Goran Bregović

Goran Bregović was born on March 22, 1950 in Sarajevo. Just like Emir Kusturica, he reflects by his origins the multi-ethnic aspect of Yugoslavia : his father is Croatian, his mother Serb, his wife muslim . He is today surely the most known composer of the balkans.

At the age of 16, after studies of violin, he creates Bijelo Dugme (White Button), a rock band that put fire to Yugoslavia from 1974 to 1989 with 13 major albums. At that time, he met young Emir Kusturica, then bass player in the Zabranjeno Pušenje. Yugoslav youth identified itself with this kind of revolt and opening to the West.

Around the mid-80's, Goran meets again Emir Kusturica, and Emir convinces him to work for the local cinema. This collaboration will lead to the unforgettable score of Time of the Gypsies (1989), this album will be an international success.

This return to the origins, at the same time Slavic and gypsy, this fusion of popular music and modern techniques of production, this cosmopolitanism perfectly assumed will become the public image of the composer.

Then, Goran will continue his experiments in the fusion of sorts of music. He will seek in the Jewish yemenit music of Ofra Haza (La Reine Margot, 1994), in the Cap-Vert tango of Cesaria Evora (Underground, 1995) or with Iggy Pop completely reinvented (Arizona Dream, 1993), without forgetting this self fusioning music, the one of the Gypsies, sources of a really universal music, at the same time symphonic and intimate, lyric and perfectly rigourous.

After having written the music for a dozen of full-length films, Goran starts to play in concert his works with the Orchestra of the Weddings and Funerals, surrounded by a philharmonic ensemble and a choir. In 1997, after having played in whole Eastern Europe, he triumphs at the Montreux festival and gives on December 31 a multi-media concert in Thessalonique (Greece), which will be released as a live album, The Silence of The Balkans. Goran Bregović and the Orchestra of the Weddings and Funerals start a European tour in spring 98 which leads them in Italy, Portugal, England, Belgium and France (Printemps de Bourges, Olympia…).

Goran Bregović left Sarajevo in 1992 at the time of the Yugoslavian conflicts to exile in Paris and in the United States. He recorded in 1999 with the Polish singer Kayah, put his cosmopolitan talent at the service of American Iggy Pop, of Cesaria Evora, of the Israeli pionneer of ethno-techno Ofra Haza, English Scott Walker, but Goran Bregović also collaborates since many years with the greatest song stars of the Balkans : singer George Dalaras, major star in Greece, (where he represents the laïko style, modernized form of the rebetiko, close to the blues), or the young singer Alkistis Protopsalti, but also Sezen Aksu, engaged turkish feminist pop star.

In 2000, Goran Bregović released a new album : Tales and Songs for Weddings and Funerals, he has also played with his group in the Swedish film “Music for Weddings and Funerals” (Musikk for bryllup og begravelser) by Unni Straume. This film tells the history of Sara, a writer who, after the death of her only son lives in a villa designed by her ex-husband. She decides to rent the basement to Bogdan (Goran Bregović), a Serbian musician who sometimes plays with his complete gypsy orchestra… The film works on contrasts : North-South, hot-cold, joy-sadness. It was presented at the Sundance festival in 2002, and that of Rotterdam in 2003. This film had a limited audience, mainly restricted to festivals.

In 2004, Goran Bregović made a personnal version of Bizet's Carmen, which he entitled Karmen (with a happy ending). He gave many shows of this new piece in Europe, and a CD should be soon released. Goran should also direct himself the movie out of this album.

In 2005, with his old friends of Bijelo Dugme, the group made a serie of exceptional concerts to live once again the phenomenon of the years 70-80.

Discography (solo career)

Official website

Goran Bregović's official website : http://www.goranbregovic.co.yu/



Interview made in august 2002 for the new album “Tales and Songs from Weddings and Funerals”.

