Oberkrainer music

Oberkrainer music

As I already wrote before in one of my blog posts, at most (local) parties and festivities in Slovenia they only play Polka music. These are often bands of a few people and there is always an accordionist there. They call these »bands« Ensembles and they are still immensely popular here.

Slovenia’s most famous accordionist was Slavko Avsenik. This composer and musician from Begunje was born on November 26, 1929 and died on July 2, 2015. In 1953 he developed the Oberkrainer music style together with his brother Vilko. The name Oberkrainer was chosen because the word Oberkrain is German for the Slovenian province of Gorenjska, where Avsenik comes from. Oberkrainer music is therefore still very popular, especially in Austria and Germany.

Slavko, together with his brother Vilko, started the “Ansambel Brata Avsenika”, which translates to: the Ensemble of the Avsenik brothers. Characteristic of an Oberkrainer ensemble is of course also the beautiful traditional costumes that go with it. In Spodnje Gorje, a village near Bine’s birthplace, we know someone who makes these clothes. His clients are therefore mainly ensembles. We have stayed there once and were allowed to view all the beautiful clothes.

Avsenik has written more than 1000 original compositions in his life and you probably know a few of them. The most famous cq. most played instrumental song in the world is even his! Few people will not recognize this number. It is called »Na Golici« (Translated: Up or to Golica, which is a beautiful area with alpine meadows above the town of Jesenice, in the Karawanken area.

Fun fact: Slavko himself could not read music. His brother Vilko did study music and wrote down and arranged the melodies that Slavko invented. The collaboration between the brothers was therefore of enormous importance for the realization of this Oberkrainer music.

In Begunje you can still find the Gostilna (inn) of Slavko’s parents, called ‘Pri Jožovcu’, where he used to perform often. Today it is run by one of Avsenik’s sons, also a musician. Even a grandson of Slavko, Sašo, has his own ensemble nowadays. So they are a very musical family indeed :).

The Gostilna also hosts a museum about the Avsenik brothers, where you can admire the many gold and even platinum records that the group has collected. There are also the original instruments, costumes, many prizes and a large collection of records on display.

Slavko Avsenik in front of his parents inn in Begunje

In addition to the museum, a concert hall has also been built at the parental inn. Here, Slavko regularly performed, and before Corona, there were often performances by the current top ensembles in Oberkrainer area. This concert hall has a round shape with a pointed roof: this refers to the »Marela« (umbrella). The Marela is a typical part of Slovenian traditional costume and inseparable from Oberkrainer music. You can find all the information on their website, www.avsenik.com.

The “umbrella” concert hall

Another very famous Slovenian accordionist is Lojze Slak. He is especially popular in our area (Dolenjska) because he comes from Mirna Peč. He died in 2011 but his songs are still played a lot. A few years ago,  I looked up some of the most famous songs, such as »V Dolini tihi«, »Po dekle« and »Stari čebelar«, to read the lyrics, so I would be able to also sing along at parties J. So nowadays, I can actually sing a number of them, albeit softly, because unfortunately I can’t really sing, hahaha. Look up the numbers and let me know what you think. Have fun listening!

Lojze Slak


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