the events of 1849 and patriotic ideas, as well as those who championed them, were hardly welcome. Considered almost a foreigner, Lisinski barely survived, working menial jobs. However, he continued to compose vigorously, listening to and recording the music of his homeland. In 1851, Lisinski set Dimitrija Demeter's libretto to music in the heroic opera Porin, which was much more mature and rich in content than his first operatic piece of work, even though the composer did not live to witness its premiere. Furthermore, Lisinski composed a number of songs that reveal his true romantic imagination, his sensibility for tonal painting and melodic inspiration: Miruj, miruj srce moje (Be Still My Heart), Prosjak (Beggar), Prelja (Spinner) and many others that breathed true life into the solo song in Croatia. Lisinski's final piece of music, the offertory Cum invocarem, which was composed during the last year of his life, reflects the difficult mental state that marked the end of his life.

Erika Krpan
musicologist and member of
the Croatian Composer's Society