  • You wanted to creat a record on your own name which your producer presents like your “first true album ever”. Are you going to stop composing for the cinema?
    • Goran Bregović : For me these small “tales” are like small film musics, except that there are no images. They are proposals for the own scenario of the listener.
  • Which film did you make for yourself for these musical “proposals” ?
    • GB : I come from a country where the stories always deal with weddings and funerals. My music is between the two. Thus its funny or sad mood. I came to the cinema by chance. Before, I was making rock'n'roll, I sold during fifteen years millions albums before my first disc reaches occident. In this one, there are all kinds of sound experiments, sometimes complex. It is somehow a schizophrenic album that oscillates between simple and complicated things.
  • Is this different from writing a soundtrack ?
    • GB : I was lucky enough to work with directors, whereas Emir Kusturica or Patrice Chéreau, who do not really need composers. They are directors who like to take risks with the music which can be aggressive or melodic. They rarely asked for illustrations of their images. A good film gives immediately the signal. It is like a living body : it accepts or it rejects. I watch the film only at the end, when the score is almost finished. For the director, it is often the occasion to see his film differently. The music changes pretty much the strength of an image. A film without sound, it is completely different.
  • You gave recently a concert for the festival of Saint-Denis, are there in your album pieces you interpreted there ?
    • GB : Not really. For the basilica, I created a kind of liturgy for three monotheist religions. It was a command, like we did with composers before. I have recently been asked to write for a cello octet. I like that. It is not by chance if 90 % of art history of our civilization were commands. I made last year the Cirque d'Hiver in Paris with my music, but now, I work more and more for the theatre which is something more natural for me, less “hysterical” than the cinema where there is always a great pressure. My temperament makes me prefering quite things.
  • How was born the idea for the Orchestra of the weddings and funerals ?
    • GB : From an ambition to play with a symphony orchestra. When I came back to the “concert” form, I first played with a traditional band, orchestra and choir, but removing all wood instruments (clarinets, etc.) that I found too harmonious. I recomposed this orchestra as I imagine the “human” music, not perfectly tuned, more natural. I replaced the trumpets by a gypsy brass band, which requires a shifted play compared to a symphonic score. I also added traditional drums, and computers. In the chorus, I have only male singers coming from orthodox song tradition. And for the female intonations, I have the Bulgarian Voices. All that gives the feeling of a great freedom.
  • You are said to make gypsy music
    • GB : I would say that it is the contemporary music of a composer influenced by the traditional music, like most of the composers in history. It intends to be artistically strong while being contemporary.
  • It is hard to imagine that you were a rocker ?
    • GB : Well, I started to play in traditional music bars very early, at the age of fifteen, then in streap-tease bars at seventeen. I played a sort of local rock'n'roll, like French rock'n'roll.
  • When you work with artists such as Iggy Pop or Cesaria Evora, it is the confrontation of the universes that interest you ?
    • GB : People with whom I worked on my soundtracks were often enthusiastic because I did not compose for show business, and commercial films. I experienced their participation like a kind of autograph of personalities. Iggy Pop, in my musical youth, represented a significant character.
  • What are the topics you approach in your album ?
    • GB : I wrote in gypsy language because my Serbo-Croatian language does not exist any more. One speaks either Serb, or Croatian, or bosnian. Gypsy is a simple language with few words. That enables me to focus on the sounds of the words. It is in the tradition of the Slavic texts, somehow pathetic. If the people do not understand, that does not prevent them from singing with me, even if unfortunately I do not have gypsy roots…
  • Unfortunately ?
    • GB : But because everyone wants to be a gypsy. It is like wanting to be a cow-boy. I was born in a family very distant from this culture. My father was a colonel. It is surely why my universe is also influenced by the military music.
  • You live in Paris and work in Belgrade. From which country do you feel you belong ?
    • GB : My emotional territory, is between Belgrade, Zagreb and Sarajevo. I have the three passports : Bosnian, Croatian, Serb. If one day, I stop somewhere, I would like to live in this territory. I feel myself deeply yugo !
  • How do you explain your particular relationship with France?
    • GB : When I sold my first record of Time of the Gypsies, as I was coming from such a small culture, I said to myself it is incredible : there are hundred thousand French hearths that have my record. That made me feeling strange to have so much success in a country which gave half of the culture of other civilization. That gave me confidence. I think that the war was the revealing element of my own culture. That made me an emigrated artist. Paris welcomed me and allowed me to feel like an artist and a yugo. It is one of the few places for that.
en/goran_bregovic.txt · Last modified: 2012/08/13 14:25 by matthieu1