Prominent Croatian figures in culture feature on new postage stamps
- by croatiaweek
- in News
Zagreb, April 17, 2023 – On April 19, 2023, Croatian Post will release four new postage stamps from the “Famous Croats” series.
The motifs of the edition are famous names from Croatian culture: Branko Lustig, Miljenko Smoje, Dušan Vukotić and Juro Tkalčić. The author of the postage stamps is Ariana Noršić, a designer from Samobor, and the illustrator is Maja Cipek, an academic painter, also from Samobor.
The first issue from this series was put into circulation in 2005, and since then many famous and influential names from Croatian history have been represented on these stamps. This year’s edition was printed in 30,000 copies per motif in sheets of 20 stamps. Croatian Post also issued a commemorative envelope on the first day (FDC).
In the history of Croatian musical interpretation of the cello, there are not a large number of prominent artists, especially not those with an international career. In this small line, a kind of progenitor is Juro Tkalčić (Zagreb, February 13, 1877 – Zagreb, December 15, 1957), who after primary education in Zagreb and later in Vienna, went to Paris, where he started playing while continuing his supplementary education in various orchestral and chamber ensembles, but also performed as a soloist with his brother, pianist Ivo Tkalčić (1875 – 1937).
His reputation is gradually growing, so as a member of chamber and orchestra ensembles he takes part in tours throughout Europe. In 1900, he settled in Paris. At first he plays in café orchestras, but soon becomes one of the most prominent chamber musicians in Paris and plays in prominent chamber ensembles with whom he performs in Paris and other French cities.
Writing about his performances, critics of the time emphasized the exceptional virtuosity and beauty of his tone. His compositional oeuvre belongs to the late-romantic concept of music, the miniatures are mostly of salon character. However, it is important to point out that Tkalčić is the author of the first Croatian concerto for cello and orchestra, and the works for chamber ensembles are more ambitiously designed.
by Erika Krpan, musicologist and member of HDS.
On March 21, 1994, the winners of the 66th Academy Awards were announced at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. When it was announced that “Schindler’s List” directed by Steven Spielberg won the Oscar for the best film, three winners, the three producers of that film, went on stage. One of them was a man who survived the Nazi death camps as a young man. His name is Branko Lustig.
Branko Lustig was born in 1932 in Osijek. The war and the genocide of the Jews in the NDH found him when he was nine years old. As a child, he passed through the Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen death camps. His father and most of his family perished in the Holocaust. In the mid-1950s, an ambitious returnee from the camp entered the then young, just emerging film industry of SFRY. He started working as a recording organizer and executive producer. His name is at the top of a series of important titles of the time, from Branko Bauer’s “Don’t Turn Back, Son” (1956 – Lustig’s first job), through the Oscar-nominated “One Year Long Road” (1958) to the historical spectacles “Goats” ( 1962) and “Peasant Revolts” (1975). When, in the late 1960s, Jadran film turned intensively to co-productions with Hollywood, Lustig got involved in these projects. His work on the film “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971) and, especially, on the series “Winds of War” will be his recommendation for Hollywood.
In Hollywood, Lustig as an executive producer will help in the creation of a number of notable and watched A-production titles. His work is particularly important for two of the most prominent mid-stream directors of that generation: Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott. For the films of these two directors, Lustig will also receive two producer Oscars: in 1994 for “Schindler’s List” and in February 2001 for “Gladiator”. Lustig thus became the only man from Croatia to win the world’s most prestigious film award twice.
There are few writers in Croatian culture who can be said to have created their own homeland. One of those for whom this can be said without hesitation is Miljenko Smoje, a journalist, screenwriter and novelist from Split. In his writing, Smoje did not only describe central Dalmatia; he created it: he constructed its media image, created its mythology, immortalized its mentality, codified its language.
If there is a repository of ideas, sounds and faces of Dalmatia that is permanently imprinted on both Croatian and (ex)Yugoslav audiences, a significant part of that repository is precisely the work of Miljenko Smoje.
The greatest fame will be brought to Smoje by the young medium of television. In 1970, TV Zagreb will produce the TV series “Our Little Town” – a chronicle of a fictional town in central Dalmatia from the 1930s to the 1960s. The series has gained enormous popularity and the status of a classic that is regularly repeated. Smoje managed to novelize the series in a novel of the same name. In 1980, Smoje would again write a more expensive, more ambitious series for TV Zagreb.
In no area of film culture has Croatian cinematography left such a globally visible mark as it did in animated film. This can primarily be attributed to the production of the Zagreb film studio from the mid-1950s to the 1970s, a group of authors and films commonly called the “Zagreb cartoon school”. And the most famous among them is undoubtedly Dušan Vukotić, the director who won an Oscar for his “Surrogate” in 1961. Vukotić is also the only author of Croatian films to win an American Academy Award.
Vukotić successfully worked in animated films until the 1970s. He gradually tried his hand as a director of full-length feature films, but not nearly as successfully. He shot the feature films “The Seventh Continent” (1966), the urban war thriller “Action Stadium” (1981) and the sci-fi film “Guests from the Galaxy” (1981). He died in Zagreb in 1998 at the age of 71.
by Jurica Pavičić, writer, columnist and film critic.