What does a philharmonic musician do in this bizarre state of emergency with such an abundance of time on his hands?
Having been a member of the Belgrade Philharmonic for the past 24 years, I have experience with similar situations. This is the third state of emergency that has affected the work of our orchestra in the most dramatic way.
The first time was in March of 1999, when the air strikes started and we didn’t work for about ten days. We adapted quickly by playing concerts every Friday at noon, with or without electricity. In spite of everything and regardless of everything!
The next suspension was on March 12, 2003 when Prime Minister Djindjic was assassinated. We also didn’t work for a week or two after which we continued our regular season. Since then, as you know, every March we dedicate a concert to the memory of the late prime minister.
However, it seems that this situation with the COVID-19 coronavirus will be the most drastic break in a single season in my entire quarter century with the orchestra. (How good a “quarter of a century” sounds!?)
Honestly, I’m not too worried. Humanity has survived the plague without any medicines, so it will beat this virus as well. I take normal precautions, like everyone else, and I try to use this forced vacation constructively.
In addition to my three daughters’ compulsory schooling, I’m really trying to make the most of this abundance of time that we have. They say that “leisure is the mother of philosophy.” Well, in my case that is true literally. I read loads of books, I listen to online concerts by top orchestras that are now available to everyone, and of course, I practice my instrument. This huge amount of time gives me the opportunity to work on myself, on my instrument, without the seasonal pressure.
In addition to all this, I have a little personal project that I am completing: a list of all trombone players who have worked in the Belgrade Philharmonic since its founding until today. Unfortunately, the philharmonic musicians who are now members do not know much about their predecessors over the past 97 years because the archive is quite “thin.” My mission to correct this injustice as much as possible in my section has led me to rummage through the BF archive and make an accurate list of all the members of the section from 1951 to the present. Unfortunately, there is a lack of data for the entire previous period since 1923, so this is one enigma that will take quite some time to resolve.
I hope the other sections will wish to do the same and will search for their predecessors in the archive. In this way, together, we can complete the history of all the musicians who have ever played in the Belgrade Philharmonic, often in even more difficult circumstances than ours, but have remained forgotten unjustly.
I think they deserve to be remembered. Now is the right time to do this.
Konstantin Šatrov 1951 – 1964
Rudolf Kubiček 1951 – 1977
Benedikt Zuvela 1951 – 1973
Rudolf Kocman 1968 – 1993
Šandor Celer 1974 – 1987
Karolj Takodi 1980 – 1981
Petar Torbica 1986 – 1987
Ljubomir Matijaca 1987 – 1990
Aleksandar Benčić 1988 – 1994
Dejan Radosavljević 1993 – 2014
Goran Odović 1994 – 1999
Tibor Balint 1994 –
Igor Ranković 1996 –
Bodin Draškoci 2000 – 2017
Nikola Milanov 2015 – 2018
Richard Wheeler 2018 –
Justin Crowshore 2018 –