The Belgrade Philharmonic is bidding farewell to its former member, bassoonist Božidar Tumpej, who passed away last month at the age of 91.

The full and rich artistic path and long career of this prominent musician, born in the Croatian town of Kotoriba in 1929, brought him to Belgrade, where he spent one of the most productive periods of his artistic life.

He received his music education in Ptuj, Ljubljana, and Graz, and graduated from the Music Academy in Belgrade (1954), where he also received his master’s degree in the class of Prof. Ivan Turšič (1970).

He started performing while still a student, and at the invitation of Swiss Conductor Victor Desarzens, he became principal bassoonist of the Chamber Orchestra in Lausanne, where he was also professor of bassoon at the Conservatory.

He returned to Belgrade in 1963, as first bassoonist of the Belgrade Philharmonic and associate professor at the Faculty of Music, where he spent the next 20 years. After this period, he returned to Slovenia in 1983, where he was principal bassoonist of the Ljubljana Opera and also played part-time in the Ljubljana Radio Orchestra. He was honorary professor of bassoon and chamber music at the Music Academy in Ljubljana.

As a soloist, he performed and collaborated with such famous music artists as Yehudi Menuhin, Nadia Boulanger, David Oistrakh, Paul Hindemith, Charles Dutoit, Edouard van Remoortel, Victor Desarzens, Armin Jordan, and many others.

Many domestic and international composers wrote and dedicated their works to him, including J-F Zbinden, Primož Ramovš, Bruno Bjelinski, Rudolf Brucci, Stanojlo Rajičić, Ivana Stefanović, and others.

He had solo concerts in Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Cuba, and in all the major cities of the former Yugoslavia. He recorded for all major radio stations of (the former) Yugoslavia, as well as for radio and television broadcasting companies in Switzerland (Radio Sottens, Radio-Television Suisse Romande, Radio Bern), and in Germany (Radio Nuremberg). At the personal invitation of Melina Mercouri, then Greek minister of culture and science, in 1982, as a soloist and representative of Yugoslavia, he performed at the final concert of the festival “La Méditerranée toujours d’hier et d’aujourd’hui” in Epidaurus.

He was the winner of numerous awards and acknowledgments, and he had a rich teaching career, which resulted in the development of many successful bassoonists in Belgrade, Ljubljana, Sarajevo, Skopje, and Dubrovnik, who left his class.

The Belgrade Philharmonic proudly remembers its principal bassoonist, grateful that an artist of such prominence is part of this institution’s history.